Make Your Own Humidity Chamber for Rolled Documents or Comics!

How To Flatten Folded Or Rolled PaDer Documents

Paper records such as maps, newspapers,  and documents that have been rolled or folded for long periods of time often may be safely flattened using carefully controlled humidification.

According to the National Park Service, “Paper records such as maps, newspapers, and documents that have been rolled or folded for long periods of time often may be safely flattened using carefully controlled humidification. ”  What does this mean?  That means not all books will benefit from this procedure.  Use this as a guide on determining whether a book or document will benefit from this procedure.  Do not do this procedure on a brand new modern age comic book.

THREE STEPS TO HUMIDIFICATION
“There are three basic steps to humidification: cleaning, humidifying, and weighting or flattening.   Each step requires somewhat specialized equipment that can be easily constructed from materials gathered from common sources, such as hardware and fabric stores.”

CLEANING FIRST
“It is important to remember that any dirt on the surface of the paper may become muddy during humidification and will set further into the paper fibers. This will make the paper difficult if not impossible to clean in the future. The surface of the paper should at least be swept with a soft, natural fiber brush before humidification. If the papers are heavily soiled, consult a paper conservator about surface cleaning before proceeding.”  Use tips on this guide using Absorene.

“Before proceeding with humidification, remove fasteners such as clips, staples, brads, and rubber bands. “

INSPECTION PROCESS
“Extreme care must be used when initially opening papers that have been folded or rolled. While some papers remain supple over time, others may grow increasingly fragile due to inherent  weaknesses, widely fluctuating temperature and relative humidity, or exposure to light and/or to chemicals in the atmosphere. As a result, paper remembers creases, folds, and curls. If records are not flattened carefully, they may crumble and their valuable information will be irretrievably lost.  Never attempt to open a rolled or folded piece of paper if you are uncertain of its physical condition,  particularly if the climate is extremely dry (less than 35% relative humidity).”

SOURCE: https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/13-02.pdf

STAPLES AND RUST
So with that in mind, you really should remove the steel staples from the comic book.  With that disclaimer stated, we are not going to remove the staples from the comic book.  We are attempting to make improvements, not restorations.   Since the duration time period will be only 30 minutes, I do not believe that is long enough for iron oxidation to set in on a staple that currently shows no signs of rust.  Scientifically, and depending on your climate conditions, it’s more realistic to assume light rust would begin to set in at the microscopic level within 2 days.  Steel can start to corrode (microscopically) immediately upon exposure to the elements.  Since we are leaving the comic book in for 1-2 hours, it’s probably not going to cause rust.  The heat press will absorb the humidity moisture and dampness of the book within minutes before rust can take proceed.

SHOPPING LIST
Head to Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores and I’ll show you how to make your own moisture chamber for restoring or flattening rolled documents, posters, and comic books!

by KaptainMyke

You will need:

  1. One 40 quart plastic storage tub
  2. Five 4″ pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers
  3. One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen
  4. One Weber deluxe grilling pan
  5. One gallon of distilled water
  6. Timer
  7. Eyeballs
  8. Comic book that needs humidity or moisture treatment for pressing.  Not all comics benefit from this chamber.  Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age benefit the most.  I would not place modern comics in this chamber.
  9. Experience through trial and error
  10. Something heavy to place on top of lid like a bag of charcoal or dog food.  I use another storage tub full of supplies as a weight for the lid.
  11. Silicone Release Paper

See the following photos as an example to make your very own $50 hydration humidity chamber!

Dry Cleaning FIRST, then MOISTURE before PRESS
It is important to remember that any dirt on the surface of the paper may become muddy during humidification and will set further into the paper fibers. This will make the paper difficult if not impossible to clean in the future. The surface of the paper should at least be swept with a soft, natural fiber brush before humidification. If the papers are heavily soiled, consult a paper conservator about surface cleaning before proceeding.

Before proceeding with humidification, remove fasteners such as clips, staples, brads, and rubber bands. “

SOURCE: https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/13-02.pdf

DRY CLEAN + STAIN REMOVAL OF DOCUMENT OR COMIC BOOK FIRST
Inspect the book or document first and lift any folded over creases and flaps.  Lightly dust off and wipe the surface clean lightly with a lotion free Kleenex or dust cloth.  Be sure to dry clean your book or document with Absorene and other materials mentioned in this guide.

TIME DURATION OF BOOKS INSIDE CHAMBER
15-30 minutes is probably ideal for most books.  Keep it to a minimum and start slowly.  Too much moisture can and will ruin a book!

PRESS COMIC BOOK OR DOCUMENT INSIDE HIGH HEAT PRESS
Begin to press the book or document for the first time at 150 degrees for 5-7 minutes on front side up with two sheets of silicone release paper above and below the comic book.  After the initial 15 minutes, replace the 2 sheets of silicone release paper and flip the book over, rear cover side up.  Turn off the press.  Cool down the book for 1-2 hours.  Replace the sheets now with one sheet above and below the book and proceed to press as normal.  150 degrees on one side for 5 minutes, flip the book and repeat.  Turn off press with the heat off.  Leave book in press as heat exchange cools down.  Cool down book for 12-24 hours or more for final press.

PHOTO STEP-BY-STEP BUILDING OF YOUR HUMIDITY CHAMBER
This method is recommended over using a Conair clothes humidifier steam gun.  It’s safer, too!

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

Five 4" pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers

Five 4″ pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One Weber deluxe grilling pan

One Weber deluxe grilling pan. You can probably find any grille surface but be mindful of divets or ripples in your books. Less surface area is better. Do not use a wire grille!

Five 4" pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers

Place the five 4″ pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers in the bottom of the storage tub.

Weber deluxe grilling pan.

Set your Weber deluxe grilling pan on top of the pvc pipe spacers. This keeps your book away from water directly.

Fiberglass or nylon window screen

Set your Fiberglass or nylon window screen on top of the grille surface as a barrier from the metal rack and your comic book. This will allow your book to breathe better.

Fiberglass or nylon window screen

Place a second set of Fiberglass or nylon window screen above your book, so that there is 2 screens below and 2 screens above your book. This also helps push the book down gently without using extra weight.

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

Distilled water

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

Distilled water

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

distilled water

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

You should see condensation or humidity start to take place inside the chamber.

You should see condensation or humidity start to take place inside the chamber.

Wait 1-2 hours.

Wait 15-30 minutes. Keep checking on the book to make sure nothing has moved or slid out of place.

Fogging up!

Wait 15-30 minutes. Keep checking on the book to make sure nothing has moved or slid out of place.

After 2 hours remove book.

After 15-30 minutes remove book. This book was left inside over night as an initial test. I would recommend 15 minutes to be safe.  Do not leave your books in overnight.  Period.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.  This book was left inside over night as an initial test. I would recommend 15-30 minutes to be safe.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.

This piece of paper was lifted after the first pressing of the damp book.

This piece of copy paper was lifted after the first pressing of the damp book.  It seemed to lift a lot of loose oil and staining but did not lift any ink or line art.  2 hours later it was completely dry and white again with no trace of designs from the comic book.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

 

How to Press Comic Books

I have decided to try and dive into the subculture and rabbit hole known as comic book pressing.   I decided to invest in a  professional grade t-shirt heatpress machine for this adventure. It makes perfect sense because KaptainMyke is already in the business of t-shirt designs and heatpressing silkscreen art.

Edit 9/17/2017 :  Now you can learn and try to press comic books yourself at home! Read my FAQ How to Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Press by KaptainMyke.

Where to begin? I’ve read and seen countless examples of bad pressing. Scorched books, waves or ripples appear on the comic book several hours or days later. Many times the comic book returns back to its original shape before pressing – like a memory foam mattress!   I am not here to endorse amateur pressing but I am posting here my findings and experiences so far.   Temperature and moisture levels are key.   So what is one to do when water or moisture is paper product’s worst enemy?

I thought I would try the realm of singular heat/cold exchange on pressing. You press a book for 20 minutes, flip the book over for an additional 20 minutes, and turn off the unit…leaving the book inside the press for 4 hours after. This proved to be wildly successful…so here goes my photo documented results with my very first press.

I used one of my son’s new comic books. It’s a brand new Newsstand Edition copy of Scooby Doo Team-up #27, featuring Plastic Man. This comic book is rough! My son is 10 years old and autistic, so he frankly does not care at all what happens to the book, so long as the book is opened to the page he likes the most, and on the floor for him to look at anytime in any random moment of his choosing to admire.

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and creased front corner. Yikes!

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and creased front corner. Yikes!

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and creased front corner. Yikes!

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and creased front corner. Yikes!

I regret I didn’t take enough photos of the back but here are a few good angles for you to inspect:

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and waves on the back cover. Yikes!

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and waves on the back cover. Yikes!

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and waves on the back cover. Yikes!

The first trial comic book pressing: 2017 DC Comics Scooby Doo Team-up ft Plastic Man #27. You can see the wrinkles and waves on the back cover. Yikes!

I used 2 sheets of normal copy paper on top and below the comic book inside the heat press.

I used 2 sheets of normal copy paper on top and below the comic book inside the heat press.

I used 2 sheets of normal copy paper on top and below the comic book inside the heat press.

I used 2 sheets of normal copy paper on top and below the comic book inside the heat press.

I tried an initial temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes on each side. This seems to be the best temperature but today I am trying 170 degrees.

The trick is to turn off the heat press after the second 20 minutes and leave the comic book inside the heat press for an additional 1-4 hours, depending on the severity of the the initial creasing and waviness of of the book. Leaving the book in the press is crucial if you do not wish to use a sinus cold or clothes fabric humidifier. I do not suggest using humidity on the book. It’s called a “dry press” and “dry cleaning” for a reason. Leaving the book in the press for as long as possible will prevent the book from returning to its original “memory foam mattress” condition.

After 4 hours later, here are the results of the first comic book pressing by KaptainMyke:

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top left side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top left side of back cover.

Results of 1st comic press. Front of cover. You can see the crease on the bottom right corner to see it's the same book.

Results of 1st comic press. Front of cover. You can see the crease on the bottom right corner to see it’s the same book.

Results of 1st comic press. Top down left side view of front of book.

Results of 1st comic press. Top down left side view of front of book.

Spine results of first press. You can obviously see the color breaking spine ticks but overall previous damage of spine is nonexistent.

Spine results of first press. You can obviously see the color breaking spine ticks but overall previous damage of spine is nonexistent.

Bottom right front corner of book shows the color breaking corner crease but it is flattened out very smooth and flat.

Bottom right front corner of book shows the color breaking corner crease but it is flattened out very smooth and flat.

Results of first press. Back of book. No damage.

Results of first press. Back of book. No damage.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down left side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down left side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down right side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down right side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down right side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down right side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top left side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top left side of back cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top left side of front cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top left side of front cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top right side of front cover.

Results of first press. Back of book. Top down top right side of front cover.

As you can clearly see, for my first trial run of dry heat pressing a comic book, the results are wildly remarkable and astounding.  Total success!  There are a few remaining dings but for my first press this is fantastic.

A few things I’ve learned:
Use copy paper on the top and back of cover for pressing.
Pages with glossy magazine paper will stick together when temp is too hot.
When this happens, wait for book to completely cool down before separating out pages stuck due to modern high gloss paper.
Do not press books with a square bound spine, such as graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns or The Killing Joke.
Spine rolls are not a problem. The press easily resets spine rolls but you will have color breaks most likely.

The name of the heat press is a VEVOR Digital Controller heatpress machine. Model CP230B. Temperature can be adjusted from 100-400 degrees.  Brand new they can retail for $250-$400.  Used you can buy one for $150 but you will need a new bottom pad most likely.

EDIT:  So CBCS comics suspended my account for 7 days and deleted my post on the forum at forum.cbcscomics.com.  

I guess free information exchange isn’t allowed.   I was also not aware this was against company forum policy since they have not updated their terms of use.  

Amateur pressing should not threaten their business model.  The fascists who operate the discussion forum do, however.   

 

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

VEVOR Headpress Machine. Swivel stand and pressure screws give this heat press total flexibility for various sizes and shapes of books. The pressure plate screws will help adjust for all different sizes and thickness of books.

Here are the results of some more books I’ve recently worked on. I performed a sort of dry cleaning and dry heat pressing on the following books:

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. This one is beat up and has bad spine creasing with color breaks. Before heat pressing.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. This one is beat up and has bad spine creasing with color breaks. Before heat pressing.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. This one is beat up and has bad spine creasing with color breaks. Before heat pressing.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. This one is beat up and has bad spine creasing with color breaks. Before heat pressing.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

1988 DC Comics BATMAN #428 1st Printing NEWSSTAND EDITION. After heat pressing and spine realigment.

Next I tried a cheap newsstand edition of Supergirl from 1994. This one had bad wrinkles and wave in it throughout the entire book. Looks like moisture possibly hit the book. Here are the results:

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. Bad waves, wrinles, and appears to be moisture damage. Before dry cleaning and heatpress.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

1994 DC Comics SUPERGIRL Vol 3 #1 NEWSSTAND EDITION. After dry cleaning and heatpressing. Waves and wrinkles gone. Interior pages are flat and bright white. Back cover is flat and creases gone but color breaks still evident.

So now, you can learn and try to press comic books yourself at home! Read my FAQ How to Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Press by KaptainMyke.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. BEFORE dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.

1966 Marvel Comics AVENGERS #32. AFTER dry cleaning and heatpress and total spine realignment.