Last month our lab hosted a little workshop, taught by talented conservation technician, Chris Voynovich (PLCH), on collapsible book cradles. The workshop came about after our conservator shared images of Elizabeth Rideout’s collapsible book cradle with us and explained how beneficial this would be for the special collections holding libraries to have cradles like this on hand. Chris, who is usually the go-to technician in the lab for tricky enclosures, jumped at the opportunity to create a cradle. So without any instructions available he made a collapsible, adjustable cradle based on the images of Rideout’s cradle online. Chris then wrote up some instructions for a standard size cradle that fits most books. With the instructions on hand we went ahead and planned the workshop, inviting colleagues from both UCL and PLCH.
Prior to the workshop the conservation techs prepared the materials (except for the cloth – allowing people to choose whichever cloth they preferred) and set up our handy rolling table for people to work on. Having all the materials prepped in advance was a big help since the workshop participants ranged from beginner to expert.
With the instructions, the cradle is fairly simple for those with some experience in book making and book construction. The construction of the cradle arms and the base is very similar to a basic cloth case for a book. You adhere 80pt board to a large piece of cloth, using a jig (3 pieces of 80pt board glued together) to create gaps between the boards that allow the cradle arms to fold and move. The edges of the cloth are turned in and then a second, smaller piece of cloth is adhered to the top of the board pieces and molded into the gaps between the boards.
Once the cradle arms and case are assembled attach Velcro to the indicated areas and then VOILA! You have a handy, portable, collapsible cradle. It’s easy to store and very versatile.
The workshop was a great success! Our colleagues all walked away with a finished cradle (or several, since the conservation techs cradles were created for special collections). After the workshop Chris and I worked on the original instructions he created; making sure to answer any questions and fill in any gaps that came up during the workshop. If you are interested in making a collapsible cradle yourself, you can download a copy of our instructions HERE. Enjoy!
Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician