Mondays at the V&A

As mentioned in my previous post on the Eagle comics, Monday was the first day back at the V&A, and thankfully I was given the nice straight forward task of box making to start the year. The V&A boxes are not like those we worked on at MODA, which we made from scratch, these are almost entirely made for you before you start!

Having measured the books, the measurements are then put into the box making machine, and the boxes are cut flat as the image shows. The first step is then to put the rivets onto the edges, these are so that the box can be tied shut. The museum has an amazing machine that presses the rivets all together with a foot peddle – its so simple!

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Then the string goes in which will tie onto the rivets, and then the two layers of boxes are adhered together with EVA and pressed to dry.

They are then folded and ready for the books! As I said, a super nice start to the year, and very therapeutic! Once I had done these, I was then doing some minor cover repairs on a couple of books that are going to be part of the Golden Spider Silk exhibition – I can’t say I enjoyed looking at these books, though I could appreciate the excellent hand painted drawings, however being of spiders, they did give me the shudders!

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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 – Comic love

As you may know, my Mondays at the moment are spent at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington, working on a variety of conservation projects and helping where possible.

Today this meant continuing conservation work on a selection of comics for a forthcoming exhibition in 2012, though unfortunately it’s not currently listed on their What’s On list. I had started work on these comics a couple of weeks back, but this week saw a more progressive leap forward and will hopefully a move onto the displays next week.

The collection I was working on today were all girls comics from the mid 20th Century, including ones like Mandy, Lady P, Princess Tina and my personal favourite – Girl, the female version of Eagle, which includes items such as how to arrange dried flowers!

'Girl' requiring some repair work around the edges

The repairs we are doing are paper repairs to the covers and any spreads that might be shown in the exhibitions. Due to the quality of the paper, there are often several tears around the edges of the sheets, and a substantial amount of damage to the spines. Today I also came across a couple of rusty staples that had to be removed, de-rusted and returned to the comics. I have some pictures below:

A common type of tear along the centre where the comic would have been folded in half
A (hopefully) fairly invisible repair along the spine, where it was deteriorating
De-rusted staple ready to go back into the comic
The staple back in the comic

I’m quite looking forward to seeing the exhibition and the fruits of my labour!!

COMIC BOOK CONSERVATION

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!

TREATMENT

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.

An afternoon visit to the Foundling Museum

Well this afternoon was an absolutely fascinating one spent at the Foundling Museum looking at some of the collection held there.

The Foundling Museum was initially set up as a children hospital for abandoned children in the 18th Century by Captain Thomas Coram. The musician Handel was a friend of Coram and strongly supported the hospital, putting on benefit concerts to raid money for the hospital. These concerts were one of the first public renditions of Messiah, one of Handel’s most famous pieces.

It was a collections if Handel’s work, both print and manuscript that we were looking at today. The pictures below should show some of the amazing books that we were viewing, which included a collection of works which was highly publicised earlier in the year for being a previously unknown work by Vivaldi! The whole afternoon was fascinating!

HISTORY AT THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM

I know it might be yet another post about the V&A, but at the moment I seem to be spending quite a bit of time there, and have now seen a few interesting things! The National Art Library seems to be a hive on interest and exciting happenings – almost like toys that come to life when you’re not looking, the National Art Library leaps into action on Mondays when it’s closed to the public. A couple of Monday’s ago saw the BBC filming a piece in the library on armour and how it was made, as the library itself makes such a good backdrop – so watch out for that on your screens as I may be in the background!

A week ago I witnessed the changing of the Art Library’s light bulbs – an amazing feat, and (perhaps sadly) I’ve often wondered how they did it. Well now I know – They’re all done on a pulley system – there’s me imagining someone on a big step ladder precariously tittering on the edge whilst attempting to remove the glass globes – this in fact is not what happens at all – someone on the roof of the library winds down the pulley and the chandelier comes down all together so that they can all be changed whilst standing on the floor! I don’t think it happens all that often, so here are a couple of pics!

Lets not forget the quilting circle the meets on a Monday in the library – like I say a bustling place! I haven’t yet managed to join them with my quilt, which I should probably do, as they do look like pros!

Another interesting part of the V&A that perhaps everyone may not notice as they rush to get into the building itself, is the external wall which faces the Science Museum. Here you will see a scattering of craters in the wall itself, looking a little like a deteriorating wall. The wall is far from deteriorating, but it may take a moment to notice the plaque below stating that these are the result of the Blitz during World War II, which have been left as a subtle yet poignant reminder to the war.

And finally, as you walk down Exhibition Road towards the Royal Albert Hall, and take a left just after the V&A, you’ll find a little hubbub of activity around the LSE campus, including The Queen’s Tower, built to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. Nearly demolished in the 60’s, it was rescued by the Victorian Society and John Betjeman, and is now all that remains of the Imperial Institute that once surrounded it!