Book & paper conservation Category

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A Valentine’s Day Surprise

Friday, February 14, 2014
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Letter closedBlogAs part of our normal digitization workflow, all rare materials being scanned are first assessed for condition problems by the Conservation Department. Last week, during an assessment of the McDill family papers, we ran across this mysterious folded letter.

Written on both sides were numbered sets of rhyming couplets, which seemed to have a romantic tone. By carefully unfolding the paper, we revealed the full content of the letter; it was a proposal of marriage, complete with illustrations.

Letter unfolding 1BlogLetter unfolding 2Blog
Letter unfolding 3BlogLetter openBlog

While we had it open, we tried to reverse-engineer the letter, in order to make a model of our own. Many of the folds were torn, which made it more difficult to identify the original structure. With a little help from Google, we identified it as a “Victorian Puzzle Purse,” and learned that it was a popular way to fold a letter to that special someone.
Letter starBlog

If you would like to make a Victorian Puzzle Purse for your beloved, instructions can be found here: http://www.origami-resource-center.com/puzzle-purse-instructions.html

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Fixing a detached cover

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library recently acquired this sweet chunky 19th century religious text and brought it into the lab.  The binding had broken away from the text block after the first signature because it was so large. The cover was consolidated and the hinges were repaired with colored Japanese paper.

The book had broken away from the cover.

The book had broken away from the cover.

The hinges were fixed with colored Japanese paper

The hinges were fixed with colored Japanese paper

 

Hidden behind the binding and now revealed because of the failure was a nice piece of cotton cloth used as a spine liner. The spine was relined with gelatin sized Japanese paper for strength and the book was reassembled.  Once assembled the paper hinges were tinted with paint to match the original leather.  A four flap enclosure was made and the book was off to the NCSML to become part of their growing collection.

A scrap of cotton was used as a spine lining

A scrap of cotton was used as a spine lining

Tinted hinges to match the original leather

Tinted hinges to match the original leather

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Clay Tablet Gets Custom Box

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Submitted by Bill Voss

Clay TabletThis neo-Sumerian clay tablet, recording the sacrifice of a kid goat dates to ca. 2050 B.C. and is frequently shown to students as an early example of writing in cuneiform accompanied by the impression of a cylinder seal. Due to its frequent use it was decided to create a custom box which would keep the object secure and viewable behind a small window, but which also has the option of being further opened to allow the object to be removed from the enclosure. The tablet rests in a fitted recess in a block of ethafoam covered with cotton and hollytex (spun polyester) and can be seen through a window of polyester sheeting. To remove the object a flap secured by embedded magnets is lifted revealing the tablet as well as a second recess containing a pair of cotton gloves for safe handling.
Clay tablet nesting in boxBox completely open

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The Wunderkammer at Grinnell: Supporting Foldouts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Fold out_blogMany of the books in the Wunderkammer show at Grinnell had elaborate foldout illustrations, which required custom supports. These were typically made separately from the cradle, and were often strapped into place once the book was in its display case. It was important to strap the book so that the illustration was easy to see, but also to allow the book to open naturally, without putting strain on the binding.

The show opened on October 4th, and will remain up through December 15th. More details can be found here: http://www.grinnell.edu/about/offices-services/faulconer-gallery/exhibitions/wunderkammer

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The Wunderkammer at Grinnell: Making Custom Cradles

Friday, November 1, 2013
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Book Before Cradle_blog

Making the cradle_blog

Book After Strapping_blog

After all 93 items for the Wunderkammer show were unpacked and condition checked, they were prepared for exhibition. The most time consuming part of the process was constructing custom mounts for the 76 books being displayed. Bill and Brenna used a polyester sheet material called Vivak®, which was scored and bent to form the necessary shapes. Once the books were positioned on their cradles, they were secured into place using polyethylene straps.

The show opened on October 4th, and will remain up through December 15th. More details can be found here: http://www.grinnell.edu/about/offices-services/faulconer-gallery/exhibitions/wunderkammer

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The Wunderkammer at Grinnell: Unpacking and Condition Checking

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Submitted by Brenna Campbell

Condition Checking Tiny BookConservation Technician Bill Voss and Assistant Conservator Brenna Campbell recently returned from a trip to Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery, where they spent seven days installing the exhibition “From Wunderkammer to the Modern Museum, 1606-1884”. Ninety three items from the collection of Florence Fearrington were unpacked, checked for condition problems, and installed.

As each book was removed from its crate and unwrapped, Brenna examined it for signs of damage. Damage to a book includes a range of conditions, such as wear to the binding, weak or broken joints, failed sewing, tears, and stains. Any problems were noted, along with a brief description of the binding. This process provided a record of the condition of each book when it arrived at the gallery, and also highlighted items requiring special handling or care.

One particularly vulnerable group of bindings were those bound in parchment. Parchment is made from stretched and scraped animal skin, and is very reactive to changes in temperature and relative humidity. Because of their sensitivity, these bindings were gradually conditioned to the climate in the gallery before installation.

The show opened on October 4th, and will remain up through December 15th. More details can be found here: http://www.grinnell.edu/about/offices-services/faulconer-gallery/exhibitions/wunderkammer

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Tool Making for Conservation and Book Arts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Raw materials -- elk bone & needles -- (left) shaped into bone folders (right)

Raw materials — elk bone & needles — (left) shaped into bone folders (right)

Last month Conservation Technician Bill Voss served as a Studio Assistant to instructor Shanna Leino, during a two week class at the Penland School of Crafts on Tool Making for Book Arts. Shanna is a well known tool maker and alumna of the UI Center for the Book, whose tools and binding models are featured in the Model Bookbinding Collection housed in the Conservation Lab. Projects covered during the class included making bone folders, awls, punches, leather pairing knives and bamboo tools.
Awl and punch using Ipe wood, steel rod, brass tube

Awl and punch using Ipe wood, steel rod, brass tube

Leather pairing knives from hacksaw blades

Leather pairing knives from hacksaw blades

Heras -- Japanese paper mending tools from bamboo (left)

Heras — Japanese paper mending tools from bamboo (left)

Tweezers from bamboo

Tweezers from bamboo

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Anna Marie Mitchell Items Get Custom Enclosures

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Take a look at a couple of the newest enclosures our very own “box lady” Linda Lundy has completed.  Linda has been working on some items from the Iowa Womens Archive (IWA).  The latest items come from Anna Marie Mitchell.

Custom enclosure for Mitchell Diorama

Custom enclosure for Mitchell Diorama

Here is some info on Anna Marie Mitchell from  Karen Mason, Curator of the IWA.

Anna Marie Mitchell of Forest City, Iowa, was a missionary for the Lutheran Church in Japan from the 1950s to the 1980s.  In addition to this doll, housed in a wooden box made in Japan, she donated to the Iowa Women’s Archives a diorama of a typical Japanese home that she used when she was on furlough to show Americans what a Japanese home looked like.   Anna Marie Mitchell donated extensive photo albums of her years in Japan, as well as reports of her work, to the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Custom box for Mitchell doll

Custom box for Mitchell doll

Custom box for Mitchell doll

Custom box for Mitchell doll

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Book Repair Reback-a-thon

Wednesday August 14, 2013
Submitted by Susan Hansen

Cart of Finished Rebacked Books

Cart of Finished Rebacked Books

Our goal in the UI Libraries’ book repair unit is to return a circulating book to the shelf as soon as possible; however, sustained speed is not a top qualification for our students. In the day-to-day operation of the unit, we don’t have races. But when I mentioned an unofficial record for number of rebacks performed, two current student assistants immediately set a plan in motion to surpass that record.

Larry Houston and Sarah Luko are students in the UI Center for the Book and work in the UI Libraries’ preservation department. Both possess exceptional hand skills and an exemplary work ethic; they have mastered the technique of rebacking. After gathering volumes with damaged spines, Sarah and Larry went into production mode. They worked in batches, side by side, replacing the damaged spines with new cloth and reattaching the original spine piece when possible. The dynamic duo ran out of books before the end of the work day. The final tally was 84 rebacks, a number roughly twice the expected production for two experienced student assistants. Kudos to Sarah and Larry!

Minor Repairs Where Needed

Minor Repairs Where Needed


Trimming Loose Threads

Trimming Loose Threads

Into the Book Press

Into the Book Press

Finished stack, showing all the spine labels that need to be re-attached

Finished stack, showing all the spine labels that need to be re-attached

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Kent Theater Photos Rehousing Project

Friday, August 2, 2013
Submitted by Lindsay Shettler

The theatre photographs from the Frederick W. Kent Collection of Photographs are currently being stabilized, digitized, and rehoused for Special Collections. The theater photographs are organized by year and production. The first batch of photographs are pre-1936, many of these prints have unknown dates ranging from the late 1800′s up to 1936. The different photographic technologies and techniques used during the turn of the century help us determine this specific era.

Old photo from Kent Theater Collection

Old photo from Kent Theater Collection

The two large photo albums that I worked on were with the pre-1936 collection; each album held about 300 prints. These needed to be stabilized and rehoused before scanning. The stabilization included removing the screw posts and casing, cleaning and mending the prints, and interleaving every single page with unbuffered tissue. Custom 4-flap enclosures were created to house the prints in the original order.

The prints from 1936 and after are mounted to board with tape rather than in album form. The prints are removed from the board and cleaned. The adhesive does not completely come off the resin-coated prints and need to be removed with ethyl alcohol and cotton tipped applicators. Once the tape is fully removed the prints are ready to be scanned. After digitization the photos will return to the Conservation Lab for rehousing and then finally returned to their home in Special Collections.

 

Kent Theater Collection Photos in a 4-Flap Enclosure

Kent Theater Collection Photos in a 4-Flap Enclosure

Kent Theater Company Old Album Cover

Kent Theater Company Old Album Cover