Glenn asked: Is there a way of removing wax pencil crop marks from old photos? I recently purchased some old photos from the archives of a local paper. Some have black wax crop marks and some have what looks like white out on them, apparently to remove shadows on the original photo. I have heard that baby wipes will remove wax pencil marks, but I’m hesitant to try it on these really great photos. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.
Wax pencils are commonly used to crop photos both for publication as well as to mark for trimming during scrapbooking projects. They work well because they are easy to remove from the photo’s surface. Here are a few methods to remove the wax markings as well as any white out that was used for touch ups.
Removing Wax Crop Marks
You Will Need:
- Soft cloth or Paper towels
- Brown paper bag
Steps to Remove the Marks:
- Start by gently rubbing the wax marks with a soft cloth or paper towel. This should remove the wax markings.
- If the marks are not removed with the soft cloth, you could try to remove them with normal wax removal techniques.
- Heat an iron to warm.
- Cover the wax markings on the picture with a soft cloth or brown paper bag.
- Apply the iron on top of the cloth or paper bag. Do not allow the iron to touch the photo directly.
- Remove the iron after a few seconds. The wax will have melted and transferred to the cloth or paper bag.
- Repeat if necessary.
Removing White Out From Photos
White Out is similar to paint and can be difficult to remove from delicate photo surfaces. Here are a few steps that can be taken, but use caution and watch the photo carefully to keep it from becoming damaged. Once the paint is removed, there is no need to continue on with the rest of the steps. If the photo can’t tolerate the cleaning steps without becoming damaged, it may be worth it to keep the White Out in place to preserve the photo.
You Will Need:
- Razor blade
- Soft cloths
- Mineral spirits or Paint thinner
- Cotton swabs
Steps to Remove the White Out:
- Start by rolling the picture. Sometimes as the paper rolls, the white out will crumble and break off.
- Brush any crumbled white out off with a soft cloth.
- If the white out remains, you may be able to scrape it off gently with a razor blade.
- Carefully run the razor blade across the surface of the picture. Keep the razor as flat as possible so as not to damage or cut the photo.
- If white out can’t be scraped off and won’t crumble when rolled, there is a last resort removal step. However, this can damage the surface of the photo and should be used with great caution. Do NOT use this method with antique or fragile photos.
- Moisten a cotton swab with a small amount of mineral spirits or paint thinner.
- Blot the cotton swab onto the White Out.
- Immediately blot with a soft cloth or paper towel. Turn the towel with each blot to keep from reapplying the removed paint.
- Repeat until no more white out transfers to the cloth or the photo becomes too fragile to continue.
Additional Tips and Advice
- There is a commercial product called Googalies. It is an acid free, soft cloth that can be used to wipe dirt and fingerprints/smudges off of photos.
- If the photos are valuable, it may be worth it to have them professionally repaired, especially when removing white out from the surface.
- Glossy photos are typically easier to clean and more durable. The glossy coating provides more protection for the photo.