Yesterday was my last Monday at the V&A until May – this is due to a series of varied events including some bank holidays, a two week trip to Scotland (next week!) and a two week trip to Norfolk (in about a month) and after that I will be back at the V&A.
I had hoped to get my book on four artists to a stage where it could be sewn at least, if not finished. Unfortunately, being plagued by illness this week, it was all I could do to get there and do a few hours work. Prior to getting to work I had already forgotten my tool kit and managed to fill my tank up with petrol, then realise I had also forgotten my wallet – so the day started well!
Anyway, I did manage to guard all the central sections. The first and last sections are connected to the cover by the first two leaves being pasted down to the front cover and the last two to the back cover, so these two sections will need a little more complex guarding techniques, which I will tackle on my return in May.
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!
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!
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!
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:
I’m quite looking forward to seeing the exhibition and the fruits of my labour!!
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.
Since December I have been volunteering on Monday’s at the V&A, which has been an amazing experience and taught me huge amounts. This week, however, has been a little different – I am part of a volunteer group at the V&A working on the ‘Rolled Storage Objects’ in the prints and drawings department. Its currently stock take week for the libraries so all of them are closed for the next two weeks and they have taken the opportunity to sort out a small collection of rolled pieces that have been in a cupboard untouched, in some cases for up to 100 years!
As you might imagine, it has been fascinating – we have already uncovered a collection of William Morris wallpapers that the V&A didn’t realise they had prints of. The idea has been to get all the pieces out and flatten them through humidification and make any repairs where necessary. As many conservators will know, this always takes longer than expected, as the repairs are always worse than one might think, and the collection larger than previously thought!
I have a few pictures of one particular piece that I have been working, which was really interesting. When unrolled, there were about five or six charcoal drawings, as can be seen here, all grubby, curly and damaged – so we set to work – cleaning both sides and putting repairs on the verso, which in some cases were tears going all across the page. Then we found out that the drawings were study cases for some of the sculptural work of the building itself – Amazing! The sculpture form is called Sgraffito, and originally would have been white lines carved out of black (a bit like scratching colours through a black was crayon drawing!). So dutifully we then went and had a look at the side of the building where they were, and there is was, the piece I had been working on – inscribed in the wall for the past 100 odd years – AMAZING!!