Here’s how you do it.

There was a True Confessions post a while back, about a tailor’s sample book that was made into a scrapbook, with lots of great old prints glued to pages.  I want to show you how to take the prints off a page–if they are glued down with old-style animal glue –woohoo, two links in one paragraph!

Here is a nice vintage print of Woodrow Wilson that I would like to remove from the page it’s glued to.

The first step is to cover the print with wet paper towels, or a rag;  I like to use rags ’cause they stay wet longer.  The covering isn’t dripping wet, but it’s not wrung dry either.  There needs to be enough moisture to soak through the print, and dissolve the glue.

After covering the print, wait 5 or 10 minutes, and then you can try this–VERY GENTLY!!  You will know right away if anything is loose, don’t force the blade under the print.I would rather try to slide a razor blade under a print than grab a corner and pull.  The old prints are remarkably tough, but you can rip them if you aren’t careful.  You might have to do this step several times as the glue dissolves.  There usually is a corner that is looser than the others, and it makes a great place to start.

When trying to remove old decorative paper items from real scrapbook paper, it works best to get things really wet.  I have set a scrapbook page on a damp towel, and then covered it with a wet rag.  I’ve even had to use a spray bottle to get more water on things, to convince the glue to dissolve.  This book I’m working on now, has pages that are of a slicker texture than the porous paper usually found in scrapbooks.

The key to successfully removing things from a scrapbook is patience, it is a necessity with this kind of project.  Whenever I have had a disaster, very annoying, it has always been my fault, for not waiting for the glue to let go.

Here you can see that quite a bit of the print is loose; don’t get crazy–wait for the rest to come loose.  I sometimes will spray some water under the print at this point, to hasten things.  I am trying to keep this “album” intact, since it has some fabulous graphics under the prints.

OK, it’s off, and here is the back side of the print; you can see the old glue lines around the edges and the middle of the print.

At this point I do one of two things:  1. gently wipe the glue off with my wet rag (that’s why it looks dirty), or 2.  hold the print under a slow trickle of water to get a lot of glue off with a minimum of rubbing.  While your print is wet, or at least very damp,  you need to support it when moving it around.  (Kathy recommends a piece of glass under the print, then you are even ready to blot it. ) Do not hold your print by a corner, you WILL rip it.

Here’s old Woodrow, none the worse for wear, sitting on a paper towel:I tried drying prints on wire racks lined with paper towels.  You end up with a bunch of bowed, wrinkled prints that need to be pressed.  Kathy recommends that you place your wet prints between two paper towels ( make sure they are plain white paper towels.  No prints. Don’t even ask how I know that!) , and then put the paper towels between two pieces of glass.  You will probably have to change the paper towels periodically to get the prints dry.

As a reward for wading through this post, I’ll show you a couple of pictures from the tailor’s book.  First a before picture:

This is a picture that someone probably cut from a magazine, folded it, and then glued it on top of a more interesting picture.  I can tell it’s not a true print–it’s thin and flimsy looking, even while glued down.

Here is the back of the same picture shown above.  I removed it, using the same steps outlined with Woodrow’s print.  You have to be VERY careful removing a picture cut out of a magazine–they are pretty fragile.  It’s so cool that there is an ad on the opposite side; imagine getting a rug for $16.20, and love those spats.

Then take a gander at the page under the “sweetheart” picture:

I find this so much cooler than what was glued on top of it.  It’s in pretty good shape, even after being subjected to water.

I take old paper items out of scrapbooks because acidic paper yellows prints, and will eventually ruin them.  There are paper conservators out there who do this professionally.  Please don’t hesitate to hire them for valuable items, especially sentimental papers.  I would hesitate to take letters out of a scrapbook without some experimenting.  It would be sickening to get a letter out, only to discover that the ink has run, smeared, or is unreadable.  But, if you come across a fun scrapbook, full of fab prints, calling cards, valentines, etc… don’t hesitate to try to remove one.  Start with a damaged one, or an ugly one–you have nothing to lose at that point.

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