Making Solvent Set Tissue

Today was the final lecture from our visiting tutor who has been teaching us board reattachment. For her final instalment, we looked at solvent set tissue, which is not completely dissimilar to gelatine set tissue, and can also cross over into the heat set tissue theme as well – a multifunctional tool!

The reasons for using solvent set tissue, are twofold, the first being to be used when a book has such sensative leather that to get any paste or anything containing water would cause darkening – this form of paper repair is completely water free and therefore at no threat of causing this. The second key use is speed, as once set up, the process can be much quicker than using paste and tissue. It does have its downfalls as well, which is why it might not be used all the time – it is more permanent than wheat starch paste, if it gets erectly onto the leather rather than the repair tissue, it cannot be removed.

So the technique is as follows:

  • Initially tone some tissue in preparation for it to be pasted onto
  • Get the equipment ready, including a squeegee, a small screen print tray and a water trough to cover them both once used – the adhesive is extremely quick to dry and will not come off once stuck.
  • Humidify the toned tissue.
  • Lay the frame onto a sheet of melinex – this is what the adhesive will end up on.
  • Paste out small batches of adhesive along one edge of the screen and squeegee evenly over the rest of the frame.
  • Once evenly spread, remove the frame and lay out the toned tissue, ensuring a flat surface.
  • Allow to dry.
  • This can then be stored for future use.
  • When using, reactivate with solvent.

The adhesive used is called Lascoux and is an Acrylic glue. It is of the same family as PVA, though unlike PVA, it is completely non-reversable once dried. It is possible to reactivate the adhesive with solvent once dried, though it will not remove it, just make it sticky again. It is this method that is used to reactivate the adhesive on the tissue when you want to use the tissue on a book.

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

 

 

Joint tacketing

Part of our series of lectures on board attachment included learning and practising joint tacketing. This particular method of reattaching the boards, is not necessarily a popular one as it is quite interventive and requires piercing the spine of the book. Conservators in Oxford have honed their technique and have it down to a fine art, but this is perhaps because they use the method quite regularly.

Another reason for not using this method of attachment that regularly is because it requires a high shoulder to the book, which are often not present. Indeed most of us has to make sample books to work on as our work books from The Courtauld and Lambeth Palace did not have such high shoulders.

One tacket and one piercing point

The technique is to pierce the spine from the inside of the shoulder, either using an awl or a needle screwdriver (which break quite easily), once the hole is made, a hoop of linen thread is inserted into the hole, and looped over itself to be secured in place. Next hole must be put in corresponding areas of the boards to be reattached. At each sewing station, one hole is made on the edge of the board, coming out into two hold on the underside of the board. This way, the two pieces of thread, are passed through the two holes and tied in a knot on the inside of the board, or spread out as in the picture below.

Two threads spread out

It is a very secure method of board attachment, though interventive as mentioned earlier. A way to avoid lifting the hole spine of the book being worked on, it is possible to cut a small ‘L’ along the edge and lift a small piece of the spine to attach the threads.

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.

Essays, Letters and Poems 1781, vol 2

Having toned some japanese tissue for my repairs to the cover of this book, the next steps were able to happen in conjunction in one another, and I have been working on them steadily. Unfortunately it was at these following points where some hiccups occurred. My colleagues tell me that you learn more if you make mistakes to begin with, though I can’t help feeling a little disappointed in myself.

Having discussed various options with my tutors, we decided that I would remove the spine of the book as it is severely deteriorated and crumbling away. It would also give me practice in spine removal. If this book was of great importance, it is unlikely the spine would be removed and would be worked around. In order to save the spine, I used a Klucel G gel to adhere a strip of japanese tissue, this way, when lifting the spine, it will remain in tact and can be pasted back on again once I have completed the reback.

20111122-212508.jpg

20111122-212452.jpg

Unfortunately, this was the first thing that went wrong, as the spine was so deteriorated, it was not lifting and instead was crumbling rather than coming off in one piece. This meant that having got what meagre bits off that I could, the remainder of the spine would have to be lifted with a poultice and would be unsalvageable.

20111122-212517.jpg

So I started a full spine removal with the hope of using methyl cellulose, but realised once I started to make it that it would have to be left for 24 hours, and unfortunately on the following day, it was much too runny and adding more methyl cellulose meant waiting another 24 hours. It was at this point I moved on to a wheat starch paste poultice, which I found worked well.

20111122-190805.jpg

Then came the second fiasco, having removed the spine, it became apparent that the first two cords had come loose and the sewing, completely eroded, making all the sections loose at this point and the text bock began to split. Rather than resew the book, my tutor decided that it would be better to paste down the cords and hold it together whilst they dried, therefore keeping it together, almost like the modern perfect binding (a ridiculous name given the technique).

20111122-212655.jpg

At the same time that all these problems were occurring, I was also able to consolidate the corners of the book boards and cover them with my specially prepared tissue, which, once dried, all looks okay. I will have to tweak the colour a bit and darken it and am practicing on some dummy boards at the moment, so hopefully they will not be so visible in the end.

20111122-212558.jpg

20111122-212609.jpg

20111122-212639.jpg

 

Making Toned Tissue for Paper Repairs

Tissue toning is something I have only done briefly before this lecture, and not one I had had any instruction in. Having previously had a thorough introduction into pulp repairs with Alan Buchanan, this particular process of toning tissue seemed to make a lot more sense than perhaps it had done previously.

It was necessary to learn to and tone tissue in order to move ahead with our board attachment lectures. The use of japanese tissue is now essential in the repair of books and paper, and has more strength than one might imagine, indeed a hinge repair in japanese tissue is often enough to hold a board onto a book for the foreseeable future, though to look at it, it almost seems impossible.

20111122-162150.jpg

The technique for this tissue toning, was to create a colour pallet similar to the colours of the book cover in question. This was done using different acrylic colours, such as burnt umber and ocre, these can be mixed on a sheet of melinex as an artists pallet is. Once the desired colour is reached, the pigment is then dabbed onto the tissue using a damp piece of cotton wool. This means that it is possible to get a meddly of colours on the tissue.

Personally I was not so enamoured with this particular method. I found both the cotton wool and the tissue would soak up the pigment too quickly to get good coverage, and the tissue ended up looking too patchy and the fibres of the tissue would become damaged and fragile.

20111122-162202.jpg

An alternative method, which I personally prefer, is to make up a pallet of liquid colour in a relatively large quantity. Then the tissue is dipped into the liquid pigment. This way the colour is more consistent and will cover a larger area. It also does not put any strain on the tissue fibres, meaning they retain their strength. Once one tissue is toned, it is possible to add water to the pallet and get a lower percentage of pigment on another sheet, and so on until the pigment is gone and the tissue toning is quite pale.

20111122-162223.jpg

The negative is that it is important to get the right colour before you go ahead and tone the sheet, whereas in the former method, more colour can be added to get the toning correct. In both methods, colour can be added to the tissue once it has been added to the book to blend in the tissue. This is often done with black.

An alternative method, which I have yet to test, is using a spray gun to cover the tissue in the pigment. This should get a maximum coverage of pigment onto the tissue with a minimum effect or damage to the tissue.