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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Antiquing Papyrus - any ideas? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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BillyTheSquid
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Hi,

I've done lots of antiquing of paper materials, ranging from teabags to pot permang. Has anyone got any experience of working this material to a great antiquity? I know it's got to be dark brown and have a moth eaten style to it, but are there any particular chemicals people use?

Thanks for looking!

Cheers,
Matt
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Fine sandpaper and dust or ashes to begin with.
BillyTheSquid
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Good idea! I know that the lignin needs to be broken down but didn't think of a physical way of doing it, just chemically, a la...

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=eMWeJ......&f=false

I'll try that first..

What are the next steps?

Cheers,
Matt
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Try it first, then look what is missing to look antique.
BillyTheSquid
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Nice! Breaking down the surface like that really helps. Ashes rubbed in. Rolled up and fibres broken along the cracks allow the ash to really penetrate. I went harder on some parts to create holes like insect make, and finally did brew up a cup of tea to get it a darker brown colour. It's drying at the moment so I'll see what it turns out like tomorrow.

Having never actually handled ancient papyrus myself, how brittle is it?

Thanks for your help with this one Curator.

Cheers,
Matt
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Ancient papyrus is extremely fragile. Opening an antique Book of Thot is a very delicate and complex operation.
You may also use some chemical that disolves cellulose in the papyrus.
wkitwizard
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Can't go wrong with Soy Sauce. Try it full strength and let the liquid seep into the paper.
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Quote:
On 2009-08-14 18:47, wkitwizard wrote:
Can't go wrong with Soy Sauce. Try it full strength and let the liquid seep into the paper.


I was thinking along the lines of this. I originally (radically) thought about some sort of BBQ sauce; something weak, so as to not put off an odor.
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George Ledo
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I'm guessing you have done your research and looked at pieces of real ancient papyrus, if not in real life, at least in color photos. With the Web and all, it's fairly easy to do. One of the biggest problems people have when "antiquing" objects is neglecting this first step, and ending up with a piece that looks like a cheap prop. The trick used by theatrical and movie pros is to really understand the history of the item: what it is, how old it is, and where it's been all this time.

An old papyrus scroll, for instance, most likely sat in the desert, either in a tomb or a cave, and dried out over the centuries. That's what makes it brittle. If the scroll was inside a container, then the dust on it is just little pieces of itself or of the container. Just now I did a quick search and came across a piece that was in a museum and had an insect eat its way partly through it. That bug was probably in the museum itself, not in the original container. Surface marks like discoloration generally come from the material itself, or from handling by careless people.

If I were doing a horizontal scroll, and wanted it to look like it had been opened a number of times, say back in the 19th century, I'd make the middle portion of it (middle, as in top-to-bottom) more distressed than the rest, simply because this is where people would normally grab it to open it, especially if they were careless. The outside edge, especially, where a person would use his thumb to open the scroll, would be more ragged than other parts. The back of the scroll would have finger marks from unrolling it carelessly, and maybe a poke-through here and there.

You get the idea. Have fun, and post a photo if you get a chance.
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BillyTheSquid
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OK, so I tried the following on a sample scrap of papyrus I had lying around...

Prior-research - "antique papyrus" on Google images brought up some good samples. Thanks George for the info... I agree that it's important to research what you're trying to end up with or it'll potentially look nothing like the real thing.

Process: Good sanding with fine glass paper followed by a good rubbing in of charcoal ash. Thanks Christian for this starter tip!

Then, a good teabagging followed by some physical piercing / ripping of edges whilst still damp (a good sharp scalpel worked well here).

Padded dry with paper towels.

Once dry, rolled to break the fibres horizontally in some places.
Dabbed again with a tea bag. Didn't read about the Soy sauce until after I'd finished, but thanks wkitwizard to the idea - I'll try that next.

Dried in a warm oven (one that had been switched off but was still warm - thanks to the missus for cooking the food previously Smile ). This caused the scroll to re-roll itself back again - wierd!

I unrolled it and flattened it out in a book before finally adding some sample heiroglyphics with black india ink (no I don't have a kohl pencil / pen to do this in the authentic way).

Hopefully these images will give you some idea of what I ended up with...

Image


Before & After...
Image


Insect holes whilst rolled up in "storage"
Image


Close up of some more "damage"
Image


This is my first run at this, so please comment on how it looks compared to original stuff and where things could be improved.

BTW - don't try and decipher the heiro's, it was just stuff I cobbled together to give some effect. However, if I've written something rude, let me know Smile

Cheers,
Matt
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Nice start, should be decolored a little. Maybe some ashes again.
George Ledo
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Looking good!

I might suggest "drying out" the holes so they look a little more like the edges. Right now they look very fresh.

If you can get a small piece of the material and grind it up to powder in a mortar & pestle, you can rub it lightly over the whole thing. This would be the papyrus drying itself out and breaking up over the centuries.

Not to be nit-picky, but if you do another one, you may want to check out the orientation of the writing on the scroll. The ones I've seen tend to open "horizontally" intead of "vertically," which means the writing goes 90 degrees to the way you have it.
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WayneL
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Wow that paper looks awesome. Very realistic! Nice work
BillyTheSquid
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Ok, back from a little hol.

Thanks for the comments here guys...

Christian - will get burning some paper to give a grey ash this time and see what happens when that's applied. Thanks.

George - thanks for the tips. I'll certainly make the writing horizontal on the proper version of what I'm intending to produce. I'll also grind up some papyrus in the ol' pestle & mortar (been wanting to use that thing since I bought it for spices 10 years ago!). I'll "cook" some fresh stuff first so it's really brittle and grinds easily. I'll also see what I can do about the insect holes, I'm sure there's some way of breaking them down more before applying the final ash / tea solution.

Will let you have a look when finished.

Cheers,
Matt
ghostgaff
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Where does one get papyrus anyway? I saw this topic and became inspired to try this for myself.
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In the US, blank sheets can be had from eNASCO.com online in their arts and crafts catalog.

Do remember, the stuff is made by self forming mucilage form the plants, so getting it wet can release the goo and let the strips separate.....

And drying in an oven will dry things out- i.e.- make like desert sands....<it ages newsprint very nicely!> to get that crackly feel.
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Paul Prater
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Our local art store carries it. If you have one locally look there. I'm not talking about Michaels or Hobby Lobby (though they may have it, don't know) but a real art store.
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Really nice results.

Be sure and 'fade' the writings somewhat.

NICE JOB!
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BillyTheSquid
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OK - managed to get a little time to devote to the papyrus project (what with car fixing and attempting to divert a £350 bill Smile for a dodgy ABS system by using salvagers - never pay full price for anything is my motto).

Thanks for the positive comments and help with this guys. Doug, it's an honour to receive such praise from a master in this field - many thanks!

I sorted out the holes according to George's comment.

So... Grinding papyrus in a pestle & mortar... No go I'm afraid. By the time you've cooked this to perfection, the stuff is still so strong it simply won't grind to a powder. I ended up rolling up some papyrus and sanding it down, collecting the powder. However, the powder isn't stained by the tea so looks fresh Smile. It is possible to dry it and regrind it after it's caked, but I spotted an alternative for the powder, something which also decolourises the papyrus after tea and also fades the writing...

I went to put on an incense stick and noticed I'd not cleaned out the smoke box from the last time. Ah - ancient coloured ash! So I grabbed a fingertip full and rubbed it into the papyrus and, well, here's the results:

Image


and a close up

Image


I added a little ash powder onto the surface to look like the surface is breaking up (less is more here).

Let me know if this is more or less what we're looking for with an antique papyrus (Google image results look pretty much like this, but those who have 1st hand experience of this would be able to help further).

For those who want to find out where to get papyrus from, I used the auction site that's boasting of 10 years online, making sure it was real papyrus and not just a papyrus printed paper.

A great project and well worth the couple of hours research. Lots of fun and I've learned quite a bit about ancient papyrus to boot.

I love this side of magic, much better than buying a modern looking sparkly glossy prop that is sterile of provenance.

Cheers and keep up the creative side of magic!
Matt
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Matt,

Wherever you are in the UK, you're almost sure to be just a stone's throw from a museum with an Egyptian collection:

http://www.ancientnile.co.uk/linksmuseums.php

http://www.britainsfinest.co.uk/museums/......code/260

When making a copy, there's nothing like looking at a reference piece with your own eyes.

Great work!

Lin
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