A Method in Wet Paper Repairs

Well this term we have really started to conserve objects, which has been great, we’ve had some great tuition from a very skilled paper conservator, who has been guiding us through the different techniques. Friday we were working on wet paper repairs, which uses japanese tissues and wheat starch paste to repair tears and form infills where paper is missing.

This is an old piece of laid paper, from a book. Initially it had two tears and two missing sections (not including the hole in the middle which I haven’t fixed yet!), all of which I have now repaired.

The japanese tissue used for the repair was called Tangujo, and the paper used for the infills was an ‘orphan’ piece of handmade antique laid paper. Unfortunately when doing the corner repair I failed to correctly line up the laid lines, and mine’s gone a bit skew-whiff, which is a bit pants and what seems like a lost opportunity to get it right. Mph. The infill paper was extremely crinkled, which meant a great opportunity to practice humidification, which worked pretty well even if I do say so myself!

Tools of a bookbinder (a student at least!)

Well it seems that this year is already one for finishing off projects that have been sitting around for several years, the first being the finishing of my quilt squares, which I am very relieved about! And now I have managed to finished my tool kit, which has been sitting around unfinished for two years. I made it too long initially and have been meaning to reduce it in size for a long time. So here it is finished – finally!

As you can see the top folds over and it rolls into a portable tool kit, which has been very useful. My tool kit contains a few scalpels, a cobblers knife, two bonefolders, dentist tools, a japanese brush, a japanese awl, a water pen, nail clippers, scissors, tweezers, a ruler, an eraser and a couple of very nice wooden muji pencils.

This is my Singer sewing machine, which along with my tool kit is a favourite possession of mine. My father bought it for me from a charity shop, and amazingly it had all the original instructions, extra feet, extension plate and all sorts still with it. With some good instructions from my father and his help in installing my new motor for it, I have been making good use of it recently.

Paper conservation

Over the last few weeks, we have been introduced to the art of paper conservation at college. Paper conservation is a key part of the craft of a book conservator, as, quite obviously, the majority of a book is paper!

We have been learning how to recognize the differences between different types of paper, including hand made and machine made papers, and to recognize the defects in a sheet of paper, such as the difference between mould and rust spots. Many old papers will have fragments of iron in their fibres, which over time will rust, causing reddish patches. This is an integral part of the paper structure and will effect the paper from the inside out, unlike mould, which starts as a surface problem (this may then go through to the other side of the paper, but not necessarily).

I have been working on a probate document (pictured), which has manuscript, coloured inks, printing, embossed stamps, ┬ádeckled edges and a very early form of photocopying (not technically photocopying) – a little bit of everything that has to be taken into consideration when conserving (e.g., you cannot do a full bath wash, as all the manuscript ink would run and the embossed stamps would be lost). In the pictures below I have been humidifying it to relax the folds. I then put it under a couple of weights to reduce the folds further.

As you can see – I am attempting to remember all this information, and what I do remember, I’m quite proud of! (It’s quite a feat in my opinion!)