I have a collection of coal minig stickers that were my father's. They are all in good condition and I want to preserve them and keep them safe. I took them to a local chain store hobby shop to be put into a shadow box. The person helping me told me the stickers would be attached to the backing board with two sided tape. However, when I picked up the finished product, the employee who actually did the project peeled the backing off the stickers and applied them directly to the mounting surface and did a terrible job in the process! I am beside myself. The whole point was to save them in their original condition. Is there a safe way to remove them and restore them to their original state?
Using the steam from a kettle will loosen the stickers enough for you to slowly and carefully peel them off. As soon as you get them off I would try to keep them straight so they don’t dry all crinkled and twisted.
Be very careful. If you steam them for too long you may ruin the finish on them.
Tools: Get a heat gun (some auto parts stores will rent you one) A straight edge razor Non-stick paper (like the original backing of the sticker, craft stores will have)
Action: Put the heat gun on the lowest setting and hold at least 6"s from the sticker. Wave the heat gun in a side to side motion until you can feel that the sticker is very warm. Using the razor, gently try to slide the blade under the edges of the sticker, lifting them from the base. Repeat until you can get your thumb and pointer fingers firmly on the edges. Use your heat gun with one hand and start slowly lifting the sticker with the other. Hold the heat gun at a safe distance from your hand and keep waving left to right. Once sticker, is removed, place on non-stick paper.
Stickers -- especially old stickers -- only stick once. This is because they are either 1) not sticky enough or 2) pull fibers from the present backing making the surface no longer sticky. Even if you were able to get the stickers to peel off, they'd be curled beyond repair.
You could spend some time cutting around the edges with an x-acto knife. This would be time consuming, and it wouldn't restore them to their original state, but it would at least leave them able to be put somewhere else using double-sided tape or whatever.