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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Essays, Letters and Poems 1781

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This is the book I am working on at the moment, it has been a few weeks now since I started working on this book, and I hope to finish it before Christmas if all goes well. There have been some hiccups along the way, but as of today, it seemed to be alright when I left it.

It has been a book for me to practice board reattachment, which is a series of lectures we have been having for the past couple of weeks. Here I am going to list the work I have been doing on the book for my journal and hopefully include some pictures of how it has advanced.

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The book has both boards detached and a severely deteriorated spine, as you can see in the photograph, the end papers are detached with some minor paper repairs necessary. The end bands and end caps have also deteriorated and are no longer present, through there is some evidence of their initial present. A full account of the damage is in my documentation report.

The first step I was advised to take was to prepare some toned tissue for the repairs to the cover and also make any paper repairs. These included reattaching the end papers with the use of a japanese hinge on each side. This worked very well and has formed a discreet and strong attachment.

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Toned japanese tissue for cover repairs.

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Reattachment of the endpapers using japanese tissue hinges.

Pulp papers with Alan Buchanon

We have recently had a fascinating day with Alan Buchanon on making and using pulp papers for paper repairs as an alternative to japanese and western paper repairs. This is a technique that Alan has honed to a great art and precise formula that allows any conservator to give it a go an come out with a good and useable result.

To start with we made and dyed paper at the same time, this was done using shreds of a high grade of cotton rag paper to make the pulp and a precise mixture of dyes to get the colour. The percentage of the colour is essential a the lower the percentage, the lighter the colour. There were about six colour charts using a different percentage of dye for each chart, these can be seen in the photographs below.

Once the paper was made, we then moved on to making the pulp. By take the object and comparing it to the charts, it was possible to see what colour match the object best. Once found, the chart then gave grammages of how much paper was needed from each colour in that percentage, these could be weighed out and blended together like a recipe!

At this point a pulp was ready, and after making small samples and adding any colours if necessary, we were ready to repair. This was done using a powerful suction table, on which the object sat with the area to be repair masked out of melinex in order to prevent any damage to the surrounding area. Using a pippet, the pulp was then squirted into the area the be mended and built up gradually to the required amount. Once this was reached, the use of a hair fryer would dry out the final parts of the repair, and it was done!

I was unsure how strong these repairs would be as there is no adhesive involved. Alan assured me that the combination of the suction of the table and the hair dryer meant thy the cotton fibres would form a very strong covalent bond with the cotton fibres in the paper. This was not necessarily the same with wood pulp papers, which might need a small amount of adhesive mixed into the pulp to ensure it adheres enough.

Amazing!

More Stamp Paper

As promised some time back, I have now made some more stamp paper, the last one was a sort of practice run, this is what I had been planning. I have made them a lot bigger, A2 in fact, and YES they took a REEEAAALLY long time to make!

Pinks, Purples & Reds
Oranges, Yellows & Browns

The plan is to scan them in high quality and then get them properly printed on a nice archival paper. That way I can use them as book covers, end papers and all sorts of wonderful things! I also won’t have to cut these ones up! I might even put these on my wall as they look quite nice in real life – even if I do say so myself!

Greens and Blues

I have some more in the pipeline, those will be subject specific, a you seem to get so many of the same thing in these bigs bulk packs of stamps, so I am thinking ones with, animals, birds, transport, flowers and maybe a small one with insects!