Some time back in a post earlier in the year, I mentioned that I would potentially be working on a scrapbook from the Museum of Childhood. Well I was lucky enough to be allowed that project to work on as part of my MA final project, along with a recipe scrapbook that I am working on at college.
So I thought I would write an update of the work I have been doing on this second scrapbook, whilst at the V&A. This past week, I have been working on substantial paper repairs for the material that is sticking out of the scrapbook. These are items that, due to their oversize, have been bashed and damaged – so I am repairing them.
It’s quite short and picture heavy, this one, but I will try and post some more soon!
When a board corner is heavily damaged and needs not only consolidation, but rebuilding as well, it is possible to do this with either pulped manilla or paper and effectively remake the board around the corner.
Using a matching repair paper
This method should be used in cases where the board is made from layered papers, pasted together – paste board.
– Find an appropriate matching repair paper to the board, thicker is possibly better.
– Split the board in the middle and insert a large piece of this thicker paper so that it protrudes from the edges, sticking it in place with wheat starch paste.
– Once stuck in place, build up the corner, layer by layer with the matching repair paper. Each piece should exactly match the edge of the board on that particular layer.
– To get an exact match, the edge of the board can be drawn on melinex and then transferred onto the repair paper.
– Eventually the top layer will be reached and the final piece of repair paper should go over the top of the board to secure the corner in place.
– This should then be left to dry between bondina, blotter, board and bulldog clips.
– Once dried, the new corner can be trimmed to match the edge of the board, and sanded to smoothen out.
Using a pulped manilla
This method can be used on a wider range of boards as the pulp will mould into the gaps of the board corners.
– Tear up a thin manilla into small pieces and whizz in a food processor to produce smaller pieces.
– Allow the pieces to soak in hot water for a while, until the bonds between the fibres in the manilla have begun to break down.
– Drain out the water and squeeze until all water is gone. This can now be left to dry and used another day, if not immediately.
– Break off a piece of manilla pulp and rehumidify in hot water for a few minutes.
– Drain off most of the water and chop manilla with a cobblers knife, as it were a herb.
– Squeeze out more of the water and mix the manilla with wheat start paste put aside ready for use.
– Split the board in the middle and insert a large piece of manilla into the split so that it protrudes from the edges, sticking it in place with wheat starch paste.
– Once stuck in place, build up the corner with the pulp and paste. This will have to be done in stages and allowed to dry in-between as the pulp will shrink on drying.
– Ensure the end result is bigger than the board and allow to fully dry.
– One dry, trim the excess and sand the new corner.
– Support the corner with a japanese paper that protrudes over the original board.
Methyl Cellulose is on a par with wheat starch paste in its usefulness to conservators. It is most commonly used as an adhesive, which is both reversible and water soluble, though not as ‘wet’ as wheat starch paste. It can also be used in a poultice form for removing spine pieces, and is regularly used for consolidating paper edges, where they may have lost strength over time. In each case, the material and media must be tested before MC is used.
This particular recipe is used at the V&A to make MC that can be kept for a month or so, out of the fridge.
Methyl Cellulose 5%
5g Methyl Cellulose
100ml water – 75ml hot and 25ml cold
– put the MC powder into a jar which has a lid.
– pour the hot water on top and stir.
– pour the cold water on top of this and stir again until powder is gone.
– leave for about 1 hour to cool.
– put lid on and leave until clear, about 24 hours.
Well today I sidetracked a little from my Essay book, to do some pH testing on Filofax paper. I had discussed this briefly with Steve from Philofaxy, and decided to try both the cotton cream paper and white paper. For accurate testing, I sampled five sheets of each and am showing my results below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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