Methods in building up damaged corners

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.

 

Making Methyl Cellulose

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.

Islamic bindings – instructions part 1

Islamic Headband Feature

These instructions are to coincide with the Islamic binding lessons that we have been having with Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Sewing and spine preparation

The two sewing stations must be prepared in advance of sewing as the paper is not good enough quality to work blind on the book, this can be done by piercing the paper or by scoring the stations with a knife. Commonly sewing was in yellow silk.

Islamic Binding Sewing two stations
Sewing two stations

Sew the first two sections twice as it is not initially sewn off, then continue to sew using link stitches. For sewing off, make the final stitch a kettle stitch, so that it is secured.

Knock sections up between boards and put into a laying press.

Stipple a small amount of paste into the sections to stick initially, then repaste with stippling and put spine lining on and bone folder down. The spine lining should be an evenweave linen, commonly mauve was used.

Islamic Binding Pasting up the spine
Pasting up the spine

Excess linen is to be trimmed and pasted to the book block. This will be hidden by the board attachments. The linen should only be a couple of millimetres either side of the spine.

Islamic Binding lining the spine
Lining the spine

Endbands:

End band cores should be the same material as covering, cut 3mm and just wider than the text block, these are to be glued up on the flesh side of the leather and moulded so that no fibres stick out. The cores should then be stuck onto the spine, adjacent to the spine and just hanging over either side.

Each section centre should then be marked.

Islamic Binding The end band core
The end band core

Sewing of the endbands is done using three threads:

Primary thread – this should be a bright colour, often a gold, so that it can be seen in contrast to the other two. This is sewn through every section and over the cores, which creates the basis for the second two threads.

Islamic Binding Working the primary
Working the primary
Islamic Binding working the first two rows
working the first two rows

Secondary thread – this is woven over and under the primary thread at the middle of the core and left at the other end

Islamic Binding Locking the secondary with the tertiary
Locking the secondary with the tertiary

Tertiary thread – this follows the secondary thread on each row, going ‘under the overs’ and ‘over the unders’ meaning that every time a secondary thread goes over the primary, the tertiary will go under both, and when a secondary thread goes under a primary, the tertiary goes over both.

Islamic Binding Starting the tertiary
Starting the tertiary

The tertiary then anchors the secondary at the other end, allowing the secondary to weave back through the primaries to the starting point. Once the tertiary has come back and two rows are complete, there should be a chevron pattern starting. These two rows are then shuffled along the primaries to sit on the text block, before the next row is started.

Islamic Binding Chevron
Shuffling the chevron down the primary
Islamic Headband The finished end bands
The finished end bands

To finish text block:

Tie down end band knots within the text block.

Trim decorative end papers just smaller than first sheet and wet before pasting. Paste just over the fabric on the spine and press. Once pressed, trim any excess decorative papers.

Pair endband cores very slightly and paste down onto book cover.

Paste and fan out text block threads onto spine.

Boards:

Three boards are used per cover, which should be lightly wetted prior to pasting.

Boards are exactly the same size of text block in height, though not in width – Square up one corner of board and measure against cover of book, leaving a joint space at the spine, about the same size as the endbands, trim the boards to this size once pasted.

Islamic Binding trimming boards
Measuring up the board for trimming

Leave boards sharp without back cornering them.

The foredge flap will only be the thickness of one board not three, and will be done when covering the book.

The foredge envelope will be as the covers and three board thicknesses. It should be the same height for the boards and measured to exactly half the width of the boards. The point is central and the depth of the angle is half the width of the envelope.

The pH of Filofax Paper

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.

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Cotton Cream
1: 7.6
2: 8.1
3: 7.9
4: 7.7
5: 8.1
Average: 7.9

White Paper
1: 7.2
2: 7.5
3: 7.2
4: 7.0
5: 7.3
Average: 7.2

So in conclusion, both papers are very close to pH neutral which is encouraging. The Cotton Cream is a little more alkali at 7.9 than the white paper.

Neither of them are verging on the acidic side which is good, and the white paper I have used is from 2003, so it has kept acid free for a substantial amount of time.

All in all – very encouraging!

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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