Essays, Letters and Poems 1781, vol 6

I feel like I am making good progress with this book and it will soon be finished – best not speak too soon, but it is amazing the detail that goes into the conservation of a book. I suppose once you have done something once, it does then get quicker, but at the moment, this particular book feels like it is going at a snails pace.

With the spine piece dyed as mentioned in my last post, I then moved on to preparing the book for the repacking. This meant creating small splits at the edges of the boards at head and tail, back and front, inside and out – leaving very small pieces of leather on the edges of the board which had to be paired, which should be seen in the photo below. This was to allow the new leather to go underneath the existing leather and over the boards for the backing. The tiny fingers of leather on the edges can then be put down again to keep as much as the original leather in place.

Lifting the corners of the boards
The little foot lifting off the edge of the board

Once the edges were lifted, I pasted the joints to allow the adhesive to soak in prior to lining the spine. At the same time I pasted up the leather. To do this the leather must first be wetted on the hair side and allowed to soak in, it is then pasted on the flesh side and folded in half to keep the moisture in. I then wrapped mine in cling film as our studio is very dry.

Pasting up the shoulders
Pasting up the leather

Once this is done, the spine piece then goes onto the spine and is strongly pressed down onto the spine and shoulders, it is imperative that the spine piece is in the right place at this point as it cannot be moved later. This is where I had a problem as the spine piece was squewhiff when I put it down, so one side was a lot longer than the other, meaning that I now have to trim it when dry to ensure the edges of the original leather go down correctly.

Lining the spine
Pressing the joints

Once the spine and edges are down, the book is taken out of the press and prepare for the end caps. One edge of the spine is folded back on itself and the book placed on end to work on the opposite end cap.

Standing the book on end to do the end caps

Following this the boards are spread to give access to the end caps, and the leather is then folded underneath itself and under the leather on the boards.

Folding in the end bands

It is important that the leather is worked onto the boards evenly, so that will be seen as little as possible. The leather encasing the end bands should be just to the height of the end bands, if not, fractionally higher. The book is then placed upside down and the end cap on the bench, knocked up with a bone folder to give it shape, and the second end cap done. Once both are done, thread is wrapped around the book to produce the shoulders, which should also be worked with a bone folder, so that they are in line with the boards.

Working the end caps

Cookery in Colour | Cleaning old book cloth

Cleaning book cloth has been part of this very busy week! In addition to working on my Essay book, both my Prayer book AND my Cooking in Colour book have seen action this week – it has been a super productive week on my part – along with setting up a studio – could a person fit more in a week I wonder? We will see!

So Cooking in Colour had a well timed resurgence this week with the work on tape removal, as you may recall the book was initially covered in brown packing tape. Well this has now all been removed and the tackiness and stain gone as well. Though technically not in keeping with conservation, I found that IMS cleaned up the cover of the book exceedingly well, so the cover is now showing a lot more blue and a lot less dirt. Arguably the dirt is part of the history of the book and should maybe be kept – but it’s my book and I’ll clean it if I want to! (tra la la laaa)

The Common Book of Prayer was also not left out this week either, as I have now got both end bands stuck down, the excess paper removed and the first loose section secured. All that is left now is for me to practice my Japanese tissue board attachments and it’s done. That will mean more toning, so may take me a couple of hours.

The common book having its first section stuck down

Essays, Letters and Poems 1781, vol 5

So I am back to my Essays book this week which is exciting! I have to admit that I have been a bit nervous about the next few stages of conservation on this one, as I am venturing into unknown territory. However the book belongs to my tutor and come from a charity shop, so I take comfort in the fact that if I completely destroy it, its not the end of the world!

So the next two stages are toning my leather spine piece and repacking the book. After that it will be retouching little bits to make it look amazing! Unfortunately yesterday I had plucked up the courage to dye my leather spine piece that I pared for a whole DAY last term only to find a much better matching piece of calf – so guess what today is – yup, leather pairing again. Dammit.

Anyway, I did manage to practice the toning yesterday and get the right colour, so at least I will be ready to tone next week. If not today if I am super quick!

Bits of toned leather

So I thought I would just update this post with the actual dye ratios – more for my future reference!

Batch 1 – key colour
4 – yellow
1 – brown
25 – water

Batch 2 – touch up colour
3 x yellow
1 x brown
1 x red
50 x water

Tinofix
1 x tinofix
17 x water

Paper washing and bleaching, vol 2

The second part of my washing and bleaching post is more about the bleaching part. As mentioned in the previous post, this is rarely done in conservation as it is thought to damage the structure of the paper fibres and will continue to disintegrate the object if not denatured properly. As before we were also measuring the experiments as we went to see the difference in paper weights as they were cleaned.

Sodium Dythonite (EDTA), Hydrogen Peroxide, Calcium Hypochlorite

There were three forms of bleaching we used in this session – Sodium Dythonite, Calcium Hypochlorite and Hydrogen Peroxide.

Spot testing the different bleaches

Sodium Dythonite at pH8
Conservators will us Sodium Dythonite to a certain extent, and will often prefer this solution, however it is often not removed totally and can leave a residue in the object. Similarly to this, conservators will often reuse this solution on the same spot many time over in order to remove a stain, however this repetitive use of the solution can be much more damaging than using a stronger one, such as Calcium Hypochlorite, to begin with and ensuring it is removed in full.

20g of Sodium Dythonite into EDTA (unknown amount)
Adjust the pH with Sodium Hydroxide until pH 8 is reached
This required a large amount of Sodium Hydroxide, possibly as the strength of the latter and the amount of EDTA was unknown.

Calcium Hypochlorite at pH9 (bleach of choice)
This solution often has a bad name, though we have been told it does not diserve such a reputation. It is argued that chlorine may be left in the object after de-naturing it (washing through with water). This is chemically suspicious as chlorine is linked to calcium and the molecules are strong and generally stay together. Once the calcium is removed, the chlorine will have nothing to attach to and should come off as a gas.

200ml of 4% Calcium Hypochlorite into 600ml of water
Intial testing of pH showed it at pH10.5
10% Acetic Acid was added to bring the pH down to 9

Hydrogen Peroxide at pH9
When it is used on objects, it will bleach as it drys due to unstable H2O2 molecules, which will release the spare O as a gas, denaturing itself in the process. However a conference in Vienna argued that this did not always occur and peroxide was left in the paper causing continual damage, it is therefore no longer used.

3ml of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide into 23ml of demonised water
The pH is altered using Ammonia to reach pH9
This should bring the amount up to 30ml

We then used each of these bleaches, mostly the Calcium Hypochlorite, and tested methods of cleaning. Everything was done on the vacuum table, having first humidified the object, and thoroughly washing it throughout. We used small amounts on a brush to target small stains such as foxing, and also spraying specific areas by masking the object with melinex.

Calcium Hypochlorite used on a masked out area

Half and half on the same sheet (using bleach of choice)

In the case of immersion, the whole page was put in a bath of Calcium Hypochlorite and then washed in water and left to dry.

Immersion into a bath of 4% Calcium Hypochlorite

Before immersion

After immersion


Essays, Letters and Poems 1781, vol 4

Well I’m getting there – I’m not convinced I will finish this book before Christmas given that I’m off next week, but we will see how I do on Thursday and Friday. I’ll need to tone and pair my spine piece and then attach it – bit nerve wracking…

Anyhow – last week was fairly successful – I did in fact manage to attach my boards, using a method of board slotting, as previously planned. First of all, I had to slice through the edge of the board to create a space for the aerocottong to slot into. This was primarily done with a sharp scalpel and then retraced with a cobblers knife to get the width.

The slot made in the edge of the board with scalpel and cobblers knife

Once the board was slotted, the aerocotton on the spine was pasted out and pushed into the hole. Both this and the board slotting create a thicker board edge than would have previously been present, hence it is important to put the book in the press to set well and to the correct thickness. It is primarily nipped for about five minutes, checked for movement, and then left for much longer. I was able to leave mine in the press overnight as I completed it at the end of the day.

Melinex used to protect the text block whilst pasting the aerocotton

The aerocotton slotted into the board edge

In the press

The following day gave me two well attached boards, which was a happy moment! Next I moved onto lifting the edge of the boards in preparations of the leather reback. This was done by first lining the leather with Tengujo 5gsm and Cellugel, to adhere it and prevent the leather darkening. This tissue prevents any loss of friable leather pieces that may have been dislodged during the lifting.

The result - a nice strong attachment

Lifting the edge of the board in preparation for the leather reback

 

 

Essays, Letters and Poems 1781, vol 3

Having pasted down the cords in vol 2 of this book, I was now ready to line the spine and move onto the next step. Lining the spine was done with a layer of japanese tissue, which was quite a thick Kozo Shu 23gsm. Once dried aerocotton went on top, this was slighting wider than the spine either side, as the excess will be used for the board slotting and attaching. Both the tissue and the aerocotton had to avoid the cords, as can be seen in the photo, as they do not mould well over the cords and would cause problems when rebacking.

20111128-001320.jpg

20111128-001607.jpg

Whilst this was drying, I was able to move on to the endbands. Having found some old remnants of what had once been, I was able to determine that the end bands had been a dusty red and dirty white at one point, so went about dyeing some thread to what I thought would be an appropriate colour. This was done with a thin thread, the endband core I made up from a thin piece of cord wrapped in japanese tissue for strength and evenness, these cores can be seen in the pictures below. Once the therad was dyed I went about sewing on the end bands. Given the instability of the text block due to the two initially loose cords, I only tied down four times on the text block, this prevented too much disturbance of the text block and was still strong enough to keep the end bands stable. I also pasted a piece of japanese tissue over the back of the end bands and onto the spine for added strength.

20111128-001518.jpg

20111128-001745.jpg

All in all they came out pretty well and I’m quite chuffed. Endbands are not necessarily always re-sewn as there is an argument it is more restoration rather than conservation, and they are not necessary for the stabilitiy of the book. If not sewn, they can be made from toned tissue on cord. Though I think mine look quite nice, and it is nice to do them in the same way they once might have been.