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"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost


Book restoration

Another passion of mine, except for the topics you read about on this website, is removing labels from books and book restoration. In general, I like recovering any kind of poor paper bodies: geographical maps, documents, etc. Once I've even put together a thorn off 2-leva bill that was, surprisingly, spent on the very same day without any problem.
These are my recent amateur tries for label removal of the unfortunate Railway Ghosts, which appeared to be an ex property of Greenwi(t)ch Libraries. Before my paranoid interference, the first page looked like this:

The nightmare of every bibliopole! What person, who is supposed to love books, a.k.a. a Librarian, would allow such marking and tattooing on whichever book it is? Even the horrible Bulgarian translation of Hancock's Supernatural doesn't deserve that!

I rolled up my sleeves and initiated my alchemical sacralising. I turned off any music, I counted up to ten, took a deep breath and opened the window. After all, I was going to operate with bleach and acetone. Of course, I had prepared myself beforehand, what do you think? I am not such an amateur. I had been reading all morning forums and websites about how you could clean the unthinkable of a book. About how you could change the destiny of a book. Hallelujah.

First, I brought the subject into the Purgatory. Using a cotton swab with acetone I precisely manipulated the glued spots. I thought that nothing would come out of this, but after a few seconds the big old label started to come off. Success! The same thing happened to the other two labels, the one up at the right, and the other down in the middle.

Then the time of the ink stamps came. Everywhere on the net you would read that there is no way you could remove an ink stamp of a paper. That was a sufficient argument for me to obstinate and give it a try! Somebody comes to me and tells me there is no way, anybody? Yeah, right :) I triumphantly raised my hand holding the acetone swab and said: "Railway Ghost, in the name of science! As above, so below!" (Though I don't really know if there are any books with labels at Level 27...) I carefully started to rub the ink spot with a piece of cotton. It got colored with ink and actually started to fade out. Attention! It is very important not to rub too hard, as the paper gets thinner! I had come across a video on the net, where the guys worked out an ink stamp with acetone, scraping what has left with a knife after that. This does not work with all types of paper, remember that! The main factors here are the age of the paper, its type and the ink type. For instance, new high-quality glazed paper would be easier to clean than this librarian rarity of mine. Such paper was being cleaned in the fore-mentioned video, where the ink disappeared almost instantly, as with a magic wand. However,  this is not valid for all!

And so, long story short, cause I've got a ritual to do (breakfasting), the ink spots were gone. This cost me patience and faith in the end result. Don't give up. However, being a first try, on the spots where I obviously had put too much acetone, the ink has dissolved and absorbed in the paper itself, and thus, causing a slight coloring. I decided to risk with Plan B.

I poured a small amount of bleach in a cap, got a new cotton swab and manipulated a small area to see what would happen after it dried. The paper changed its colour - it whitened and in this very moment the destiny of the whole page was set into stone. Whitening! I am not a racist, for the record. I inflicted an even layer of bleach on the whole page and here is the result: 

Not that bad for a first try. And here is the color difference after bleaching:

So now I have to iron the wrinkled page and we are all done! Let the paper dry completely and set the iron on delicate ironing (for curtains and stuff). If the surface of the iron is impaired, you have to put a cotton cloth on the paper before ironing! Then you put it under a pile of books and it will be like a brand new. I can say this from personal experience, because I had ironed about 20-30 pages of a book that was wet and I eventually sold it. So, не страхуйте ся.

There were fails, of course. I am a newbie-wannabe-book alchemist, after all. Something went wrong with the next page, though I did it all precisely. I think the ink was kinda different, or the bleach screwed it up, being left for more than an hour on open air. I guess.

This little guy down there brought all the evil out of me. And it was hidden very deep!

I rubbed, and I rubbed, and I rubbed....

Ugly, ha? Massive fail! Strangely, this happened to another page too:

I still can't figure it out, and eventually it bored me so I abandon it. Have in mind that the bleach gets yellow in time, and use it wise!

Sapere aude.

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