Here’s a list of the materials you’ll need to encapsulate properly and with minimal trouble. Most can be purchased through any of these archival supply catalogs.
- Polyester film (Mylar)
- An X-Acto type knife. Olfa is another brand name that has snap-off blades.
- Lint-free cloth, to clean the Mylar and create static electricity
- Quarter-inch double-stick tape—I use 3M Scotch Brand tape No. 415
- Grid paper to help with measurements and to help cut straight lines
- A weight to hold down the work while you’re cutting, sizing and measuring
- Squeegee to remove the air between the sheets of plastic
- Brayer to ensure good adhesion and remove excess air
- Corner cutter (or you can use a sharp, new nail clipper)
- Cotton gloves
One last note before you begin: The acid content in most papers or documents will hasten the deterioration and also turn the paper yellow. This can be eliminated by a deacidification process, which neutralizes the acids in the papers. (It’s not necessary for photographs.) If you’re encapsulating documents and want to deacidify them, you can place a piece of acid-free buffered paper (available through most archival supply catalogs) under the document first. The only problem with the addition of the buffered paper is that it will keep you from being able to view both sides of a double-sided document.
When you’re ready to start encapsulating, the easiest way to organize your work area is to use a table that you can access from all four sides. If you have to keep turning your work, you may end up having to realign the Mylar pieces several times.