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.
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.
Made endpapers were created using gold leaf and paint and sewn along with the textblock.
Following pressing, it was sewn onto three tapes.
All three edges were paired and gilded in gold leaf.
Endbands were sewn in gold and black silk.
The spine was lined with fray not and manilla.
The boards were laced in and covered in a smooth cartridge paper and sanded.
The binding was then covered in a light green goatskin.
The cover decoration consisted of the first chapter of the book blind tooled onto the cover, and the title brought out in gold leaf.
Penrhyn Archive Jamaican Estate Slave Accounts, Bangor University Archives
Single section pamphlets of handmade paper, stab-sewn through a plain or marble-paper cover Project for National Conservation Service Report written by Mary Garner
DECONTAMINATION, CONSERVATION & DIGITISATION
The items treated in this project come from the Penrhyn Estate archive, deposited at the Bangor University Archives in North Wales. The project included a series of 32 paper account pamphlets from Jamaican estates. The accounts include names, roles and other details of slaves working on the estates and as such are of considerable significance historically and for their descendants researching their family histories. They are striking and disturbing documents, with slaves ‘accounted’ for as resources; for example death is referred to as a ‘decrease in slaves’ and birth as an ‘increase in slaves’.
The items have suffered from extensive water damage and damp, causing excessive mould growth, fading, weakness and discolouration. The project aim was to decontaminate and stabilise the collection and to digitise the account papers. The programme of digitisation was carried out after cleaning but prior to conservation treatments. This enabled capture of the documents in their found state and so that any repairs did not interfere with legibility of the text. Digitisation would also minimise unnecessary handling of items in the future, which while strengthened would remain vulnerable.
The main issues within this project were the presence of fugitive iron gall inks and mould damage. Iron gall ink is prone to fading and deterioration due to instability inherent in the ink composition and the varying recipes it has been historically made with. Since 2004 Mould has been classed as a Category 1 risk to health as assessed under the Health and Safety Hazards Rating System (HHSRS) – the same class as asbestos for example. The HHSRS risk assessment has been legislation in England & Wales since 2006, under the Health & Safety Act. The material in this collection had considerable mould infection and presented a definable risk to staff and users. For this reason it was vitally important to remove mould growth and endeavour to denature the spores remaining in the paper. Mould damage and bacteria cause heavy darkening and discolouration which renders documents illegible over time, in some cases causing a problem with digitisation.
The items comprised single section pamphlets of handmade paper, stab-sewn through a plain or marble-paper cover. The paper had become very fibrous and fragile and easily prone to further damage from handling. Many had large areas of loss and some pages had become stuck together. The sewing structures had disintegrated and in some cases no longer held folios into signatures.
Cleaning was carried out with soft brushes and a museum vacuum where applicable, on a Bassaire extraction unit with an ultra fine ULPA filter. Due to the weakened state of so many of the paper documents and their covers, strengthening and stabilisation was achieved by consolidation of fibres and support and repair to areas of loss and damage. Consolidation using 1% hydroxpropycellulose (‘Klucel G’) in isopropanol had the added advantage of safely denaturing the mould spores in the fibres in the treated areas. Klucel G 3% in isopropanol was also used as an adhesive for lens and Japanese tissue repairs to tears and areas of loss.
The old paper covers were in severely degraded condition and while some could be repaired, nonetheless they would continue to be weak and not provide suitable protection. On this occasion it was decided to commission new hand-made marble papers for new covers. The marble-papers were lined with an archival quality paper to make them slightly stiffer and the cleaned, digitised and repaired pamphlets were re-sewn into them. Archival sleeves were also made for each account to be housed in.