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Sunday, April 21, 2013

waterproofing ink

Hi all, there is a new sefer torah that has a beautiful ksav but I have already been called a few times to fix it for moisture damage. Once it had what looked like a drop of rain that had maybe fallen from someone's hat, and once it had what was obviously a spit mark that had caused a negiya. The ink seems very water soluble and it's making the owner nervous, as twice already they put it back during laining. While I explained that these things happen, he asked me if there were any preventative measures that could be taken to waterproof the ink, such as spraying the sefer with fixative?

Anyone have any ideas or experience?

11 comments:

  1. There is a place that offers that service here:
    http://www.keset-hasofer.co.il/covering.asp
    I have no experience with it.

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  2. I have some experience with using fixative but only on very rare occasions as no-one really knows what fixative will do to the parchment over time or indeed the ink - it could damage it. I've only used it when there was absolutely no way of preventing new ink repairs from crumbling off not merely to prevent moisture damage. Also I'm told if you put fixative on throughout it does apparently affect the weight of the torah. I don't know if this is the case.

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  3. I agree with R' Mordechai here, there is definitely a risk to using a fixative spray, and it should only be used in an emergency. If you do decide to go ahead with it, I would recommend getting a very high quality fixative, say conservation grade spray, that is guaranteed not to yellow. Senelier produces a good product called Senelier Lascaux Fixative
    http://www.utrechtart.com/Sennelier-Lascaux-Fixative-MP34658-i1011178.utrecht
    It's more expensive and it does have powerful fumes, but I think it's probably the best available.

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    Replies
    1. I am previously a professional conservator/librarian - I can definitely endorse the Lascaux Fixative. I have used it on antique artwork that is far more delicate than Sta"M with great success. If you are going to use a fixative, use this brand or at least one that is conservation grade. "Artist grade" or "professional grade" is no good. However, DO NOT use ANY fixative on Torahs that are mashuach, whether on the front, back, or both. Oddly, sometimes the klaf turns a dark grey or even black over time, often within a few years. The color permeates the klaf too. No idea why.

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    2. Does the fixative waterproof it or just stop it from "jumping"?

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    3. Fixative is often used on charcoal or pastel drawings to stop them smudging (rather than jumping)so I guess it could prevent water damage which is like a smudge similarly. Never tried it.

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    4. I believe it would make the ksav 'water-resistant' as it forms a layer of acrylic resin over the klaf. This should enough for inadvertent drops of water of spittle. I don't think it would be much good against flooding, or a broken water main.

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  4. Oh yes, I agree ... please be careful R. Eli, these sprays are very bad for you if you breath them in. As a graphic designer I used to work with spray mount a lot in the past which I'm sure was very bad for me.

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    Replies
    1. Only use outdoors or under a ventilation hood. They are nasty, nasty chemicals!

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  5. One problem to consider for the future - after spraying, it is practically impossible to make a kosher future correction. Writing after spraying is writing on a plastic layer, not on klaf.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed and therein lies an halachic obhection that I have seen in that the spray represents a chatsitsa between the ink and the k'laf. That said, the chalky stuff, that sifrey torah I have fixed often have, is a similar barrier. Others argue that if you have to fix it again after spraying then clearly the barrier must have broken down.

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