Archival Solution of the Week: Filmoplast Tapes
It is your worst enemy, and your best friend.
Yeah, I know, you’re undoubtedly scratching your head right about now. How can something be both?
Well, if you’re a genealogist, artist, collector or museum professional, tape (at least the WRONG kind of tape) can the bane of your existence! On the flip side of that coin are the RIGHT kinds of tape, namely Filmoplast Tapes. Read on!
So, a bit of explanation is in order. Let’s say it’s 1956 (or 1966, or 1976), for example, and you’re the family historian or a collector or something like that. You have a torn document in the family archive, or a rip in a nice old Currier & Ives print that you inherited from your grandpa, or a book with it’s binding falling apart, etc. (see pix above). What do you do?
Well, in the spirit of “fixing it” you grab the store-bought roll of cheap cellophane tape you keep in the kitchen junk drawer and tape the artifact back together.
Voila! You’ve “fixed it!” Won’t future generations be happy about that!
The truth is, folks, that most – if not ALL – tapes from back in the day are junk. The same can be said of most of the tapes you come across today. They may be great for sticking the grocery list to the frig and stuff like that, but NOT for repairing or mounting important documents and images or repairing books.
Such tapes, old and new, are usually non-archival, they tend to yellow with age, they become brittle over time, they have a tendency to stain, they leave all sorts of nasty / sticky / icky adhesive on things, and the list goes on and on (and on….).
So, fast forward 40/50/60 years and you’re now confronted with an important family document, photograph (see above) or an old collectible print and it’s all messed up with someone else’s good intentions.
What to do? Well, if your item or artifact is valuable – either monetarily or sentimentally valuable – it’s probably time to call in the pros: a professional conservator (please click here to see our fully-illustrated blog on Conservators: Pros You Should Know).
In order to avoid such situations going forward, and now knowing that tape is often the enemy, it’s important to note that tape can also be your best friend – the RIGHT KIND of tape, that is.
This is where the full line of archival, museum-quality Filmoplast Tapes come in to play, as they are the preferred adhesive and repair tapes favored by archivists, museums, libraries, galleries and individual artists worldwide. Sure, it’s a funny name (it’s German), but mention “Filmoplast Tape” to any collections specialist from any museum or gallery and they will know EXACTLY what your talking about.
Filmoplast Tapes: “Removable” vs. “Reversible”
All of the high quality Filmoplast Tapes Archival Methods offers are pH-neutral ( = acid-free, please click here to see our blog on the definition of “acid-free”), non-yellowing, and will not deteriorate over time. The adhesives are also water-based, which makes them “reversible” under most circumstances.
All this being the case, these tapes are very popular products for repairing torn documents and book pages; for the hinging of artwork and window mats; and for book binding repairs.
Now, before I continue, a word about “reversible,” as mentioned in the last paragraph:
“Removable” Does NOT Equal “Reversible”
So, a quick definition: “reversible” is fancy art history / conservation speak for “removable,” but it goes way beyond just “removable” by merit of the fact that NO ADHESIVE RESIDUE should remain on the document or print if it is removed.
As an example, below is an original hand-illuminated printed book page from 1496 from my personal collection.
As seen in the pix above pix, I could use freakin’ duct tape to mount this page and I could still “remove it” from its mat, but never in a zillion years could I remove – or “reverse” – the duct tape on the page itself without either spending gobs of money with a trained conservator (click here for our full blog on Conservators / Pros You Should Know, as mentioned above), or wrecking it completely.
See where I’m goin’ with this, folks?
“Removable” does NOT equal “reversible.”
What you CAN (and SHOULD!) use are Filmoplast Tapes. The features of each tape vary by the particular type you choose, as some are best suited for mending pages and documents while others are ideal for hinging artwork or for book binding repairs. To get a sense of what’s what, please see the list of applications below to find the Filmoplast tape that’s right for you. You can also call or email us with any questions you may have, as we’d be happy to walk ya through it!
Filmoplast Tapes: What’s What
OK, now that we’ve briefly discussed what NOT to use, let’s take a look at what’s what with regard to the Filmoplast Tapes you SHOULD use.
Archival Methods offers 4 different Filmoplast Tapes, each designed for different purposes and applications. These include:
• Filmoplast P
• Filmoplast P 90
• Filmoplast P 90 Plus
• Filmoplast SH & Filmoplast T
So, let’s take a look at each one.
• Filmoplast P is a thin, transparent tape ideal for mending torn documents and book pages. It also comes in handy for hinging artwork done on lightweight paper, as the hinge won’t show through. It is easily dispensed right from the box – you just pull on the release paper (on the center-right in the pix above) and the tape comes out ready-to-use (on the left of the pix). The adhesive tacks slowly, allowing you to reposition your piece during application, and then “sets up” over time for excellent adhesion. And guess what? Like ALL Filmoplast Tapes it’s acid-free, it won’t yellow with age, and it will remain flexible – an important feature for book pages that might be turned often or family documents that are handled frequently. In fact, you might have to worry about the archival quality of the paper you are mending way before you EVER have to worry about this high-quality mending and repair tape (which is never, just sayin’). Filmoplast P comes in a roll 1-inch wide x 100-feet long.
• Filmoplast P 90 is a self-adhesive white paper tape perfect for hinging artwork and repairing book bindings. The long-fibered structure of this material makes it durable and tear-resistant, and provides a secure means to hinge even larger artwork. Filmoplast P 90 comes in two convenient widths: .8-inch wide x 164-feet long for smaller hinging or repair jobs / 1.6-inch x 164-feet long for larger hinging or repair jobs (see pix above).
• Filmoplast P 90 Plus is specifically designed for fine art hinging. The adhesive used is a refined version of that found in the original P 90 (see above), and provides better initial- as well as final-bond strength, all while retaining the same stable aging characteristics the entire Filmoplast line is known for. Filmoplast P90 Plus comes in a roll .8-inch wide x 164-feet long, with the same easy-to-use dispenser box as described in the Filmoplast P information above.
• Filmoplast SH (white) and Filmoplast T (black) are self-adhesive fabric tapes with a strong adhesive. They are ideal for hinging window mats to their backing boards due to their archival properties and long-term strength and stability. They also work well for repairing the exterior binding of books. Filmoplast SH (white) comes in a roll that is 1.2-inches wide x 82-feet long / Filmoplast T (black) comes in a roll that is 1.2-inches wide x 33-feet long.
Important Notes: If you have a valuable book – either monetarily or sentimentally valuable, as mentioned above – you may wish to consult with a conservator (please click here for more information) before attempting any major repair work on your own. We also do not recommend applying either of these fine tapes directly to artworks because of the strength of the adhesive makes “reversing” them a bit more difficult (use Filmoplast P 90 or P 90 Plus instead).
So, in closing, if you’re looking for just the right acid-free tapes for your hinging and repair projects, please consider using museum-quality Filmoplast Tapes. They’re just right for zillions of archival applications, and will give you and future generations the peace-of-mind that your work was done right!
In addition, if you have any questions or would like more information on any of our museum-quality archival storage and presentation materials, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.
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