Documenting and Treating Scrolls: Part 2

Friday, July 15, 2016
Submitted by Katarzyna Bator and Bailey Kinsky

Dry cleaning is the first step in most, if not all conservation treatments. Loose dirt and soil buildup collects on exposed portions of the object, in this case on the outermost part of the scroll. Additional dirt can find its way onto the surface of the object when it is handled with dirty hands. Soft brushes, vulcanized rubber sponges, and vinyl erasers are most commonly used in dry cleaning works of art and archival materials.

Dry cleaning with soot sponges to reduce surface soil buildup.
Dry cleaning with soot sponges to reduce surface soil buildup.
Overview shot displaying a comparison of before and after dry cleaning.  The five vertical columns of script on the left have been cleaned.
Overview shot displaying a comparison of before and after dry cleaning. The five vertical columns of script on the left have been cleaned.
A close up shot of dry cleaning with a soot sponge.
A close up shot of dry cleaning with a soot sponge.

Documenting and Treating Scrolls: Part 1

Thursday July 7, 2016
Submitted by Katarzyna Bator and Bailey Kinsky

We are both graduate students at Buffalo State College Art Conservation Department. We are spending the summer at the University of Iowa Library Conservation Laboratory partaking in a practicum of treatment and care of library and archives material. Using theory and techniques learned during the school year, we will work to gain hand skills and real world experience in conservation treatments working side-by-side with conservators at the University.

Our first project includes photo documentation and treatment of several scrolls from the Ficke Collection. Each one is over 20 feet long and all have suffered extensive insect damage making their handling unsafe.

Picture 1 : Bailey Kinsky photographing a scroll from the Ficke Collection. The Photographic set up includes a neutral grey background, color checker, and a ruler to aid in accurate representation of the actual object.
Picture 2: Katarzyna Bator (left) and Bailey Kinsky (right) unrolling a scroll from the Ficke Collection for photo documentation.
Picture 3: Bailey Kinsky assessing the condition of the scrolls and testing ink solubility.

Photographing a scroll
Unrolling a scroll
Assessing condition

Happy Holidays from Preservation and Conservation!

Highlights from 2015: William Anthony Conservation Lecture

 gary_frost_broadside

The second annual William Anthony Conservation Lecture was held on the the 8th of October, 2015.  Gary Frost, Conservator Emeritus and instructor of book conservation at SUNY Buffalo spoke about the history of bookbinding and the University of Iowa Conservation Department’s bookbinding model collection which was the creation of the lecture’s namesake.  The collection has grown into an invaluable teaching tool and asset to the conservation department and the University of Iowa Center for the Book.

Mr. Frost served as the University of Iowa Libraries’ conservator from 1999 to 2011.  Mr. Frost is credited with championing the teaching role of the conservation lab and its staff, a distinction of which the department still prides itself.

Gary Frost is a book conservator and book arts educator. His career includes faculty positions at Columbia University, University of Texas at Austin and University of Iowa. He is currently Conservator Emeritus, University of Iowa Libraries. Gary has been awarded the Banks and Harris Award of the American Library Association and the Lifetime Award of the Guild of Book Workers. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation.

For those who could not make the lecture, a video of the event is forthcoming, and details will be posted to Preservation Beat as available.

UV Photography in Buffalo

Last month, Assistant Conservator Brenna Campbell traveled to the Art Conservation Department at SUNY Buffalo State to take a workshop on using UV photography to learn more about cultural heritage objects. This qualitative technique is valuable both for identifying areas of change within an object — either from damage or treatment — as well as for tracking changes over time.

Instructors Jiuan Jiuan Chen and Dan Kushel expertly led participants through a variety of lectures and hands-on exercises. The group experimented with photographing a variety of objects, including paintings, prints, glass, baskets, and textiles. A few examples are below.

A study collection painting photographed under visible light
A study collection painting photographed under visible light
The same painting fluorescing under UV
The same painting fluorescing under UV. Areas of inpainting are easily visible.
The painting reflecting UV light
The painting reflecting UV light

Soot and Dust Clean Up

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Discussion soot clean upIt really is a small world. As a volunteer for the AIC-CERT Disaster Response hotline, I had a call with a question about soot drifting in from a fire a couple doors down. On further inquiry, I discovered that the caller was from Traer, Iowa, only 90 miles away. Rather than trying to explain how to go about cleaning soot over the phone, we agreed that an on-site visit would be best.

Cleaning and dust soot from bookWhen our conservator Giselle Simón and I met with staff at the Traer Historical Museum, we were much relieved to see that the dusting of soot was very minor. We discussed cleaning techniques and strategies for organizing the volunteer cleaning session they were planning. Giselle demonstrated how to use an absorene dry cleaning sponge and a microfiber preservation quality dusting fabric cloth. We encouraged them to purchase a Nilfik HEPA vacuum cleaner and recommended supplies. They sent us a note that they did make the recommended purchases and are ready to start cleaning.

A Mystery Solved!

Posted on behalf of Tiffany Eng, our intern from West Dean College

While making a phase box for A New Dictionary of Medical Science (1851) from the John Martin Rare Book Room, we came across a fragment of a print on the paper used as a spine lining for the book.

iowablog1

The medical dictionary’s print date is 1851, and the little bit of text remaining on the paper gave a year, 1852, along with an address, which let us know that the textblock sat around for at least a year before being bound.

Out of interest, we did an internet search to find that the address was the former London office location of Punch Magazine (then known as Punch, Or, the London Chariviari). It took a bit of sleuthing, including a visit to the library stacks to borrow the 1851-1852 bound journal versions of Punch, but we found that the spine lining fragment was a part of the masthead for the magazine.

iowablog3masthead

The original drawing was done by illustrator Richard Doyle and was used from 1849 to 1954. As a nice little cap on our mystery spine lining, Richard Doyle also happened to be the uncle of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, detective writer extraordinaire.

For those interested, the library has an archive of bound Punch Magazine volumes from between 1841-1900s

Links:
http://www.thebaron.info/comment/85-fleet-street-phil-davison
http://www.punch.co.uk/

Preservation & Conservation Welcomes New Hires

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beth Stone and Justin Baumgarten in front of Keith/Albee scrapbooksThe UI Libraries Preservation & Conservation department would like to welcome two new(ish) staff members, Justin Baumgartner and Elizabeth Stone. They join us as members of the Keith/Albee project team. They will be working together, along with other UI Libraries staff, to stabilize and digitize the Keith/Albee collection. Both Justin and Elizabeth are University of Iowa graduates who are no strangers to employment at the UI Libraries.

Elizabeth Stone started on July 21, 2014 as the Keith/Albee Project Conservator. She is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa Center for the Book where she studied bookbinding, letterpress printing, and book history. As a student, she worked in Preservation & Conservation salvaging flood-damaged items from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the African American Museum of Iowa.

Justin Baumgartner started on July 22, 2014 as the Keith/Albee Digital Project Librarian. He is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa School of Library & Information Science. As a student, he worked in the UI Libraries Special Collections & University Archives and interned for the Digital History Project at the Iowa City Public Library.

The duo will shepherd 125-150 oversize scrapbooks through conservation and digitization workflows during the next three years. Visit the growing digital collection at digital.lib.uiowa.edu/keithalbee .

The Keith/Albee project is a three-year project to stabilize, digitize, and provide online access to the Keith/Albee collection which documents the activity of a prominent vaudeville theater company through more than 40 years of business. The records chronicle the expansion of the Keith/Albee circuit, changes in its leadership, and the eventual decline of vaudeville.ka_blog_q1bBlog

The Keith/Albee Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

New Housing Option for Conservation

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Submitted by Bill Voss

Goblet in phase boxWith the recent acquisition of a riveter and a board creaser, the Conservation Lab has a new housing option – phase boxes constructed from sturdy 40 point featuring fore edge closures made of nylon string and riveted vinyl washers. Stronger than a regular 20 point four flap enclosure, and quicker to make than a full clamshell box, these phase boxes can also be modified with Volara foam padding or Ethafoam wells to accommodate objects of various shapes and sizes.Series of plates in phase box
Cross in phase boxCompleted phase box

Drying a Wet Book

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[ezcol_1half]Interleafing a Wet Book[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]As a Preservation Librarian, I should know better than to read a book while taking a spa bath. Last week I did just that and dropped my book into the tub. Oops! Luckily I caught it before it was entirely submerged.[/ezcol_1half_end]

[ezcol_1half]Pressing the Damp Book[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]

I took immediate action. I grabbed some copy paper from our home printer and folded the paper in half and interleafed every few pages to start soaking up the water. Then I put the book into a “press” by using a cutting board and cast iron skillets. The press helps by putting a little pressure on the book to blot up the water and to keep the pages somewhat flat. The next day I pulled out the wet interleafing paper and inserted new but in slightly different spots.[/ezcol_1half_end]

[ezcol_1half]Drying Interleafing Paper[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]I laid out the wet interleafing paper to dry so I could re-use. I repeated this process over several days.[/ezcol_1half_end]

[ezcol_1half]Dried Book Showing a Little Edge Curl[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]The book is now dry but does show some evidence that it had been wet. If the book in question had been a book of value to me, I would have put the book in a zip-lock bag, stuck it in the freezer, and later taken it to a conservator.[/ezcol_1half_end]