How to: Remove Paper Ephemera From Scrapbooks

We decided to share something a little different this week, and if our readers find this useful, we may do some more tutorials down the road.  First off, we have to make a confession about the amount of paper “this and thats” that find their way into our respective homes.  We both love old cards, postcards, Valentines, prints, Victorian “scraps” ads, cards—you name it and we probably have some.  But, one of our favorite things is old scrapbooks.  You never know what cool things you are going to find in them.  So, OK, we are going to assume that you have this same problem.  You found a terrific print in one of those scrapbooks, and you want to make a card, frame it, or otherwise use it free from the surrounding book.  In this tutorial I will show you how to remove your prize safely, so it can be used again.

Before we start, though, I want to give a great big HUGE warning.  Do not attempt this on anything that is “priceless”.  If it means the world to you, take it to an expert.  Also, this is not recommended for photographs, and you might want to think twice about letters.  If you have some question about the printing being able to stand up to water, do a test in one corner to be sure.  Most old prints are very stable and able to take this.  Removing a good rag paper print from an old acidic book will keep the print from further yellowing.  This method will only work with the old water-soluble glues.  Most scrapbooks from the ’60s and earlier will be no problem.

So here is our scrapbook:

scrap-book-coverThis one is actually an old teacher planning book that someone pasted stuff into.  Mostly cute magazine pix, like the one shown.  We are going to destroy the book while removing the pix, but there is not much here to save.  If you want to save the book, you will have to remove the pictures using a cloth soaked in water, and that is a lot more complicated.  Let’s start the easy way.

First off, gather your materials:

materialsYou will need:

  • A plastic bin large enough for your page.  You can use a pan, just something to hold water, but not that story you told your hubby about where all the paper stuff keeps coming from.  That story leaks like a sieve!
  • Paper towels
  • An old cloth towel or rag
  • Two sheets of glass or plexiglass
  • Your scrap book
  • And a supply of patience.  Not a lot, but it does take some.

Here is the page I choose out of the book:

scrap-book-pageThis one will net me two cute prints.  Sometimes, if there is stuff on the back, you can get a whole lot off at once.  For us, right now, just a twofer.

Fill your bin with an inch or two of water:

water-binDon’t overfill it; you need a bit of room to work, as well as minimizing the mess when you trip on your way to the sink to dump it.  (Don’t ask!)

Now take your page and gently submerge it:

page-in-waterMake sure the water covers all of the picture.  If there is paper from the book itself hanging out of the water, that is fine, just make sure the whole picture is down and stays down.  It might take a minute of gently pushing it back in, till it wants to stay.

Here is where the patience comes in.  Walk Away.  Go make yourself a cup of coffee, call your talkative aunt, whatever it takes to leave it alone for a half an hour or so.  It can take more or less time, and you will figure out how much, if you are doing several things from the same book.  Depends on the scrapper’s predilection for glue, and the type used; just don’t rush it.

Come back and take a look:

coming-looseIf you are lucky, you will notice that the paper has floated free.  Otherwise, gently try a corner.  If it still seems sort of stuck, then go find another relative to chat with.  You can peel things up, but the paper has much less strength when wet.  You run the risk of tearing your picture, so just take it easy.

Once you have your item freed from the backing, turn it over and delicately rub off any excess glue:

clean-off-glueYou can tell if there is still some on the back by the slight slimy feeling.  Just rub very gently with your fingers till that is gone.  (If this only worked with used car salesmen!)  This is why you need room to work in your tub.

Now, lift the item from the water and lay it out on your cloth towel.  If the item seems likely to tear, you can slip one of your pieces of glass into the tub and slide your picture onto it like this:

remove-from-water-bathOnce the items are removed from the tub, blot as much water as you can with the towel.  Make sure the pictures remain on a flat firm surface to avoid distorting or tearing the paper.  For more fragile items blot right on the glass.  Remove and discard the scrapbook page.  (Don’t forget to do the items on the back if there are some!)  You can reuse your water, as long as it doesn’t look too gluey; just replace as needed, if you are doing a lot.

Once you have blotted the paper and gotten the worst of the moisture off, it is time to lay it out to dry.  The paper will curl and wrinkle if you just leave it on the table, so the idea is to keep it as flat as possible while drying.  Failing a local elephant to sit on it, we will just make a press by laying out one sheet of glass, a piece of paper towel, and your print:

making-layersThen add another piece of paper towel and the last sheet of glass:

final-layersThis method takes a while, as not a lot of air gets through there, so the towels need to be changed a couple times a day for a few days depending on your humidity.  I just leave the paper towels out to dry and just keep switching them back in, so as not to use a whole roll of towels and mess up my carbon footprint.  You can also use cloth; just don’t make it too thick, or you will have wrinkles.

As an alternate quickie method on a hot day, you can lay your items out on a screen or your oh-so-handy mesh patio table, then just lay one piece of glass on top of them:

alternate-dryingOn a 90 degree day they dry in no time flat, so this works really well when you have a lot to do.

And here are your two freed pictures ready to go on and be useful again:

resultsIf you were impatient and got them out before they completely dried, and they wrinkled or curled just a little, they can be lightly pressed with a warm iron.  Just don’t get it too hot, or you can turn a whole page yellow!

Hope you enjoyed this, and found it useful.  If so, pass it along to someone who might also find it useful, pin it, or bookmark it for future reference.  Let us know how it works for you, and if you have any questions, let us know in the comments or feel free to email us.

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Tutorial and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to: Remove Paper Ephemera From Scrapbooks

  1. Stephanie Gazell says:

    Very cool! Now what will you do with the illustrations? Love this sort of crafty tutorial – thank you!

    • kathy & deb says:

      Well, some we frame, some are used for homemade greeting cards, and most are hoarded! We tell ourselves that we are saving paper ephemera by getting it off of the old acid paper it’s glued to. Old paper stuff is a good thing to keep around–it’s not very big and can be stored fairly easily. I keep a lot of smaller pieces in acid-free sleeves in a note book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s