Archival Dust Jacket (DJ) Restoration
Archival dust jacket restoration is a controversial topic. Read this whole blog through because you will need all the information to decide if this is the right thing for your dust jacket. This particular blog post applies only to one specific kind of dust jacket: Older (if you know the approximate dates please let me know), plain “white” paper dust jacket with colored front. It is water resistant but not plasticized (possibly clay-coated). These dust jackets function like two pieces of paper laminated together. There are frequently splits and cracks that separate the two layers. Earlier dust jackets are sometimes printed on color papers or have no layers and later ones typically have plasticized layers.
Here is an example of the kind of dust jacket I am talking about here:
Perpetual Caveat: Don’t work on rare or expensive dust jackets except to preserve the pieces all together if they are actually separated and only then by tacking them together in a minimal way with archival paste and Japanese tissue. Practice on unimportant dust jackets.
First I will cover the Save Your Books Repair Guidelines, then Tools and Materials, Things to Know Before you Begin, and Rules for Dust Jacket Restoration. After that, I will break it down into the repair hierarchy steps of Clean, Color, Correct, Paste, Protect. At the very end you can see the restoration for this dust jacket including the verso side.
This is meant to be a hierarchy of things to consider. Take the free course to read more about this.
Tools and Materials
- Close up glasses, jewelers magnifier head gear or a magnifier light. This depends on your eye sight.
- Light Table or at least a Shadow Tracer (like the one in the Page Repair Kit)
- 320 grit Sandpaper
- Dry-cleaning pad
- White polymer eraser
- Damp rag to clean fingers with (in a bowl)
- Paper towels
- Bone Folder
- Teflon Folder
- Small Weights
- Wax paper
- Baking parchment
- SC 6000
- Various thicknesses and Colors of Japanese tissues
- Ruler or straight edge
- Bit of stiff plastic (I use.005 Dur-a-lar) to use as a straight edge.
- Cutting mat
- Exacto knife
- Paint brushes: 1 inch and 1/4 inch flat and a small pointy one too.
- Water pen
- Archival white glue like Jade 403
- Paste (I use Nori Paste)
- Natural sponge
- Acrylic Paints: Golden brand is nice. See below for list of useful colors.
- Color Pencils: Prang and Prismacolor are nice.
- Micro archival pens. .05 or even .005
- Spray fixative (archival) to keep colors from moving.
Acrylic Paint: First Tier:
- Quinacridone Crimson
- Cerulean Blue
- Cadmium Yellow
- Titan Buff
- Raw Umber
- Yellow oxide
- Raw Sienna
Acrylic Paint: Second Tier:
- Burnt Umber
- Burnt Sienna
- Jenkins Green
- Pthalo Blues both green and red shade
- Cadmium Red or Alizarin Crimson
- Various Matte or Gloss mediums
- Others depending on your project
Two things to know before you begin:
- The first most important thing to know is that the book market is controlled by the purist book collector and that top 1% doesn’t want any repair or restoration done except to prevent further damage. If your DJ (with book) is worth greater than $1,000 (this is a random number meant to signify great value) or is rare, you should think twice before doing anything to it. Most likely, you already know that a dust jacket can be worth around 70-80% of the value of the book. All of that said, I have restored dust jackets extensively for clients who just want their shelves to look complete and they have been happy with my work.
- Another really important thing to know is that when you hold a dust jacket up to the light you should be able to see all of the repair and restoration work. This is why I am not very concerned that the restoration might fool people into thinking it is untouched which is a very real concern for collectors.
Rules for Dust Jacket Restoration:
- Never color on top of original material.
- It is possibly ok to color on top of scraped or torn areas because they are already destroyed. But don’t overlap onto original undamaged areas. The reason I am not gung-ho (only saying possibly) on this is that the coloring may bleed through or spread in ways you don’t want it to. This is not for the faint of heart. Using colored pencils is safer than paints or pens because paints and pens soak in vs staying surficial. See below for more on coloring.
- Don’t cover up original areas except to prevent further damage. For instance on the fore-edge fold there is sometimes cracking that is out of control (getting worse every time you open the book). For this I will sometimes use a Very Thin Japanese Kozo tissue with paste over that whole area. It is practically invisible and completely reversible. I only do this if I think the protective “mylar” cover won’t be enough to prevent further damage.
- Repair tears from the back as much as possible.
- Less is more! The repair material should be so weak that, if stressed, it would tear before the original materials would tear.
Glue vs Paste:
• Use archival paste rather than PVA for all repairs. PVA (poly-vinyl-acetate) glue shows more than paste and is not reversible, although it is more flexible so there are times it may make more sense but always in a mix of part PVA to paste. Read more about the differences between glue and paste in this free course.
Fill in Losses:
I will have to create a video course for this someday. In the meantime here is the general idea and some ways to accomplish it.
Color the replacement material and then connect it to the dust jacket!
- Be a great artist and copy from a facsimile. (No problem, right?)
- Use a light table and trace from a facsimile.
- Scan a facsimile into Photoshop and tweak it to be more correct then print it onto some Japanese tissue that is same thickness as the dust jacket. Or it could be printed onto thinner paper/tissue because you can add it on top of something else to fill in. Always consider the thickness.
- Make a color photo copy from another good copy of the DJ. Print directly onto Japanese tissue (like Sekishu) by taping all along the feeder side of the paper.
- You can get many facsimile book jackets from www.dustjackets.com but be aware that they do not always match the colors well.
The Save Your Books’ Repair Guidelines applied to Dust Jackets
Only do what is necessary. The paper is fragile and won’t take much pressure. Consider cleaning both the recto and the verso sides (front and back). But ask yourself: “Is cleaning really going to improve this?” Cleaning must take place before coloring or adding any adhesives to keep the dirt from being trapped.
- Dry cleaning pads are only useful for dust jackets with obvious ‘dirt’. They would not be good if there are a lot of loose bits of paper or lots of tears. It can be hard to see what is going on under the pad. Consider doing this sort of cleaning while the dj is on the book to better support the fragile spine and fore-edge folds.
- White Polymer Eraser will be good for specific things like a pencil mark.
- 320 grit sandpaper (the kind from 3M with the sticky back is great because you can tear off a tiny piece and put it on your finger to closely control what is being cleaned. Only use this for really dirty edges that are fluffy anyway. Obviously don’t do sanding while the dj is on the book.
- Just wiping the dust jacket with a humidified cloth (barely damp) might remove dirt but it also might move or even remove color so Test First!
- Adding isopropyl alcohol to your water could actually make this safer because it is less wet that way. Try a mix with 30% or even more.
- Don’t wipe with a wet cloth. The difference between wet and humidified is that for a humidified cloth there should be absolutely no drops of water coming off the cloth even if you squeeze it really hard.
- Only use things like household cleaners (409 or glass cleaners) on actually plasticized covers.
- Some chemicals like lighter fluid could be useful for removing tape. This is a whole other topic. Test first and use all chemicals in well ventilated areas and use gloves too.
- Don’t use any citrus-based cleaners.
With DJs you want to avoid coloring directly on the original material. All coloring mediums can show through or even bleed through to the verso. A light touch is necessary. It is tempting to just take an archival pen and start dabbing at the DJ but be aware that if you dab on an area that is very thin the ink will bleed through. This is especially true at the edges of tears. When there is a loss. Instead, fill in the loss with tissue that has already been colored to avoid the bleed through. Remember to read ALL of this blog before beginning any repair.
When there is bleed through there is no way to fix it!
Small cracks in color can usually be filled in fairly easily because the non-damaged color will be resistant to the new color. This helps avoid the dreaded halo effect. A halo is where you add color to a loss area and it overlaps onto the original color creating a new color usually all around the loss like a halo or target.
- Regular Colored Pencils: These can scratch the paper. Dampen the tip to make the color flow better.
- Watercolor Pencils: The color flows a bit too easily and doesn’t stay put as well.
- Watercolor Paints: Too dangerous. They are so wet they drag the color through to the verso.
- Archival Pens (black): For filling in bits of black lines like the title of Lassie Come Home in the example photo. Tiny tip micro black pens are great. .05 or even .005. Other kinds of archival pens could be useful but don’t apply thick tipped markers directly because they will bleed straight through. To fill in straight lines have a clear ruler or a bit of stiff polyester film. That way you can see what you are working on more easily. If you mess up and draw where you don’t want ink, you may be able to scrape off the mark with the book repair knife but more likely it is permanent. That is why this is not a technique to try on a valuable book.
- Acrylics: These can be very useful applied to bits of tissue to be applied on top of the dust jacket. Overlapping at raw edges only (as much as possible). You can use acrylics to tint Japanese tissue like Sekishu for the verso of the dust jacket. See the blog post called How to Tint Japanese tissue for Book Repair: http://saveyourbooks.com/color-japanese-tissue-book-repair/. On color matching: http://saveyourbooks.com/color-matching-a…restoration-less/.
- Colored Tissues: You can start with a color tissue and adjust it with other color methods. Japanese Paper Place in Canada and Hiromi in San Francisco have plenty to choose from but you can also find some at www.talasonline.com or in your local art supply store.
- Printers: You can work in photoshop or Indesign or any other design program to create the illustration or text needed to fill in losses in a DJ. Printing it on Sekishu or even thinner tissue is possible by taping all edges down of the tissue onto a regular sized piece of paper. This can go wrong and get mucked up in the printer but I have had good success with it. I recommend Epson pigment inks because they soak into the paper more than others. Getting the right colors can be tricky. Scan at at least 300 dpi. If you can find a whole copy of the same DJ you can just use that to work from. Otherwise search for an image and work from that. Try myfonts.com’s: “WhatTheFont” for a great way to get help re-creating text.
- Shine: Before you do anything to add shininess, make sure the colors won’t run. See “Protect” below. Shine can be added with SC6000, acrylic gloss medium or spray fixatives. Make sure the fixative is archival.
All the coloring should be done already except that you may notice more things that need attention as you go along. The main point of the hierarchy is so that you won’t glue things and then wish you had colored them. Correcting means to line up and repair the tears. It could mean lining the entire verso side of the DJ but that is extreme. Repair the larger tears first then the smaller ones. Then fill in losses.
A couple of videos for filling in losses.
Shadow Tracing. Remember to trace for two pieces of tissue, one for the recto and one for the verso sides. Maybe even trace three in case one goes wrong. If you want different tissues for each side keep it in mind and trace them as appropriate. Use a water pen or thin liner brush and using the water pen, trace the negative space of the loss onto the tissue. Pull the tissue apart carefully. It is harder to do this after using acrylics to color the tissue so I will usually tear the shape out first. There are exceptions of course. You want nice longish fibers that will extend onto the edges of the loss. Trim the long fibers if they are too long.
Use a white background to trace dark dust jackets and a dark background to trace light dust jackets. Don’t try to be exact at the edges. Leave some tissue sticking out beyond the edge and trim the excess later. You can use low-tack blue tape to hold the piece you are shaping in place on the plastic of the shadow tracer. This helps you be able to lift it to see what is going on underneath easily. You can use a light table instead of the shadow tracer if you have one.
Use an archival paste like Nori Rice starch paste. There are rare occasions when you may use a PVA (white glue) but it won’t be for valuable dust jackets. Use a hair dryer to dry but make sure you don’t have wax paper in contact with your DJ while you are drying it. Baking parchment is good for this. Or dry the dust jacket naturally between sheets of wax paper with no heat, just patience.
Fixative: If colors you have added are not fixed then spray the entire dust jacket with a very light, even, fixative application. Make sure it is archival.
“Mylar” cover: Protect and preserve your dust jackets with a polyester film cover with an acid-free paper backing. The thickness should be 2 mil at least. It is better than the 1.5 mil. It wrinkles less and just feels better. Get 3 mil. for really serious protection. Make sure there is a paper liner and that it is acid-free. Some come with adhesive tabs to stick the plastic to the paper backing which is fine but unnecessary and are we sure it is archival? The adhesive may transfer through that paper someday. I usually just remove the tape to be on the safe side. Don’t add your own tape to attach them to the book cover. That is a public library thing and works for them but not for collectors.
Here are some places to buy book jacket covers. Consider investing in a ph testing pen to test the backing paper. If the backing paper is acidic it will really hurt the dust jackets and even the book covers eventually. Test on an area that you can cut off.
- Gaylord has the 2 mil. archival ones but no paper backing.
- Brodart “Just a Fold” is the name. I have been assured (after asking them) that all the paper backing at Brodart is acid-free.
- Demco has 2 mil. but mentions recycled paper backing rather than archival paper backing so I am concerned it is not archival.
- Carr McLean seems to have 2 mil. with archival paper but only in roll form. In the pre-cut form they don’t say archival paper. Maybe ask?
And finally, Here is the dust jacket fully restored!