The Deterioration of a Book

Deterioration of a Book

Sea Fishing on the English Coast
by Frederick G. Aflalo
Hardback with laminate cover, no dust jacket, perfect bound without sewn sections.

The Deterioration of a Book

As a book conservator, I repair books on a daily basis, all in varying states of destruction and disrepair. As a resident of Worthing and the South Coast, I am witness to the destruction and disrepair caused by the sea and coastal weather to buildings and all kinds of objects.

However I have yet to see any evidence of a book being destroyed by the sea and weather. This is what I hope to observe over the course of the year ahead, and record here as part of an ongoing installation with ‘Art on the Pier‘.

The book itself is installed at Coast Cafe, near The Book Hut, and new and updated images will be put onto my website on a monthly basis.

A record of the deterioration

 

Treasure Island | Starting a Fine Binding

Treasure Island Starting a Fine Binding

June 2016 will see the return of the Worthing Artists Open Houses to our seaside town. As a craftsperson, I have previously enjoyed the increased members of the public coming to say hello at The Book Hut, but never directly taken part. This year, however,  I will be much more involved, with two projects on display and a workshop at the Worthing Library, it’s all go at this end. The first, and key project, is that which is introduced here – Treasure Island – a fine binding of my own creating, that will be on display at StudioFreer in June. It is the first fine binding I have made for approximately four years, and the very first which will be available to buy.

Treasure Island | Starting a Fine Binding

The following initial stages were madeto the binding to prepare the text block for sewing:

  • Initially the cover was removed from the binding and kept for future use in the design process.
  • The textblock was then placed in the press and the spine lining and adhesive (animal glue) was removed manually with a spatular, having been previously softened with a wheat starch paste poultice.
  • The sections were then cleaned individually and put in the press for flattening.
  • The outer folio of each section was then guarded at the spine with a 12gsm tengujo tissue to reinforce them, and placed back in the press.
  • It is now ready to go onto the sewing frame.

In addition to the preparation of the sections, the leather has now been delivered for the later stages of the binding – a nice lime green goatskin.

Treasure Island the leather
Green goatskin ready for later stages of the binding


This book will be on display at StudioFreer 18th/19th June, 25th/26th June, 2nd/3rd July. It will be on sale at this time. If it is something you would be interested in purchasing, please do get in touch.

From One Basket Case to Another

Over the summer, I was lucky enough to be invited to the private view of the City Lit Basket Course, which was a culmination of work by students over the last two years. Unsurprisingly this was quite a substantial and impressive collection of work. I have to admit my naïvety here, as I really had no idea that basketry could be so creative. The course, though advertised for beginners, appeared to cater for many levels, as there were returning basketers, who have been doing it for years.

My aunt, Christiane

My reason for attending the (very hot!) private view was that my aunt has been a student there these past two years, so I was keen to see her accomplishments, and I am duely bias in thinking hers were, of course, the best! So without further delay, here are some of my favourites…

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This amazing beast of a basket by Christiane Gunzi (my aunt!) came from exploring the effect of the environment on local woodland, in particular the great storm of 87′ and the change it caused in the growth of trees. Once the storm had hit, the woods grew erratically and all over the place. The precursor to this basket was an incredibly neat and perfectly formed one, representing the natural formulaic layout of the wood.

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This extraordinary piece was called Paradise House, by Anita Vozik. I thought if it was made larger, it would be an excellent garden escape pod, but it did have a more serious meaning as it was representing a hay bale, the gap being a scythe cut. Anita is Hungarian, and that is their traditional method of cutting and storing hay.

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Janice Brooklyn – A fellow book enthusiast, and past attendee of the University of the Arts London. These are amazing basket woven paper creations, I could easily have a few of these on my wall!

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This upside down porcupine was made by Karen Lawrence, and definitely another favourite of mine. All the little spikes are made from cable ties and must have taken an age to weave in! It was one of a large collection of Karen’s baskets, all of which were incredibly impressive.

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This collection by Christiane Sans (another Christiane, but not my aunt!) was more abstract than the previously ones shown here, but equally as fascinating. The materials she used appeared to be more salvage than the regular cane, but I did not have a chance to ask her about them.

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Gail Romanes – These were definitely another favourite of mine, there must be something about miniature things that makes you love them just for being small! They were tiny and perfect!

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And finally, Gareth Williams’. I believe Gareth was a returning basketer, who has obviously developed an amazing skill in the craft over the years. These reminded me of something by Escher!

I have included websites where I have them (only one I think), but have grained from plastering people’s email addresses all over the web. However if you would like to get in touch with any of these basket cases, let me know and I can put you in contact.

aMAZEme at the Southbank Centre

This week The Man and I had one of our “Luke & Maudie’s Fun Day Out”. I love these days, they are filled with enjoyable meandering, varied and regular pub visits (preferably trying out new ones) and generally having an enjoyable fun day.

The Saturday just gone was one of these days, this time along the Southbank – one of my favourite parts of London, and if you have not been recently, or are due to visit London soon, I cannot suggest it strongly enough to visit. It’s fabulous all year round, come Christmas there will be hundreds of little markets and lights on all the trees. But this time of the year is a time for drinking outside and picking up the sunshine amongst the London cloud – its wonderful!

The Propstore was the first stop – a bar just outside the National Theatre, which is one of these pop-up bars that will be there until the end of September. It’s made from old bits of scenery from the theatre and supplies micro-brewery beers including a very nice pale ale!

We also popped into the The Royal Festival Hall (another favourite), and managed to see a fantastic exhibition called aMAZEme. It’s been created by Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo and is based on the concepts of Art & Literature, Entertainment and Generosity. It is a collection of books built up into a maze in the shape of a fingerprint and really is great. It is one of these rare exhibitions where you can get involved, the phrase is “feel free to pick up the books and have a read, but please replace them for others to enjoy” – how great is that?!

I thoroughly enjoyed it, there isn’t much like being surrounded by walls of books, so I strongly suggest anyone in and around London goes and has a look, and possibly a pint on the river – can’t get much better than that!

Some books were in need of conservation!

I remember this book from when I was a kid!

On Eagle’s Wings

Today I was back at the V&A for the first time in the New Year – it’s always nice to return after a break and find familiar faces, so it was a happy return!

The day was also boosted by seeing On Eagle’s Wings exhibition at the museum. This is an exhibition on comic books that myself and a collegue have been working on for the last month or so, each of us doing paper repairs on the covers and display spreads of the comics. Having been involved since the start of the conservation work, it was really nice to see the exhibition come to fruition.

Due to copyright issues, I was not able to get any close-ups of the comics themselves, but in the images below you can see the general layout. It is located outside the Twentieth Century gallery and takes up four of the cabinets there. One of the cabinets is specifically dedicated to the girls comics, which I worked a lot on. Girl is the counterpart to Eagle, which is the key comic book for the exhibitions. The latter was an extremely popular boys comic whereas Girl was one of the leading girl’s comic books, including such items as Wendy & Jinx (a detective duo) and how to do flower arrangements.

I was pleased to see that of those comics that I had worked on, I was not able to see the paper repairs, which is a good sign!

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Mondays at the V&A

Mondays at the V&A have been quite varied recently, which has been a pleasant change. Although I am very keen to help with the Daily Mail project, it is always good to alternate! This week and a little bit of last week, Sal and I were working on conserving comic books for a forthcoming exhibition which will be taking place next year.

The comics have been amazing, very early renditions of some classics, including a first edition of Superman (I haven’t managed to get my hands on this one yet!) and also some Daring Dan (not sure if that is correct). As yet i have not come across any Marvel comics, which are generally a favourite, especially X-Men, but I’m not actually sure they are old enough for this exhibition – its going to be a good one!

Anyway the conservation is very minimal, as their are so many comics, we can’t spend long on each of them, so they are having their covers repaired of any tears, and also any spreads that are displayed – if any. So very minimal.

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