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The American Library Association annual conference concluded in early July and while at the conference I gave a presentation to the Book and Paper Interest Group of the Preservation and Reformatting Section of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services. The theme was "Space Oddity" and the presentation had to be given in an Ignite Talk style, in our case 15 slides at 20 seconds each for a total of 5 minutes.

What follows are the slides and my comments for each.

Canes of Dartmouth College
1800-2008






This storage solution for Dartmouth's collection of canes was created by North Bennet Street School summer interns, Becky Koch and Laren Schott, with oversight from Deborah Howe, the Collections Conservator.












The problem was how to store these wooden canes. The bulk of the collection were canes hand carved by Dartmouth students during their senior year. The most common embellishment of the cane head is what is know as the "Indian Head Cane".


Here Deborah and the interns are arranging the canes by size.

Prior to this treatment the canes were stored in a type of umbrella stand with open sides and very little protection. The canes were not stable and would slip and slide within the stand. The enclosure solution used both pre-made boxes and custom fit inserts. To begin, the canes were sorted by size. Most of the canes were a standard length. 




The canes were surfaced cleaned prior to rehousing them. To surface clean them our interns took dry and sometimes slightly moistened (with water) cotton swabs and wiped away soot and dust. No repairs were necessary. All of the canes were in generally good shape.




The housing solution consisted of adapting a pre-made box to hold an insert tray, and thus created two layers for storage: a bottom layer and the insert tray forming the second layer.

Pre-made box.
The pre-made box was purchased from Gaylord. It was made of polypropylene measuring 
38 inches x 24 inches, and about 6 inches deep.


Using heavy, natural cotton webbing, handles for the pre-made box were created and reinforded with Vyvek to help support the weight. The Vyvek is shown inside the box, where the cloth webbing is threaded through. Deborah suggests that in the next iteration of this box she would improve it by adding support stops for the insert tray to the pre-made box.



The insert tray was fabricated from 2 pieces of blue, acid free corrugated board. Adaptations were made because a single sheet was not large enough to build the walls up.

     





For the insert box special attention was also paid in building handles that could withstand the weight of the canes. To do this the cotton webbing was threaded through the bottom of the tray that had been reinforced with a layer of 40pt board for extra support.
                       































In order to separate the canes from each other dividers were made from 10 point map folder stock. The folder stock was creased and folded to create a pocket. Each pocket was about 2 inches deep and 3 inches wide. Two pieces of folder stock were needed to create each divider layer.


To construct the dividers score lines were determined and a pattern was made from a strip of paper. These marks were transferred to the 10 point folder stock.


Both short edges of the 10 point were marked, then the pencil marks were lined up on the edge of the table. The 10 point was creased cross grain to maximize length and to improve rigidity in the walls of the dividers. Because of the length creasing on the board shear was not possible.



The dividers were placed on both the bottom layer and the insert tray. They were not attached in any way – although they could be if desired. Deborah suggests sliding in 40 point strips inside the divider walls to give additional support and rigidity.






With the dividers in place the canes were arranged on each layer and the insert tray placed on top. Each box can hold 16 canes: 2 layers of 8 canes each. When each box set was constructed it was bar coded and labeled with the archival series number.


Bottom layer with canes.



























Insert layer in the box with divider and canes.


There were also canes of irregular size: longer than the rest or with heads that made it difficult to apply a standard approach. For these canes the divider was placed diagonally in the box and the canes arranged accordingly.




By the end of the project over 100 canes were cleaned and stored in 8 custom boxes for 24 linear feet, and shelved in the Special Collections remote storage facility. A finding aid for the cane collection now lists the canes by individual box number thus improving not only the storage but also making it easier to retrieve a single cane. By this single conservation treatment both storage and retrieval have been improved.



Thanks to Deborah Howe for collaborating with me to create this Ignite Talk and to Becky Koch and Lauren Schott who designed this storage solution.



Written by Barb Sagraves

The American Library Association annual conference concluded in early July and while at the conference I gave a presentation to the Book and Paper Interest Group of the Preservation and Reformatting Section of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services. The theme was "Space Oddity" and the presentation had to be given in an Ignite Talk style, in our case 15 slides at 20 seconds each for a total of 5 minutes.

What follows are the slides and my comments for each.

Canes of Dartmouth College
1800-2008

This storage solution for Dartmouth's collection of canes was created by North Bennet Street School summer interns, Becky Koch and Laren Schott, with oversight from Deborah Howe, the Collections Conservator.


The problem was how to store these wooden canes. The bulk of the collection were canes hand carved by Dartmouth students during their senior year. The most common embellishment of the cane head is what is know as the "Indian Head Cane".
Here Deborah and the interns are arranging the canes by size.

Prior to this treatment the canes were stored in a type of umbrella stand with open sides and very little protection. The canes were not stable and would slip and slide within the stand. The enclosure solution used both pre-made boxes and custom fit inserts. To begin, the canes were sorted by size. Most of the canes were a standard length. 

The canes were surfaced cleaned prior to rehousing them. To surface clean them our interns took dry and sometimes slightly moistened (with water) cotton swabs and wiped away soot and dust. No repairs were necessary. All of the canes were in generally good shape.

The housing solution consisted of adapting a pre-made box to hold an insert tray, and thus created two layers for storage: a bottom layer and the insert tray forming the second layer.

Pre-made box.
The pre-made box was purchased from Gaylord. It was made of polypropylene measuring 
38 inches x 24 inches, and about 6 inches deep.
Using heavy, natural cotton webbing, handles for the pre-made box were created and reinforded with Vyvek to help support the weight. The Vyvek is shown inside the box, where the cloth webbing is threaded through. Deborah suggests that in the next iteration of this box she would improve it by adding support stops for the insert tray to the pre-made box.

The insert tray was fabricated from 2 pieces of blue, acid free corrugated board. Adaptations were made because a single sheet was not large enough to build the walls up.

     

For the insert box special attention was also paid in building handles that could withstand the weight of the canes. To do this the cotton webbing was threaded through the bottom of the tray that had been reinforced with a layer of 40pt board for extra support.
                       

In order to separate the canes from each other dividers were made from 10 point map folder stock. The folder stock was creased and folded to create a pocket. Each pocket was about 2 inches deep and 3 inches wide. Two pieces of folder stock were needed to create each divider layer.

To construct the dividers score lines were determined and a pattern was made from a strip of paper. These marks were transferred to the 10 point folder stock.

Both short edges of the 10 point were marked, then the pencil marks were lined up on the edge of the table. The 10 point was creased cross grain to maximize length and to improve rigidity in the walls of the dividers. Because of the length creasing on the board shear was not possible.

The dividers were placed on both the bottom layer and the insert tray. They were not attached in any way – although they could be if desired. Deborah suggests sliding in 40 point strips inside the divider walls to give additional support and rigidity.

With the dividers in place the canes were arranged on each layer and the insert tray placed on top. Each box can hold 16 canes: 2 layers of 8 canes each. When each box set was constructed it was bar coded and labeled with the archival series number.
Bottom layer with canes.

Insert layer in the box with divider and canes.
There were also canes of irregular size: longer than the rest or with heads that made it difficult to apply a standard approach. For these canes the divider was placed diagonally in the box and the canes arranged accordingly.

By the end of the project over 100 canes were cleaned and stored in 8 custom boxes for 24 linear feet, and shelved in the Special Collections remote storage facility. A finding aid for the cane collection now lists the canes by individual box number thus improving not only the storage but also making it easier to retrieve a single cane. By this single conservation treatment both storage and retrieval have been improved.

Thanks to Deborah Howe for collaborating with me to create this Ignite Talk and to Becky Koch and Lauren Schott who designed this storage solution.

Written by Barb Sagraves

This spring a scrapbook compiled by the Dartmouth Educational Association came in for some minimal repairs. This archival volume is a bound book with numbered pages. It holds a collection of loose items that have been added to the book over time. Scrapbook compilers have not always given consideration to the long-term effects of their methods, often choosing materials they have on hand. That’s likely the case with this volume, because only one of the methods (paper clip) doesn’t alter the item. Its contents, though, are in pretty good shape. Despite its overfilled pages, the book needed little more than a spine repair. I thought I would highlight some of the attachment methods used in this volume, concerns about their use, as well as share some tips for attaching loose items to pages with an eye toward longer-term preservation of those items.

Paper Clips and Brads:


On this page, both a paper clip (the triangular silver metal piece) and a brad (the brass-colored item) have been used. Both are made of metal, which can be prone to rust over time in certain environmental conditions. (Though no rust was found here.) The brad also requires a hole in both the item and the page in which to place the flanges. Modern paper clips are available in plastic or coated metal that should not rust. Be careful of causing creases in the paper if using paper clips, and choose the proper size to accommodate the thickness of the papers.

Eyelets:


Interestingly, eyelets were used in this album. I imagine they were attached using an eyelet setter like this classic Bates Eyeleter. This method requires a hole in both the page and the item attached, similar to the brad attachment. Even without moisture to create rust, it’s possible for metal to discolor or damage the paper on a facing page as a result of friction or pressure.

Staples:

 

Some of the items were stapled onto the pages. Staples create holes in the item as well as the pages and can be hard to remove without causing damage to both. They are also made of metal and therefore can rust in a humid environment.

Adhesive: Paste or Glue


It’s hard to tell whether this card was attached with paste or glue. Adhesives are a pretty permanent method of attachment. Some pastes (as opposed to glues) are often reversible, however they can leave evidence of their use.

The items that were attached to these pages used some kind of permanent alteration to the item itself (application of adhesive or holes in the paper) except for the paper clip. When considering which attachment method to use in a similar type of album these days, here are a few other options that do not require applying glue to or piercing holes into the item, though they require glue or holes in the album page itself.

Slits and slots:  


To mount a photograph or other flat item onto a book page, make cuts in the base paper (a slit) or remove a narrow slice of paper (a slot) for thicker material. By locating these cuts diagonally at the four corners, the item can be slipped in and will stay without any adhesive.

Photo corners:


Photo corners come in a variety of styles: self-adhesive, gummed, clear, black or white paper, and they can easily be made by hand. Look for ones that pass the P.A.T. test (photo activity test) or have archival qualities, such as being made from acid-free materials. To make your own corners take a thin strip of acid-free paper (about 1/4-inch), at the center of the strip fold one side up at a 45-degree angle.


Then fold the other side up to meet and match the first side. Now you have a corner. Vary the thickness of the paper strip to change the size of the corner for larger or smaller photos. Once the corner is created, use acid-free tape or adhesive to attach to the mounting page or board. These can be used for other flat items as well as photographs.

A simple way of positioning the corners is to use the photo (or a facsimile of the photo of identical size and thickness) as a placeholder. Determine the location of the photo on the page and place a clean weight on top of it to hold in place. Next slip the four corners onto the photo. Then remove one corner, add or activate the adhesive and place back onto the photo and press down to attach to the page. Then do the same to the corner diagonally opposite the first corner. This will stabilize the photo. Continue with the remaining two corners and remove the weight when done.

Pockets & Envelopes:

Pockets or envelopes (choose ones made of acid-free materials) are a great way to add loose items to a page. They can be handmade or purchased and can be paper or clear Mylar. Mylar allows a view of the item without removing it. Use an acid-free adhesive (like glue or double-sided tape) to attach pockets and envelopes to the page.

With all these methods remember to accommodate the thickness of the items added to a bound volume by balancing the binding edge thickness with the foredge thickness to avoid the foredge splaying out and the book not closing. For just a few items this shouldn’t be a problem.

In my next post, on August 19th,  I’ll explore attachment methods more suited to a creative or book arts application.

Written by Stephanie Wolff

This spring a scrapbook compiled by the Dartmouth Educational Association came in for some minimal repairs. This archival volume is a bound book with numbered pages. It holds a collection of loose items that have been added to the book over time. Scrapbook compilers have not always given consideration to the long-term effects of their methods, often choosing materials they have on hand. That’s likely the case with this volume, because only one of the methods (paper clip) doesn’t alter the item. Its contents, though, are in pretty good shape. Despite its overfilled pages, the book needed little more than a spine repair. I thought I would highlight some of the attachment methods used in this volume, concerns about their use, as well as share some tips for attaching loose items to pages with an eye toward longer-term preservation of those items.

Paper Clips and Brads:

On this page, both a paper clip (the triangular silver metal piece) and a brad (the brass-colored item) have been used. Both are made of metal, which can be prone to rust over time in certain environmental conditions. (Though no rust was found here.) The brad also requires a hole in both the item and the page in which to place the flanges. Modern paper clips are available in plastic or coated metal that should not rust. Be careful of causing creases in the paper if using paper clips, and choose the proper size to accommodate the thickness of the papers.

Eyelets:

Interestingly, eyelets were used in this album. I imagine they were attached using an eyelet setter like this classic Bates Eyeleter. This method requires a hole in both the page and the item attached, similar to the brad attachment. Even without moisture to create rust, it’s possible for metal to discolor or damage the paper on a facing page as a result of friction or pressure.
Staples:

 

Some of the items were stapled onto the pages. Staples create holes in the item as well as the pages and can be hard to remove without causing damage to both. They are also made of metal and therefore can rust in a humid environment.

Adhesive: Paste or Glue

It’s hard to tell whether this card was attached with paste or glue. Adhesives are a pretty permanent method of attachment. Some pastes (as opposed to glues) are often reversible, however they can leave evidence of their use.
The items that were attached to these pages used some kind of permanent alteration to the item itself (application of adhesive or holes in the paper) except for the paper clip. When considering which attachment method to use in a similar type of album these days, here are a few other options that do not require applying glue to or piercing holes into the item, though they require glue or holes in the album page itself.

Slits and slots:  

To mount a photograph or other flat item onto a book page, make cuts in the base paper (a slit) or remove a narrow slice of paper (a slot) for thicker material. By locating these cuts diagonally at the four corners, the item can be slipped in and will stay without any adhesive.

Photo corners:

Photo corners come in a variety of styles: self-adhesive, gummed, clear, black or white paper, and they can easily be made by hand. Look for ones that pass the P.A.T. test (photo activity test) or have archival qualities, such as being made from acid-free materials. To make your own corners take a thin strip of acid-free paper (about 1/4-inch), at the center of the strip fold one side up at a 45-degree angle.

Then fold the other side up to meet and match the first side. Now you have a corner. Vary the thickness of the paper strip to change the size of the corner for larger or smaller photos. Once the corner is created, use acid-free tape or adhesive to attach to the mounting page or board. These can be used for other flat items as well as photographs.

A simple way of positioning the corners is to use the photo (or a facsimile of the photo of identical size and thickness) as a placeholder. Determine the location of the photo on the page and place a clean weight on top of it to hold in place. Next slip the four corners onto the photo. Then remove one corner, add or activate the adhesive and place back onto the photo and press down to attach to the page. Then do the same to the corner diagonally opposite the first corner. This will stabilize the photo. Continue with the remaining two corners and remove the weight when done.
Pockets & Envelopes:

Pockets or envelopes (choose ones made of acid-free materials) are a great way to add loose items to a page. They can be handmade or purchased and can be paper or clear Mylar. Mylar allows a view of the item without removing it. Use an acid-free adhesive (like glue or double-sided tape) to attach pockets and envelopes to the page.

With all these methods remember to accommodate the thickness of the items added to a bound volume by balancing the binding edge thickness with the foredge thickness to avoid the foredge splaying out and the book not closing. For just a few items this shouldn’t be a problem.
In my next post, on August 19th,  I’ll explore attachment methods more suited to a creative or book arts application.

Written by Stephanie Wolff

One of the most interesting items I’ve worked on is our copy of:

Essai d'anatomie, en tableaux imprimé , qui représentent au naturel tous les muscles de la face, du col, de la tête, de la langue et du larinx; d'après les parties disséquées et préparées, par Duverney, comprenent huit grandes planches, dessinées, peintes, gravées et imprimées en couleur et grandeur naturelles, par Gautier, avec des tables qui expliquent les planches
Paris, Gautier, 1745; call number: Rare Book QM 535 .G377

A title as long as the book is large!

Below is one of the more well-known images, sometimes referred to as the flayed angle.
(Rauner Blog Post  and info on Gautier.)
Anatomy volumes as this were used for teaching, thus their large size, so students could see them while dissecting cadavers. In fact while working on this volume there were stains that I would identify as blood stains. The problem with this volume was that it had been rebound perhaps in the late 50’s or early 60’s and had been over sewn, so that the pages didn’t open flat and the foldout illustrations were difficult to view. So the first task at hand was to “dissect” it.





Because of the large size, I jerry rigged a press out of boards and c-clamps in order to clean the spine. Once the old adhesive was removed I was able to get at the pages and separate them


 section by section.


Here you can see the evidence of the over sewing.


I then proceeded to mend the folds with a strong japanese tissue. 
Here, half of the pages are finished being mended.


Once the folds were mended it was time to sew. This was a bit tricky but with the aid of a support this went smoothly. I decided to sew the signatures onto frayed cords, which could be used later to reattach the cover.


Inside support to hold open the folio.

The endsheets from the earlier binding were machine made and very acidic, 
so I made some beautiful new endsheets from the Delphi paper made 
at Twin Rocker in Brookston, Indiana. The weight and 
color were perfect and I created


a split board style to help reattach the covers.


The covers were still in good condition and thick so all I did was remove the old paper paste downs. There was a natural split in the boards at the hinge edge, so I utilized this to my advantage to insert the tabs from the endsheets.



Once again I had to devise a plan for pressing the attachment of the 
boards as the book couldn’t go into a press due 
to the various sizes of plates and text.



Luckily I had a carpenter friend who provided me with some thick planks which I could put a lot of pressure on with the c-clamps. This was needed to insure that the tabs and split were well adhered. Once the boards were firmly in place I pasted down the interior hinge onto the covers and then a deblure.



Opening of the book with attached boards but before the spine is reattached.



Included in this volume is a life size figure that has a tri-fold. This plate was very damaged with one of the sections completely detached (split at the knees). I reconstituted the fold out with a laminate of linen and japanese tissue and did some minor in-filling with japanese tissue and
added slight bit of color touch up but not much.



Verso of repair.


Because this was such a large plate and quite dynamic I designed a tab and slotted hinge so
that it could be removed when needed for easier viewing. This was somewhat successful
but it is a bit tricky to attach and remove
Tab and slot.


The spine material is a heavy canvas colored with acrylic to match the original leather. Inserts of cord were placed that the head and tail of the turn-ins for extra support and an aesthetic touch.
Finished volume.


My new friend!

Written by Deborah Howe








One of the most interesting items I’ve worked on is our copy of:

Essai d'anatomie, en tableaux imprimé, qui représentent au naturel tous les muscles de la face, du col, de la tête, de la langue et du larinx; d'après les parties disséquées et préparées, par Duverney, comprenent huit grandes planches, dessinées, peintes, gravées et imprimées en couleur et grandeur naturelles, par Gautier, avec des tables qui expliquent les planches
Paris, Gautier, 1745; call number: Rare Book QM 535 .G377

A title as long as the book is large!

Below is one of the more well-known images, sometimes referred to as the flayed angel.
(Rauner Blog Post  and info on Gautier.)
Anatomy volumes as this were used for teaching, thus their large size, so students could see them while dissecting cadavers. In fact while working on this volume there were stains that I would identify as blood stains. The problem with this volume was that it had been rebound perhaps in the late 50’s or early 60’s and had been over sewn, so that the pages didn’t open flat and the foldout illustrations were difficult to view. So the first task at hand was to “dissect” it.


Because of the large size, I jerry rigged a press out of boards and c-clamps in order to clean the spine. Once the old adhesive was removed I was able to get at the pages and separate them
 section by section.
Here you can see the evidence of the over sewing.

I then proceeded to mend the folds with a strong japanese tissue. 
Here, half of the pages are finished being mended.
Once the folds were mended it was time to sew. This was a bit tricky but with the aid of a support this went smoothly. I decided to sew the signatures onto frayed cords, which could be used later to reattach the cover.
Inside support to hold open the folio.
The endsheets from the earlier binding were machine made and very acidic, 
so I made some beautiful new endsheets from the Delphi paper made 
at Twin Rocker in Brookston, Indiana. The weight and 
color were perfect and I created
a split board style to help reattach the covers.
The covers were still in good condition and thick so all I did was remove the old paper paste downs. There was a natural split in the boards at the hinge edge, so I utilized this to my advantage to insert the tabs from the endsheets.
Once again I had to devise a plan for pressing the attachment of the 
boards as the book couldn’t go into a press due 
to the various sizes of plates and text.

Luckily I had a carpenter friend who provided me with some thick planks which I could put a lot of pressure on with the c-clamps. This was needed to insure that the tabs and split were well adhered. Once the boards were firmly in place I pasted down the interior hinge onto the covers and then a deblure.
Opening of the book with attached boards but before the spine is reattached.

Included in this volume is a life size figure that has a tri-fold. This plate was very damaged with one of the sections completely detached (split at the knees). I reconstituted the fold out with a laminate of linen and japanese tissue and did some minor in-filling with japanese tissue and
added slight bit of color touch up but not much.

Verso of repair.
Because this was such a large plate and quite dynamic I designed a tab and slotted hinge so
that it could be removed when needed for easier viewing. This was somewhat successful
but it is a bit tricky to attach and remove
Tab and slot.

The spine material is a heavy canvas colored with acrylic to match the original leather. Inserts of cord were placed that the head and tail of the turn-ins for extra support and an aesthetic touch.
Finished volume.
My new friend!

Written by Deborah Howe

Preservation Services is closed from December 23 until January 2.   At this festive time of year we like to remember our favorite holiday hero, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and how the work of a plucky conservation intern saved the scrapbo...

Preservation Services is closed from December 23 until January 2.   At this festive time of year we like to remember our favorite holiday hero, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and how the work of a plucky conservation intern saved the scrapbook of "Rudolph's father and Montgomery Ward's authority on deer."

We recently hosted Renate Mesmer, Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library, for a workshop on The Use of the Suction Table in Book and Paper Conservation. Co-sponsored by the Dartmouth College Library Preservation Services and The New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers we spent two full days watching demonstrations and trying our hands at flattening, stain reduction, pulpfilling, washing and drying of paper, and paper repairs. Renate provided packets of handouts elaborating on the techniques, and her slide presentation reinforced the concepts with clear diagrams and explanations about the microscopic effects of water on paper. One reference that will be very useful is the book Paper and Water by Irene Brueckle and Gerhard Banik.

The suction table is a new piece of equipment in our lab and will be a very useful tool.


We covered many ways to use a suction table during the workshop, including making paper for repairs. Why make your own paper? Sometimes an item has a lost corner for example. You can attempt to find a match of an appropriate weight and color from your stock of commercial Western handmade papers, or decide to use an Asian paper, but another option is to cast your own paper. This way you can alter the color and weight to match your item. Renate covered a number of ways to do this using the suction table, and one way that uses very little equipment. Since not every conservator has access to a suction table I thought I would explain the basic method of this low-tech papermaking technique.

First take Western handmade paper scraps and tear them up. Soak them overnight in water. I thought I would separate them into their four tones so I could vary the color when making the sheets.


Then take each batch of soaked paper and beat them up in a regular kitchen-style blender.


Once they have been well blended you have a slurry. You want to make sure the slurry is fine enough to eliminate the possibility of lumps in your paper.


Now set up your papermaking station. You will need:

• two large thick sponges (if they are new, make sure you rinse them thoroughly to get out any soap 
or other deposits)

•  a set of two containers the same size (one to hold the pulp, the other will become a tube to be the “mold & deckle”). Plastic containers work well for this. The size of the opening is the size of your paper piece, so they must be smaller than your sponge. Cut off the bottom on one of the containers so you have a tube.

• 2 pieces of Remay cut slightly bigger than your sponge.



Once you have your pulp slurry ready, it is time to make a sample piece. Measure out a specific amount (such as a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc.) and make a note of this. Place it into the plastic container (the one with the bottom) and add water up to the top. Stir this up so the slurry is dispersed.


Pre-wet sponges and wring them out. Wet the Remay also. Then take your two sponges and pile them on top of each other, then the Remay, and then your other plastic container tube on the very top.


With one hand push down compressing the sponges, with the other pour the slurry into the tube. Now holding the tube with both hands slowly release the pressure on the tube, allowing the sponges to release to their regular thickness. Do this slowly.




The water will seep out the bottom as the pulp is drawn down onto the Remay. Soon the water will be all gone and the pulp will be distributed on the Remay forming a petitesheet of paper. Now carefully remove the plastic tube.






Take the second sheet of Remay and cover the newly formed paper. You can flatten it through the Remay with a wide bone folder if desired.  Press between blotters and dry.




Once you have dried the sample, you have a basis to figure out the thickness and color of paper you can make with that slurry. In other words, that particular amount of slurry (whether a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc.) using that particular plastic form will create the thickness and color of that sample you made. By keeping careful notes you should be able to alter the recipe to adjust these variables to make new paper that closely matches the item in need of repair. Consider weighing the paper pieces or measuring the square inches of the paper that goes into the original slurry mixture and noting down the amount of water in the original slurry mixture. Do not alter the main slurry batch once you have made your sample. Change the amount of slurry you add to each sheet’s formation to alter the thickness of the sheet. To change color change proportions of the various colors of pulp added to each sheet’s formation.

If you prefer you can make a variety of paper pieces to have in stock for future repairs, rather than making paper for a specific repair.


One other option for this kind of paper casting includes masking off areas of the Remay under the tube to fit specific areas of loss. Instead of tearing a paper to fit an edge, you can make a piece of paper with the edge formed to fit the missing edge. To do this copy the edge you want onto Mylar and cut that and a matching piece of Remay. Place the formed edge of the Mylar/Remay within the boundaries of the plastic tube, extending these pieces out from under the tube. (By cutting these oversized to stick out under the tube they stay in place.) Continue to make the paper as usual. Once the paper piece is dry, the Remay and Mylar can be pulled away leaving an edge that fits into area that’s missing from the original.


Once these paper pieces are made, they can be attached using conventional practices, such as with wheat starch paste.


The sponge in this technique stands in for the action of the suction table. With or without a suction table, the idea of casting your own paper for repairs and losses is a nice option to have in my toolbox of techniques. Thanks Renate!

Written by Stephanine Wolff 

We recently hosted Renate Mesmer, Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library, for a workshop on The Use of the Suction Table in Book and Paper Conservation. Co-sponsored by the Dartmouth College Library Preservation Services and The New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers we spent two full days watching demonstrations and trying our hands at flattening, stain reduction, pulpfilling, washing and drying of paper, and paper repairs. Renate provided packets of handouts elaborating on the techniques, and her slide presentation reinforced the concepts with clear diagrams and explanations about the microscopic effects of water on paper. One reference that will be very useful is the book Paper and Water by Irene Brueckle and Gerhard Banik.
The suction table is a new piece of equipment in our lab and will be a very useful tool.

We covered many ways to use a suction table during the workshop, including making paper for repairs. Why make your own paper? Sometimes an item has a lost corner for example. You can attempt to find a match of an appropriate weight and color from your stock of commercial Western handmade papers, or decide to use an Asian paper, but another option is to cast your own paper. This way you can alter the color and weight to match your item. Renate covered a number of ways to do this using the suction table, and one way that uses very little equipment. Since not every conservator has access to a suction table I thought I would explain the basic method of this low-tech papermaking technique.
First take Western handmade paper scraps and tear them up. Soak them overnight in water. I thought I would separate them into their four tones so I could vary the color when making the sheets.
Then take each batch of soaked paper and beat them up in a regular kitchen-style blender.
Once they have been well blended you have a slurry. You want to make sure the slurry is fine enough to eliminate the possibility of lumps in your paper.
Now set up your papermaking station. You will need:
• two large thick sponges (if they are new, make sure you rinse them thoroughly to get out any soap 
or other deposits)
•  a set of two containers the same size (one to hold the pulp, the other will become a tube to be the “mold & deckle”). Plastic containers work well for this. The size of the opening is the size of your paper piece, so they must be smaller than your sponge. Cut off the bottom on one of the containers so you have a tube.
• 2 pieces of Remay cut slightly bigger than your sponge.
Once you have your pulp slurry ready, it is time to make a sample piece. Measure out a specific amount (such as a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc.) and make a note of this. Place it into the plastic container (the one with the bottom) and add water up to the top. Stir this up so the slurry is dispersed.

Pre-wet sponges and wring them out. Wet the Remay also. Then take your two sponges and pile them on top of each other, then the Remay, and then your other plastic container tube on the very top.

With one hand push down compressing the sponges, with the other pour the slurry into the tube. Now holding the tube with both hands slowly release the pressure on the tube, allowing the sponges to release to their regular thickness. Do this slowly.

The water will seep out the bottom as the pulp is drawn down onto the Remay. Soon the water will be all gone and the pulp will be distributed on the Remay forming a petitesheet of paper. Now carefully remove the plastic tube.

Take the second sheet of Remay and cover the newly formed paper. You can flatten it through the Remay with a wide bone folder if desired.  Press between blotters and dry.

Once you have dried the sample, you have a basis to figure out the thickness and color of paper you can make with that slurry. In other words, that particular amount of slurry (whether a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc.) using that particular plastic form will create the thickness and color of that sample you made. By keeping careful notes you should be able to alter the recipe to adjust these variables to make new paper that closely matches the item in need of repair. Consider weighing the paper pieces or measuring the square inches of the paper that goes into the original slurry mixture and noting down the amount of water in the original slurry mixture. Do not alter the main slurry batch once you have made your sample. Change the amount of slurry you add to each sheet’s formation to alter the thickness of the sheet. To change color change proportions of the various colors of pulp added to each sheet’s formation.
If you prefer you can make a variety of paper pieces to have in stock for future repairs, rather than making paper for a specific repair.
One other option for this kind of paper casting includes masking off areas of the Remay under the tube to fit specific areas of loss. Instead of tearing a paper to fit an edge, you can make a piece of paper with the edge formed to fit the missing edge. To do this copy the edge you want onto Mylar and cut that and a matching piece of Remay. Place the formed edge of the Mylar/Remay within the boundaries of the plastic tube, extending these pieces out from under the tube. (By cutting these oversized to stick out under the tube they stay in place.) Continue to make the paper as usual. Once the paper piece is dry, the Remay and Mylar can be pulled away leaving an edge that fits into area that’s missing from the original.
Once these paper pieces are made, they can be attached using conventional practices, such as with wheat starch paste.
The sponge in this technique stands in for the action of the suction table. With or without a suction table, the idea of casting your own paper for repairs and losses is a nice option to have in my toolbox of techniques. Thanks Renate!

Written by Stephanie Wolff 

The conservation lab receives items needing treatment in a variety of ways. For general circulating collections we rely on a user based system. The circulation staff is trained to recognize damaged material when the books are returned from the patron. ...

The conservation lab receives items needing treatment in a variety of ways. For general circulating collections we rely on a user based system. The circulation staff is trained to recognize damaged material when the books are returned from the patron. This affords us a wide range of material that comes to us for repair. In any given day we receive the damaged items that are getting checked out within the library system.


Above is the current lineup of material to be repaired. Among the items received for repair this week are the very common 20th and 21st century books needing basic spine repairs. But as you can see we also get older paperbacks and publisher cloth bindings.


Here we have a selection of popular novels along with paperbacks and a quarter leather binding, which we will look at closer later.


We also receive items that we have previously treated, but which have failed. Here is a pamphlet where the sewing has come undone.


Also, it is not unusual to see repairs that have been done by our patrons. Here electrical tape was used to hold the spine together. Little did they know that there is a conservation lab here to take care of these problems.


This book has a pretty spine.


Here is the front of the quarter leather binding.


This has an interesting board attachment. The book is sewn on tapes which are laced into the boards. It is a tight back and has clearly gotten a lot of use.


This is the title page.


This gentleman seems to be having a good time! The book is brittle so it will go through a review process to determine if we still want to keep it in its physical format or migrate the contents to a digital format. The decision is up to the bibliographer of the subject field.

So like any conservation lab receiving a variety of materials, it is always interesting to see what might be on the shelves next!

By Deborah Howe