(Maybe) How to Literally Flatten a Heavenly Inferno - Part One
I'm not a hardcore Magic The Gathering player, but I enjoy the game on occasion. I looked through my box of cards and decks last week to take an inventory, and possibly ask my spouse to play a game or, stated more accurately, ask my spouse to kick my butt at a game. In the process, I found my Heavenly Inferno Commander deck. If you don't know Magic very well, it's all good, I'm not going to throw out a bunch of nerdy jargon. You just need to know that it is a pre-constructed deck of cards I purchased seven years ago, and it is a favorite deck of mine. However, the cards aren't flat. They have a curvy warp to them.
Back in the day, the Heavenly Inferno deck was already a bit warped out of the package. It might have been shrink-wrapped too early after printing, or exposed to some moisture during shipping. I don't know. I immediately sleeved the cards, it still didn't really flatten out, but it helped. Fast forward to last week: it looked pretty bad. The warping seems to have gotten worse over time, even with a large moisture-sucking desiccant packet in the storage box. Taking the deck on a trip to Hawaii years ago probably didn't help much, either. The cards are not damaged at all, and the deck is perfectly playable, it just would be nice if the cards were flatter. I put them under some heavy RPG books for a week. No dice. Still warped.
So Google to the rescue. Many recommendations involve the already-tried heavy book technique, radiant heaters, dehumidifiers, wood clamps, hair dryers, steamy bathrooms, weeks of acclimation, and even clothing irons. These cards have monetary value, so I don't want to expose them to any moisture or extreme temperatures for sure, but I figure the best way to fix the warped cards is, well, to warp them again, but in a controlled manner. Ultimately, all advice involved application of pressure, temperature, and humidity, which makes a lot of sense when dealing with paper. So, here's what I'm doing...
First, I unsleeved all the cards. I used Ultra Pro soft sleeves, aka, "penny" sleeves, like all the rest of my Magic cards. That may have been part of the issue. Being cheap economy sleeves, they are not a snug fit at all. If the flattening is somewhat successful, I'll switch to clear Dragon Shield perfect fits or equivalent to get them as much form-fitting support as I can.
Next, I gathered them into four piles of 25 cards each (commander decks always contain 100 cards.) For protection, I placed a few sleeved expendable cards (lands) on the top and bottom of each pile. I took the cards out to the garage and set up an area on the workbench. I sandwiched the card piles between a few sheets of paper for more protection, and. for pressure, placed a 30ish pound box of spare A/V cables on top of the card sandwich.
It's late spring up here in the Pacific Northwest, and although we have a relatively mild climate, we can experience some swingy temperatures this time of year, like 85F/30C in the day to 50F/10C in the evening. Humidity follows in step; this afternoon it was around 40% and it will be up to 94% tonight. The garage won't experience temperatures that extreme and will stay pretty dry, but it certainly will get warmer and cooler out there. Our home, with central air conditioning, rarely deviates from 71-73F/22C in the summer. The plan is to leave the cards in the garage for a little while to experience some heat and pressure. I haven't quite figured out how long, but at least until rain or cooler temps are in the forecast. I don't know. I'm winging it here.
Then I'll transfer the cards inside to get acclimated to house temp, again placing the cards under the RPG books for about a week or so. Hopefully, I'll have warped them back to a nice flatness. Or they will stay the same, and this is a waste of my time. We shall see.
Stay tuned for updates!