About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

R is for Restoration - S.A.E. tray, part 1

Right - The first thing to do is take the damaged tray apart slowly and carefully, making sure as to not extend any existing tears, picture shows the tray laid out with the already separated tag.

Then, the really nerve-stretching bit; run the tray under a warm tap, warm water will penetrate more easily than cold and seems to help soften the card, although this may be pure imagination. This phase needs to be very quick, I had a firm hold of one large area of card and my fingers are supporting the other main area underneath. All you're trying to do is get it damp all over.

Immediately the card is covered with water and has changed/is changing colour as the water penetrates, get it on to a porous surface, I'm using an end-grain cutting board (for reasons that will become apparent in part two), and start to dab of the excess water with copious amounts of kitchen-roll.

Inset - where there is damage of the twisted/scuffed-card type, gently ease the card back into its proper shape/position, or press down as I'm doing here, below is the torn piece now back in place. [In fact - you can see in the left hand photo, how it was scrunched-up]

Note: Depending on the printing type, you might do this phase with the printed surface uppermost. Later (1970/80's) laminated card might stick to the under-surface at this point ant peel-off when you try to lift it. Because this is earlier print which is fixed into the card it's safer to do it this way as you can see more blemishes on the undecorated side.

Now we come to the (another) really nerve-stretching part! Dry the board after the card has been dabbed, and lay down a couple of sheets of unbleached paper, printer/craft/artist or type-writer, just make sure it's unbleached, so that while the product is still damp it doesn't take up some bleach which will cause problems in years to come. Not to say that it may not already have bleach in it! - yellowing packaging is a sure sign of bleached paper/card.

Holding another piece of the same unbleached paper (see how I'm carefully over-emphasizing the bleach thing, I'm so good to you!!!!), proceed to iron the product with a dry (that's DRY, not steam) iron on a low setting, you don't want to burn it by accident, taking too long on one area. Lift and move the paper regularly (burn thing again) so you get an idea of how it's going, in the picture you can see how it's starting to dry-out from the bottom left.

Once it's all reasonably dry on one side, you will notice it starts to curl up (as a single sheet though, not individual tags or flaps as it had aged. At this point turn it, iron the other side until it too starts to curl, then turn it back give it a quick go again on the first side and stop. You should now have a single sheet of reasonably stiff card which is all but dry (the cheek test - laundry - will reveal it is still slightly damp), it should now be left for 20 minutes or so to dry-out fully under the head now within it, check for curling after ten minutes or so, if it's curling profoundly, give it another go both sides, a slight curl can be ignored.

Notes: If doing say a first-version Airfix (cartoon artwork) box, you'll find the card very delicate while the ink will take a lot of punishment, while the later 'Blue' and 'White' boxes will have better card but delicate print. The 'Long' boxes are pretty robust in card and print, but the later grey-blue Humbrol and current boxes will de-laminate with a POP! if the iron is remotely hot, so warm-to-touch and patience. Not that you'd bother with a modern box as you can just source a replacement. The thing I'm getting at is - Experiment with packaging you're not fussed about until you've 'got' the techniques you're happy with. I've reinforced boxes by painting them with wall-paper paste in the inside, letting that dry naturally and then damping them with a spay-bottle before following these steps, to prevent the card sticking to the paper, I used foil, and a higher heat. If you give it a try, you'll soon have techniques of you're own you'd swear by!

More next time, when we sort out the tares which are still there, half-hidden by the ironing and rebuild the package only to have a minor disaster!

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