Removing Adhesive Tape From Sketches Using Eucalyptus Oil

The bulk of this topic has been copied directly from a post on anime-beta created by Sensei. The original can be found here. Given that anime-beta can go through occasional periods of down-time, it may be prudent to duplicate some of the valuable knowledge stored there. This is part of that effort.


You will need:


This is the strategy that has been reported to work:

  1. Wash your hands, before and frequently during the process, as dirt and oils from your skin can also cause damage down the road. Some collectors use inexpensive throw-away cotton gloves during this process.
  2. Put the sketch down on the cardboard base, tape side up. Use one of the swabs to dab eucalyptus oil all around the edges of the tape. (Do this for no more than 4 inches of tape at a time, as the oil evaporates quickly).
  3. Turn the sketch over and saturate the paper directly under the tape with the eucalyptus oil. Don’t be cheap – the more you use, the cleaner the tape will come off.
  4. Turn the sketch over again and use the craft knife to get under one end of the tape and slide the blade between the tape and the paper. It should separate from the paper smoothly but reluctantly. When you get enough of the end up, you could grab it with your fingers and peel it the rest of the way. Go slowly and watch out that the paper doesn't start peeling up with the tape. (This happens more often with thin yellow or pink paper than on thicker paper.) If you see a peel starting, stop, turn the sketch over, apply more eucalyptus oil, and start again from the other end. For thin paper, stick with the craft knife and go more slowly.
  5. When the tape is off, soak the swab again in the eucalyptus oil and flood the area where the tape used to be. It's the adhesive, not the tape, that causes the damage, so you want to saturate the area to soften as much of the remaining adhesive as you can. You will often see the adhesive "resist" the oil and leave a dry spot underneath. When you see the oil soaking evenly through the area, that's a sign that you are removing the worst of the glop.
  6. Take a paper tissue and rub the place carefully, looking to see that the adhesive is coming up. It is generally best to wipe in a single direction at a time. When you’re done, the paper should look “flat,” not “shiny.” This can take more time than you think. You will likely need to add more eucalyptus oil after the first effort to get up all of the stickiness. Change tissues regularly.
  7. Let the sketch dry out thoroughly. Overnight is best.
  8. Put the tape, used swab, and tissues in a trash bag and put them outside, unless you're very attached to the smell of eucalyptus.
  9. Bag the sketch to keep now-separate pieces together and prevent any damage that remaining adhesive might cause to sketches stored next to it.


A few warnings:


Other info:

This method has been used successfully to remove tape from watercolor backgrounds and did not shift or lift the colors on the items tested. However, this may not be universally true and caution is recommended in such cases. Also, the eucalyptus oil can move dirt embedded in the paper around the tape as it soaked through the paper, so that when it dries, there are a series of "tide marks" around where it is used. Careful blotting with a cotton ball soaked in the oil may be necessary to redistribute the dirt and soften this "ring around the tape spot." (One library site suggests filling a tray with the solvent and soaking the whole sketch in it to avoid such "tide marks.")'


A note from Sensei (the original author):

This is no more than a record of my personal experience with the process, checked with a number of online librarians' sites dealing with the same issue. For that reason, I'd be happy to be challenged or corrected on any of the procedures mentioned. My only priority, as I've said elsewhere, is to try to ensure that the art objects that I collect remain in at least the same physical condition in which I received them. This is a challenge, as most forms of animation art suffer from what paper collectors refer to as "inherent vice," or the tendency to deteriorate over time due to the very substance from which they are made. Yet they are unique records of a creative process, and once they are defaced, they are defaced for eternity. It's important for serious collectors to confront this issue and find some safe, responsible way to check this deterioration.

Revision #5
Created 11 October 2018 23:52:16 by Earl
Updated 25 June 2020 21:50:41 by Earl