Author Archives: Holly Prochaska, Head Preservation Services and Lab

Welcome President Pinto!

Xuemao Wang and Neville Pinto

Dean and University Librarian Xuemao Wang and President Neville Pinto

The Preservation Lab had the opportunity to collaborate with our Director of Library Communications, Melissa Norris, and the Head of Archives and Rare Books Library, Kevin Grace, to create a hand bound writing notebook full of fun facts about the Library system.  The book was bound by Jessica Ebert, conservation technician.

Also pictured is a custom bind of Dot Christenson’s book Keep On Fighting: The Life and Civil Rights Legacy of Marian A. Spencer, also bound by Jessica created to mark the gift of the Marian Spencer collection to the Archives and Rare Books Library.

Fun with PhotoDoc – Edition 4

The amazing enclosure made by our very own conservation technician, Chris Voynovich, for volume 1 of the W.S. Porter Collection.

We very recently returned a two volume collection of photographs taken by William S. Porter, known as the W.S. Porter Collection, to the Public Library.  William S. Porter is known in Cincinnati as one of the two photographers responsible for the 1848 Cincinnati Panorama (you can read more about and even explore this amazing daguerreotype panorama here). Volume one of the collection consists of 7 cased photographs (including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes) and 1 non-cased tintype, all reportedly taken by W.S. Porter, while volume 2 consists of one framed daguerreotype of W.S. Porter and a preservation print of that photograph.  When these photographs arrived in the Lab for treatment, many of the cases were damaged (especially along the spine – some broken completely, one previously “repaired” with tape, etc.), the framed photograph needed re-packaging, and the collection needed two custom enclosures (vol. 1 & 2) to safely store all the photographs.

(Left) Before “bench” photos of one of the cased photographs labeled “John Wesley Lever”, (Right) After photos of the mended case.

Now, as anyone who does photographic documentation will tell you, taking treatment documentation photos of photographs is a pain, especially on the copy stand (i.e. from above) and especially when you were trained in-house in a book and paper lab.  Glass objects just aren’t as common around these parts.  During PhotoDoc glass just acts as a mirror, reflecting all your light and even your camera lens and obstructing the actual photograph you are trying to capture.  But we knew that we wanted some good quality photos of the photographs to print as surrogates and to also use in the enclosures.  Black foam core and an Olfa rotary cutter to the rescue!  Using these two supplies I created a non-reflective black surface to place around the camera lens to help reduce reflections and absorb light.

In order to mount this black foam core on the camera lens I measured the diameter of our lens and the distance from the edge of the lens to the neck of the copy stand when the camera was in place.

The foam core allows enough flexibility for the deflector to just slide past the UV filter and snap into place securely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the black non-reflective board in place, I was able, with guidance from our conservator, to get some pretty good shots of the photographs to be used as surrogates.  The photos were also printed out and attached to the back of individual tuxedo boxes for each cased photograph.  Instructions to “store face down” were placed on the front of each tuxedo box to assist patrons in proper storage.  (The glass on all of these photographs is degraded and if stored face up the glass can actually weep onto the photograph causing significant damage, therefore cased daguerreotypes/ambrotypes/tintypes are generally stored up-side-down to prevent further damage to the actual photograph).  All of the tuxedo boxes for volume 1 were housed within a two-tiered clamshell box with two removable trays made by our resident “Box Master”, Chris Voynovich.  It should be noted that it’s a miracle this enclosure made it out of the lab and back to the Public Library, because several staff members were so enamored with it and thought it would make the best jewelry box!  I mean, it kind of would, wouldn’t it?

Here are the images I was able to obtain using my homemade non-reflective board:

Jessica Ebert (UCL) – Conservation Technician

Fun with VideoDoc: Lining a Oversized Map (Edition 3)

Before treatment photo, map with cloth lining.

A couple months ago the lab received an oversized map from the Public Library’s collection.  The map is from 1863 and depicts the businesses of downtown Cincinnati at the time.  The Public Library would like to digitize the map, however when it arrived in the lab it had a variety of creases, stains and losses.  It was also previously lined with cloth.  Conservator, Ashleigh, and Sr. Conservation Tech, Catarina, began the work of removing the map from the prior cloth lining, washing the detached sections of the map to assist in removing the prior cloth lining adhesive, and locally humidifying and flattening the creases and distortions in the paper (caused when the map was previously lined).

Next up, lining the map with kozo fiber tissue and a mixture of wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose.  For this, Ashleigh and Catarina created a make-shift light table, since the Lab’s was not large enough and began piecing the sections of the map back together.  I couldn’t not document this climactic part of the treatment, so I went a little crazy, threw my go-to documentation equipment out the window (i.e. our Nikon DSLR), grabbed my iPhone and made a little video to illustrate the process.  I hope you enjoy it!

*Please note, portions of this video have been sped up to shorten the length of the video…Ashleigh and Catarina work quickly, but not THAT quickly!

Jessica Ebert (UCL) – Conservation Technician

Fun with PhotoDoc – Edition 2

I’m back for another edition of “Fun with PhotoDoc”.  If you missed the first edition you can check it out here.  Originally I had planned for that to be a one-off post, but then I thought it might be fun to make this into more of a series, sharing interesting facets of photographic documentation (aka PhotoDoc) as they come up.  Really, it just gives me an excuse to share all the things about PhotoDoc that I think are just plain cool and to make gifs out of treatment documentation photos, which is so much fun!

This time around I wanted to share some interesting before treatment photos of two War Bond posters from the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County’s collection.  For both of these I photographed the posters using normal illumination and then used raking illumination to highlight tears, cockling and bends/breaks in the paper.

With this War Bond poster the raking illumination really shows off that large tear that extends from the center to the bottom of the poster. And while the normal illumination allows for better visibility of the water damage in the bottom left hand corner, raking light better highlights the resulting cockling and distortion of the paper in that area.

With this War Bond poster the raking illumination really shows off that large tear that extends from the center to the bottom of the poster. Under normal illumination this substantial tear gets lost in the pattern of the female subject’s dress. Also, while the normal illumination allows for better visibility of the water damage in the bottom left hand corner, raking light better highlights the resulting cockling and distortion of the paper in that area.

For this poster, raking light really highlights all the undulations and cockling that have been caused by the poster being partially adhered to a piece of board. You can also more clearly see the fairly large tear located under the word "Hun".

For this poster, raking light really highlights all the undulations and cockling that have been caused by the poster being partially adhered to a piece of board. You can also more clearly see the fairly large tear located under the word “Hun” under raking illumination versus under normal illumination.

Jessica Ebert (UCL) – Conservation Technician

To our Provost and 29th President

As a farewell gift and appreciation for all the work and time dedicated to the University of Cincinnati, The Preservation Lab was asked to create a custom binding for an Album for the Provost and 29th President Beverly J. Davenport. UC Government Relations and University Communications provided the lab with single sheets printed with photographs of Dr. Beverly J. Davenport during her time at the University of Cincinnati.

IMG_5456To create the custom binding the single sheets had to be cut using one of our board shears. All the sheets were precisely cut to the same dimensions and a textblock was created.

IMG_5457Once the textblock was ready, endsheets and pastedowns were selected. In this case since this book was dedicated to our Provost and 29th President, the color of the endsheets where the colors of UC, red and black. A white paper was chosen as a pastedown.

IMG_5458Since the pages were single sheets, the finished book would need to have a simple structure: a double fan adhesive binding. This structure is perfect for a textblock of single sheets as it provides a strong binding that allows the text block to be opened almost flat without causing the pages to separate from each other and break free. The adhesive is pasted onto the spine of the text block with a double fanning technique, where the pages are fanned in both directions allowing the adhesive to reach about 1 mm into the text block pages. After the pages are fanned in both directions, the spine of the text block received a lining of Cambric Cloth to provide support and an attachment for the cover. The spine was also lined with a handmade paper further strengthen the spine and prevent it from breaking from heavy use.

IMG_5460Once the textblock was finished, the cover was created, a cloth cover quarter binding. To continue with the theme of UC colors, a marbled paper with red and black tones was chosen. A black cloth was chosen for the spine lining. The album received striped red stuck- on endbands.

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After the cover was made and the textblock was cased in and the album was ready to receive a title. The title was created using the Lab’s hot stamper. Several titles were made using the same black cloth used on the spine. A silver title stamped on a black cloth was chosen, since it best matched the theme and colors of the cover.

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And the final result:

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The Lab deeply appreciated this opportunity to contribute to the farewell gift and wish our 29th President Dr. Beverly J. Davenport all the best.

Catarina Figueirinhas (UCL) — Senior Conservation Technician

Polyester Encapsulated Page Binding *Part Two: The Components

This past year, the Preservation Lab was recruited to conserve the Public Library’s scrapbook of Althea Hurst.

Scrapbooks are complex library materials.  They are conduits to stories told through the use of collections of ephemeral materials (a.k.a. materials meant to be thrown away and not meant to last), such as newspaper clippings, letters and postcards, and maps.

Due to their collection of content, scrapbooks usually are bursting with problematic preservation issues.  As I wander through the depths of almost any library, I often find a scrapbook lurking within the stacks, silently crying out, pleading for preservation first aid.

Often, fragile pages hold stiff, brittle, or heavy parts that are adhered and folded, frequently found layered and overlapping.  These parts are filled with information and are intended to be handled and experienced; however, the parts become fragile with age and are nearly impossible to touch without causing damage.

Before1

Althea Hurst scrapbook with adhered components, before conservation treatment. 

In most situations, it’s often best to digitize an object and protect it by storing it in an enclosure and recommending patrons reference the digital copy rather than handling the physical object.  However, if an object will undoubtedly be handled (and the importance of the object warrants conservation treatment) another solution is to support the pages by encapsulating them within clear polyester film.  Often, the polyester film encapsulations are then bound into an encapsulated page binding to preserve the original format of the scrapbook and to preserve the parts in the author’s intended order. However, this course of treatment can be an invasive solution that requires disbinding the original object.

In the case of the Public Library’s scrapbook, the scrapbook had been previously reformatted due to its poor condition by a prior owner.  At some point in the object’s history, each page and cover had been separated from the binding and stored in non-archival plastic sleeves to protect the pages from breaking.  Rubber bands held the album in two stacks.

Before2

Althea Hurst scrapbook as received, before conservation treatment.

When the library received the object, the pages were in dire need of stabilization before it could be digitized and also needed improved storage.  Because the scrapbook was already disbound into pieces (even the covers were detached) an encapsulated page binding was selected as the most fitting option for the storage of this object.  The local historical importance of the scrapbook warranted full treatment.

Before3

Althea Hurst scrapbook, view of inside upper cover and first page, before treatment.

Being a novice in encapsulated page bindings, I reviewed a few binding structures and wrote about my discoveries here.  I settled on constructing a modified screw-post binding to fit the needs of the Public Library’s scrapbook.

Now armed with a direction for constructing the album structure, the next challenge was:

How do I encapsulate a scrapbook that houses a variety of adhered material, such as pamphlets, postcards, letters, maps, and more, and still make the parts accessible?

Encapsulation Techniques

To determine a solution for preserving the arrangement of parts, I researched various methods of welding paper, polyester film, and spun bond sheets of polyester webbing to encapsulated pages.  I compiled the methods into a model binding for reference in preparation for treatment.

Below are a list of experimental solutions for housing and encapsulating the scrapbook’s multiple parts.   Many of the techniques were utilized in the final treatment, as you will see in the photographs below.

1. Traditional Encapsulation

  • This technique was used to fully encapsulate scrapbook pages overall, or to encapsulate removed single sheets that needed extra support
  • Pages or parts were sandwiched between polyester film and ultrasonically welded on all four sides:

traditional

  • Gaps along the corners were left to encourage air exchange and to prevent buildup of acidic off-gassing of the historic materials.

2. U-sleeve: welded on 3 sides for top edge access

  • Useful for items that may need to be handled outside of the plastic and are thick or heavy

Usleeve

 

Usleeve2

Hinged U-sleeve allows access to the card as well as stability for storing next to the envelope.

 

3.  Polyester sheets welded on two parallel sides

  • Could potentially be helpful in the right circumstance for thin items that may need to be handled outside of the plastic. Two access points are helpful for reducing static cling and suction, however, items may accidentally slide out more easily (see next technique for a similar yet preferred method).

4.  L-sleeve: welded along the left side and bottom edge (in the shape of an “L”).Lsleeve

  • Alternative technique to the U-sleeve for storing parts that may require future handling.
  • An L-sleeve can be welded to one side of an encapsulated page binding with an ultrasonic weld after the L-sleeve is created.
  • For thicker materials, an additional small weld along the bottom right edge is helpful to prevent materials from sliding out of the sleeve when the page is turned.

5.  Spot welds: heat or ultrasonically welded

  • Technique used to hold materials in place and prevent them from sliding within an encapsulation

spotweld

6. Thin overlapping attachments

  • Overlapping parts that need to be kept in a specific composition can be carefully removed from the page by a conservator and individually encapsulated.  The encapsulated components can then be welded to the upper sheet of the polyester page using a variety of techniques to preserve the original orientation.
  • Using these techniques allows access to all the components on a page that would otherwise be inaccessible in a traditional encapsulation, and keeps the author’s intended composition.
  • Parts must be oriented and welded to the upper sheet of polyester before creating the finished encapsulated page, i.e. before encapsulating the lower sheet of polyester to the upper sheet.

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7.  Hollytex hinge

  • A strong synthetic hinge (made from spun-bonded polyester) that is welded to the clear polyester sheets with ultrasonic welding.
  • Useful for easily viewing the front and back of  overlapping parts or loose bits.

Detail of Hinge

hollytex

Overlapping Components, Before Treatment:

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

Hinged Overlapping Parts, After Treatment:

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

8. Paper Hinge

paper hinge_1     paper hinge2_1

  • Usu Mino tissue is welded in between two sheets of polyester
  • The extended Usu Mino hinge can then be brushed with paste and adhered directly to a paper leaf.
  • Useful in other applications, for example preserving loose components in paper textblocks, such as pressed flowers or handwritten notes.

9. Polyester four flap attachment

  • For small but thick objects
  • To secure thin components with multiple parts on top of an encapsulated page while still allowing full access

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10. Paper spacers

  • Strips of acid free paper can be placed within an encapsulation to prevent smaller components from moving within larger encapsulated pages.
  • The paper space holders are visually pleasing so the viewer is not distracted by the page below.
  • Static holds thinner sheets in place
  • Thicker textblock leaves may need to be spot welded in-between the document and the paper strip

paperSpacer

11. Stiff support leaf with cloth hinge

  • To support heavy page encapsulations AND/OR include heavy components in pockets on a strong page within the binding
  • Constructed out of 2-ply mat board, PVA, and Canapetta cloth

Before Treatment:

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.orgAfter Treatment:

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

12. Stiff flyleaf to support encapsulated pages when laying open

  • Constructed out of 4-ply mat board, PVA, and Canapetta cloth
  • The stiff flyleaf contains a smaller hinge than the interior support leaves

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

THE PRESERVATION LAB: A collaboration between the University of Cincinnati and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Object Institution & Library: PLCH CALL #: 977.178092 ffH966Zh 1938 SUBJECT: Althea Hurst scrapbook, 1938 - documents the journey of four Cincinnati school teachers - took a trip to Canada, Nortern Europe, Germany, Eastern Europe, and France. Scrapbook filled with photographs, brochures, notes and other ephemera. DATABASE ID: 1015 ITEM #: i83079427 TREATMENT ID: LIGHTING: EcoSmart 27-Watt (100W) Full Spectrum Craft CFL Fluorescent with sock diffusers FILTER(s): none COMMENTS: CREATOR: Jessica Ebert WEBSITE: thepreservationlab.org

*Bonus Experimental Technique:

13. Welding polyester film to Vivak

  • Even the cover contained an attached component!
  • As per a request by the curator, the original cover was incorporated into the new binding with reversible methods.  The original cover was hinged into a sink-mat package that was sandwiched between a cloth covered mat and a sheet of Vivak.
  • After a bit of experimenting, a polyester L-sleeve was ultrasonically welded to the Vivak “pastedown” so the original arrangement could be preserved

Before Treatment & After Treatment:

i83079427_1015_A04N i83079427_1015_D04N_pastedown

  • A flyleaf of polyester film was hinged onto the “pastedown” to protect the attached component from being abraded by the edges of the textblock leaves:

IMG_1149

Two volumes, after treatment:

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Final challenge:  How to manage the scrapbook’s large treatment effectively and efficiently.

To read about our collaborative treatment workflow, please see the next upcoming installment: Polyester Encapsulated Page Binding *Part Three: The Workflow.

Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH) — Conservator, Conservation Lab Manager

Pleasures of (Recomposing) the Text

Lucy Schultz, a volunteer with the collaborative preservation lab since June of 2009, has just published a reflection on working with her hands in the service of repairing books.  Lucy is a UC scholar of composition history and an emerita faculty member.  We are so grateful for her work (and her mention of the lab)!

Find the article at your library today!  UC staff, faculty, students, and affiliates can view the article by following the link from http://aj2vr6xy7z.search.serialssolutions.com/?V=1.0&N=100&L=AJ2VR6XY7Z&S=AC_T_B&C=composition+studies.

Cover of composition Studies.

Cover of composition Studies.

Title page of composition Studies.

Title page of composition Studies.

 

 

 

Fun with PhotoDoc – Edition 1

Since I am the conservation technician who carries out most of the photographic documentation in the lab I think that pretty much all PhotoDoc is fun.  With all the different tools in the toolbox it really doesn’t get much better than when you get to bust out the ultraviolet radiation to reveal something that is otherwise not so obvious under normal illumination (like a stain, handwriting, etc.).  And then when you can transform those normal and UV before photos into a gif…well, that just makes for a fun Friday, if you ask me!

classphoto_uv_gif

This photograph is part of the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions collection and arrived in the lab with the original glass broken and partially attached to the photo. It is obvious under normal illumination that the photograph endured some kind of spill or water damage, but under UV florescence you can better make out the path that the water or perhaps beverage created and even note splotches of possible mold damage (which flourese purple).  Now that’s it’s photographed I’ll turn it over to Ashleigh, our conservator, to determine what’s happened to this poor thing and the best course of action when it comes to treatment and storage.

Jessica Ebert (UCL) – Conservation Technician

Digital Print Crash Course

Digital print poster

Digital print poster

For 3 days in late October I joined a group of 15 conservation and archive professionals from as far away as Germany, Mexico City and the Northwest Territories of Canada for the “Identification and Preservation of Digital Prints” workshop at the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

We learned about what curators might consider to be digital prints, what types of digital prints can be found within a collection, what their greatest vulnerabilities are, and how to differentiate between them. The workshop focused predominantly on the three most common types of digital prints: dye-sublimation prints, created through a process which uses heat to impregnate a surface with color; electrophotographic prints, which use toner-based colorants; and inkjet prints. We also discussed the best types of enclosures for storage, and how to use naming conventions to help collection curators and conservators identify these objects so as to best house, store, conserve and exhibit them.

Dye-sublimation prints are the least common of the three main types. The analog version of the process was invented for the textile industry and the digital version continues to be used to print images on fabrics as well as photo gifts like mugs. It doesn’t require liquid chemicals so it’s also popular for ID photos, photo booths, and instant photo kiosks in drugstores.  Generally speaking they can be stored and handled using the same guidelines as chromogenic prints as their vulnerabilities are similar. Light can cause fading over time, very high heat can cause bleeding. Most importantly though, while the clothes and mugs are obviously washable, the photos can delaminate in water, as shown below.

Dye-sub delamination

Dye-sub delamination

Almost everything printed on a copier or a laser printer is an electrophotographic print. They are ubiquitous in the documentation surrounding cultural heritage collections, if not in the collections themselves. The printing process is similar to that of photocopiers, though nowadays the image comes from a stored digital file rather than creating a photographic reproduction of an image. These kinds of prints are fairly stable. Though they can sometimes transfer with heat, or crack or abrade, their greatest vulnerability is the paper they are printed on, which can be almost any type of paper imaginable. In general they should be handled and stored the same way photocopies are stored and handled.

Inkjet prints show up as documents and ephemera as well as in the form of photographs and fine art prints. They can be made up of a broad range of papers and inks, many of them proprietary, which means it may be difficult to identify them accurately and their sensitivities to light, water, pollution, etc. can vary greatly. In general they are the most unstable of all the types of digital prints and therefore require the most care and attention for preservation efforts. We experimented to see how different inkjet prints responded to abrasion and exposure to water. From these tests we could see that even light friction or a tiny drop of water can be damaging to some types of inkjet prints. For a generalized approach to housing and storage of inkjet photos and art prints IPI recommends handling with gloves, using polyester enclosures and interleaving (paper enclosures can cause losses or burnishing), mounting with window mats, using UV glass when framing, and monitoring any exhibited prints closely throughout the exhibit. IPI’s handy mini-poster, Tips for Handling Inkjet Prints can even be printed out and included in enclosures.

Immersed inkjet print

Immersed inkjet print

It became very clear during this workshop that the term “digital print” can cover a dizzying array of objects. Curators, collectors and conservators like to have more specific descriptors for the media they are working with. For most purposes differentiating between electrophotographic, dye-sublimation, and inkjet prints in documentation is sufficient, but conservators in particular would benefit from even greater detail such as, “dye inkjet print on uncoated paper.” IPI strongly recommends that when new acquisitions are made a detailed document such as Martin Jurgens’ “Datasheet for Documentation of Digital Prints” from his book, The Digital Print: Identification and Preservation, be completed whenever possible.

Along with a very handy pocket microscope, digital print sample set, a color copy of the freely downloadable IPI Guide to Preservation of Digitally Printed Photographs, and a binder of the workshop’s Powerpoint presentations, IPI provided us with a tour of the online tools they have created. Their Graphics Atlas website, http://www.graphicsatlas.org/, is particularly useful for identifying different types of photographs and prints, and the DP3 (Digital Print Preservation Portal) website, http://www.dp3project.org/, is an excellent resource for information on preserving digital prints. While visiting I also purchased a copy of Meghan Connor and Daniel Burge’s book, The Atlas of Water Damage on Inkjet-Printed Fine Art, which I found informative. Seeing how a pocket LED work light like the Larry light could be used to generate different angles of light to help in print identification on the fly was extremely helpful too.

I can’t recommend this workshop highly enough. I learned a great deal over those three days in October. I am very grateful to the Image Permanence Institute, the Ohio Preservation Council, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, The Institute of Museum and Library Services, and my colleagues at The Preservation Lab for helping to make my attendance possible.

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) — Conservation Technician

Nineteenth Century Buddhist Religious Treatise

Palm leaf manuscriptIn August of this year, the Lab received a Palm leaf book from Archives and Rare Books library during one of our usual monthly meetings. This item was brought to the Lab to receive a new enclosure for a better long-term preservation storage and easier access. Along with a new enclosure, the Lab was asked to create two surrogates of one of the original Palm Leaves for classroom use.  Under the direction of Ashleigh Schieszer, lab conservator, technician Chris Voynovich constructed the housing working closely with Catarina Figuierinhas who created the surrogate leaves.

Palm leaf

Creating Surrogates

In order to create an accurate surrogate of one of the Palm leaves, the Palm leaf book was taken to the University of Cincinnati Digitization Lab to be photographed with a PhaseOne Reprographic System. This system includes 60 MP PhaseOne digital back, DT RCam with electronic shutter, Schneider 72 mm lens, and a motorized copy stand. At the digitization Lab, one of the Palm leaves was digitized, recto and verso. The collaboration between labs allows the Preservation Lab to obtain a great quality image of a Palm leaf to print a high quality surrogate.

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Once the Preservation Lab received an image with enough quality to work with, the process of creating a surrogate started.

In order to create a surrogate, it is important to have in mind several different aspects such as the purpose of the surrogate and the physical characteristics of the original object (texture, thickness and colors). When thinking about the purpose of the surrogate one has to answer questions such as: Is the surrogate going to be displayed or handled?  If so, how?  Behind a glass case? Will it need a presentation enclosure?

In this case, the purpose was for the librarian to be able to show a “real” palm leaf page without having to actually handle the original fragile leaves.  Also, having a surrogate of a palm leaf would allow patrons and scholars to handle a replica of an original object without having to unwrap and open the book.

Our goal was to create two surrogates; one in color, true to the original Palm leaf page; and _dsc1362another black and white, allowing the writing to be read easier.

Since we wanted to create a surrogate as identical as possible to the original, it was necessary to study the original object’s texture and thickness, as well as consider specific details such as gilt edges or punched holes.

The first step was to select several papers to test for printing.  Selected papers had a similar texture and thickness to the original Palm Leaf and/or were selected because they contained a handy ICC profile.

Once the papers were chosen for texture, thickness and color profiling, the image obtained from the Digitization Lab was enhanced in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 and several surrogate samples were printed using a P7000 Epson Printer pigmented ink jet printer.

Middle holes were punched with a Japanese hole punch.

Middle holes were punched with a Japanese hole punch.

Surprisingly, papers containing ICC profiles did not necessarily produce a more accurate color representation.

Finally, after several trials and errors, a different paper was chosen for each surrogate. The colored surrogate was printed on an archival UltraSmooth Fine Art Epson paper.  The black and white surrogate was printed on an acid-free Curtis Brightwater Artesian white smooth paper.

Edges of the colored surrogate were pained with iridescent gold acrylic paint.

Edges of the colored surrogate were pained with iridescent gold acrylic paint.

Once the surrogates were printed and cut to the exact dimensions, the final finishing touches were made. On both surrogates, the middle holes were punctured in the same fashion as the original palm leaf.  For the colored surrogate, the edges were colored with an iridescent gold Golden High flow Acrylic.  Once the surrogates were complete, the process of constructing an enclosure for both the surrogates and the original object began.

 

 

Constructing a new enclosure

I’ve heard the joy should not be in the finished product but in the process. I have to say I agree with that theory. I love receiving a challenge like this and pounding out a solution. This particular enclosure had many facets which turned out to be exciting as well as rewarding to problem solve together with lab staff.

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Using a structure engineered by our lab conservator, first, I created a double-sided sink mat with two open windows to display both sides of the two surrogates.  Rare earth magnets were introduced as fasteners to hold the objects secure inside each mat. The surrogates are supported and viewable through a Vivak and polyester transparent L-sleeve, which is removable.   The Vivak and polyester sleeve was welded together on the lab’s Minter ultrasonic welder.

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Volara supports were constructed to cradle the book so the gilding would not touch any abrasive surfaces, and so there would be a support for the cover once opened. The surrogates help provide information to patrons without causing wear and tear on the fragile book through handling. Originally, we considered storing the surrogates in a tray below or above the book to conserve shelf space, however by arranging the mats next to the object, they could immediately be on display when the enclosure is opened.  I am pleased with the outcome.  It is now possible to enjoy all the parts of this amazing work within the enclosure itself while minimizing the opportunity for damage, as well as providing a “wow!” factor.

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Final enclosure with the original palm leaf book and surrogates.

Catarina Figueirinhas (UCL) — Senior Conservation Technician

Ashleigh Schieszer (PLCH) — Book and Paper Conservator

Chris Voynovich (PLCH) — Conservation Technician

Photo credit:  Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician