Large sheets of scrap white paper (1) are placed under the plans to protect them from picking up dirt left on the desk. The paper also serves to catch the dirt removed from the plans during cleaning. The magic sponge comes in large blocks (2), and small squares (3) are removed using scissors or an X-acto knife. The sponge absorbs and removes dirt, and is less likely to remove ink or pencil markings.
The block eraser (4) provides a more thorough cleaning, leaving the paper looking brighter. The stick eraser (5) is the most precise instrument. The tip can be cut into a neat edge using an X-acto knife (6), which helps when one it trying to remove dirt from around pencil markings without them. The pencil marks were added after the plans were drawn in ink, but can still be very significant. In this plan reflecting the interior design of the Senate Reading Room, the pencil drawings are some of the most ornate and interesting, and include the suggestion of a portrait on the wall.
Here is the Senate Reading Room as it exists today. I'm not sure that it exactly represents this architectural plan, but it is beautiful nontheless.
As the dirt is removed using the erasers, a brush (7) is used to remove dirt and eraser shavings from the work area. When applying pressure to the plan to keep it steady during cleaning, pieces of acid free paper (8) are used to protect the plan from the oils on human hands.
My next blog post will discuss the encapsulation process.
- Laura Pike, Preservation Intern