Monday, September 23, 2013

Shaving Houdini's Back

I can see how it might seem like a good idea. That Houdini poster looks a little flimsy. Why, here's a nice, sturdy piece of cardboard. Let's slather it in gluestick and slap that poster on there.

No. Do not do that please.

Cardboard may be sturdy but, say in a hundred years you want to remount it? Maybe use something a little nicer this time? Yeah, no. That cardboard is staying on there forever. Great job.

Actually, we can remove cardboard backings. It's just a bit of a gigantic labor intensive process. The reason we prefer linen-backing is because it's so easily reversible. But should you find yourself with a cardboard-backed poster, do not despair. Here's what we will do:

First we shave off the cardboard in layers while the poster is clamped face-down to a board.

John has a variety of hand-sharpened spatula tools for this process. Some are sharpened such that one side of the spatula digs deep for removing thick layers, while the other side skims the surface for delicate shaving.

Here you can see a tiny area of the bare poster underneath all that cardboard. We are not going to shave it clean down though. Too many opportunities for hole-making there. Instead we will leave a thin layer of cardboard which we will then steam off.
Post-shave, pre-steam.

John sprays both sides of the poster with water and a cleansing agent called Orvus. He then positions it between two sheets of mylar and squeegees out the excess water.
Robin shoots steam directly into the wet cardboard. This will loosen the adhesive.

October's coupon code is: Albatross.

I turned my back for one second and the backing was almost completely removed. The steam is that effective.

She gives it one final rinse and squeegee. I really wish there was a better word for squeegee.
Robin then checks the pinholes and any other previous damage to make sure it's all laying flat before she mounts the poster.

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