Defining “archival”

As I’ve gotten more and more involved in rubber stamping and modern scrapbooking, the easy use of the word “archival” has always bothered me.

A long time ago (about fifteen years ago), I worked as a picture framer. One of the subjects I learned about was conservation methods of picture framing. What has stuck with me, through all this time, is the one thing said over and over again: do nothing that is not completely reversible.

All wood-based papers contain fibers that eventually break down. Buffer that sheet of paper, treat it, do whatever you may…… eventually, it will still break down. Dyes, pigments, etc. can transfer onto whatever materials are touching them. Adhesives become gummy. All of these things affect the original material in a manner that changes it – in an manner that cannot be completely reversed.

The only “safe” archival, conservation methods use papers made of cotton fibers, devoid of dyes and pigments. The adhesives are reversible – rice paste, with paper hinges.

With that said, I am an avid scrapbooker. However, I harbor no illusions that I am preserving my memories for the ages. I am simply participating in an art (or craft, depending on your point of view), that I thoroughly enjoy. That thought has freed me to use whatever materials I truly want, within reason. The truly important pictures and memorabilia I have are saved with materials I know will preserve them for the longest possible time.