Care and Cleaning of Glass Stereoviews
There is a lot of good information available on the web (just Google "photograph negative archival preservation" or such), but some of it is timid ("let the professionals do it") or conflicts with advice from other sites. What I've found to work most effectively with regards to cleaning involves a lint-free mat, cotton gloves, soft camel-hair or natural hair make-up brush, an air bulb, a cleaning solution and cleaning pads, and q-tips.
Wash your hands, put on the cotton gloves and hold the slide over the mat (in case you drop it).
Determine which side has the emulsion on it. This can often be difficult with thin glass slides so I look for the side which has dichroic silver crystals growing on it. This is the silvery coating that happens in the darkest areas of the emulsion.
Use the air bulb and blow off any loose dust, particles, etc.
Use the brush to remove hair, etc. Dab with it on the emulsion side to trap the particles in the brush fibers as dragging it across will likely scratch the emulsion (silver dry-plate emulsions are very easily scratched). Just drag it across the glass side.
IF NECESSARY, clean off any remaining fingerprint oils, etc. using a non-water based professional cleaner and pads. Some common brand names are PEC-12 and Rexton. I like using q-tips to dab (and remove) the cleaner on the emulsion side and pads for the glass side. Be sure to let the cleaner soak a little before removing. Only do this step if you really need to since any liquids may adversely react with the emulsion or left-over processing chemicals, causing softening, flaking or loss of detail.
For archival storage I place a piece of archival paper (acid-free, lignin-free, passed the Photographic Activity Test) on the emulsion side and slip the slide + paper into an archival sleeve. For the French slides (6x13 cm or 45x107 mm) I use polyethylene sleeves made for 120 size film negatives (the kind with a flap along the long edge). I buy it in 1000' rolls and cut individual sleeves to size. Slides are then stored together upright in archival boxes.
Thanks to Doug Jordan for this practical advice. For more information or to exchange cleaning tips, contact Doug through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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