Repairing Wrinkled Rolls
By John Phillips
|"Repairing Wrinkled Rolls" -- what a fine example of alliteration that is, Jim Canavan; it rolls off the tongue beautifully! And I'm pleased that someone has brought the problem up.|
It's really disappointing to acquire a desirable roll in apparently excellent condition but which plays a few unwanted notes in the treble or bass. This usually happens right at the end of the roll, just as you are letting out the breath that you've been holding all through the roll's first playing. Sometimes the extra notes (ciphers?) occur right at the start of the roll. Then you are disappointed immediately.
[ And you needn't hold your breath for the whole song! :-)
I think that the problem occurs because the roll paper has been stretched on the side where the ciphers are. My guess is that the damage is caused by the roll not being wound up properly, and left that way for many years. In my limited experience, ironing a roll improves creases and wrinkles considerably, but won't help fix problems due to stretched paper.
I spent a lot of time on one classical roll with some ciphers at the start that I badly wanted to cure. I ironed the roll, hung a heavy weight on the tag for some days to try to stretch the rest of the paper, and tried cutting a tiny wedge-shaped piece of paper out of the middle of the stretched section of the roll before drawing the cut edges together again with repair tape. (Rather like taking in a seam in a garment, I suppose.)
None of this helped. In desperation I cut the stretched sections out and replaced them with paper salvaged from another roll, but by now the section of music had been so abused that the ciphers _still_ sounded.
So far, it's all bad news, but I don't think the situation is hopeless. I've been mulling 'round the following scenario in my mind for a long time; maybe Jim's note will be the necessary spur to get it started. I would try this:
1) Let the section of roll with stretched edges hang vertically, and clamp it firmly at the top.
2) Clamp a heavy weight to the roll at the bottom of the stretched section. I envisage two pieces of wood with felt glued to them that clamp right across the width of the roll. This should produce a uniform tension in the roll paper everywhere except where the roll is stretched. The tension there should be close to zero.
3) Increase the humidity until the roll paper begins to relax and stretch. It should stretch permanently where the tension is high but not where there is no tension. You might end up with a slightly longer roll but one with no ciphers in it.
No doubt everybody can see boundless possibilities for disasters here, like ripping the roll apart. Obviously the tension would have to be chosen carefully, probably after a few accidents. The hanging weight would need to have supports a few millimeters below it to stop the paper stretching too far.
Several years ago I exchanged letters with a paper conservator and I got the impression from her that one could actually wet the roll paper without permanent damage; I think she suggested spraying it with an atomiser. This sounded so alarming that I wasn't game to try it. But I'll get back to her.
I must make it absolutely clear that I'm not suggesting that anybody else tries the above idea before I do; it is very much untried! But if anybody has got any comments or thinks it's just crazy I'd be glad to hear from them.
(Message sent Wed 5 Feb 1997, 06:17:25 GMT, from time zone GMT+1100.)