Mondays at the V&A

Well today at the V&A has been great today as always. I started today making paste, which I quite often do – it’s a very relaxing start to the week, as I sit under the widow sill and look out into the sun blushed V&A old building whilst stirring the paste. It’s just about finished and ready to cool down as the time comes for morning tea – couldn’t be more perfect timing!

Once tea and paste was done, Anne and I went to the National Art Library to fill up the boxes with books that I was working on last week and at the same time came across a project for me to start working on over the next few weeks.

This book we selected is called Prints from Four Artists, and is a collection of prints by four different artists. It is a large book covered in green parchment, which is something I have not seen before, and Anne tells me is quite rare. The book needs thorough cleaning throughout, which I have started with a chemical sponge – this is going to take me some time! Then I will move on to paper repairs, and finally onto the structure of the book. It needs resewing onto its cords and then rebacking, and some parchment repairs on the front, which I may do with toned parchment, or tissue. The sections are quite thick, so it will be an interesting one to sew back together.

All in all a very interesting book to work on with some fantastic prints throughout and I’m looking forward to getting to work on it.

The green parchment cover
The spine of the book
Damaged sewing
The first page prior to cleaning
The first page after cleaning
me cleaning!

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.

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!

Mondays at the V&A

So after the excitement of the Rolled Object Project over at the V&A, and a well deserved rest on the following bank holiday Monday, it was then back to work as usual at the V&A on Mondays.

These past two Mondays I have been back in the National Art Library making full flap covers for the collection of Vogue magazines that the V&A has. These are particularly popular items that are regularly requested at the library so are having covers for extra protection and to prevent any red-rot. This has been excellent practice for me as I have not done one for a while. Some pics from the covers:

You should be able to see here how extensively the wraps cover the book, not only do they got over the foredge, but the head and tail of both sides as well. After some practice I have honed my technique and no longer fully cut the corners of the flaps, which you can see in one of the close up images, this is a great technique to use to ensure the corners are covered, which can sometimes be tricky when fully trimming the edges.