Category Archives: Enclosures

Slipcase Race

One of the Lab’s big projects recently has been to help the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Library with preparations for a move of a large section of their collection’s rare books. Moves like this are a great opportunity to assess the condition of a collection, and to provide enclosures for more vulnerable materials so they are protected in transit and beyond. In this particular case the Librarian also requested the lab maintain visibility of the original books as much as possible.

There are quite a few vellum books in the Classics Library collection. Vellum bindings are generally pretty sturdy, but may become brittle over time. They can also expand and contract quite a bit more than other types of bindings, depending on the relative humidity where they are stored. The Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology has a fun time-lapse video demonstrating this effect – the book looks as if it’s haunted! Given time this expansion and contraction can cause distortion.

Hard-sided slipcases do make it possible to protect most of a book while keeping its spine decoration and information visible, but they are not generally a preservation go-to. They can abrade the edges and covers when pulling the book in and out, and they don’t usually hold up over time because it can be difficult to insert fingers around the book to pull it out if the case is tight, resulting in a broken box or, alternatively, damaged endcaps.

A soft-sided slipcase can work well for vellum-bound books. The vellum is smooth, so abrasion is not a concern. The flexible sides give a little when reaching fingers in to remove a book, so the box won’t eventually fail and there is no need to grab the book from its endcap, damaging it. The cloth allows the book to breathe and flex somewhat, while at the same time preventing it from expanding too far at the fore edge, and squeezing its neighbors.

With a deadline looming we needed to figure out a way to produce soft-sided slipcases quickly and easily. Our solution was to create a template in an Excel spreadsheet, allowing us to simply plug in the book’s measurements and know exactly what size to cut the cloth and where the creases need to be, without needing to have the book handy.

We measured several books where they were, then took the measurements back to the Lab, where we used the spreadsheet to make a handful of slipcases. I was holding my breath when the time came to unite them with their books. Much to my relief  they fit perfectly!

Check out this picture showing 4 vellum books – the one on the left was already housed in a hard-sided, cloth-covered, board slipcase, while the 3 on the right are in the brand new soft-sided cloth slipcases. The books are protected, but the spines are still visible. Win, win.

Now that we know it works it’s time to go ahead and make the rest of them!

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) – Conservation Technician

 

18th Century Poetry Pamphlets

This past April, during one of the UCL Special Collections meetings, the Lab received a new stabilization/housing project; a collection of Latin poetry pamphlets translated into German from 1830-1917.  This collection of 79 volumes is part of the Classics Library’s collection.  While the Lab will be treating and housing all 79 volumes, the collection is being brought to the Lab in small, manageable batches. The first batch received by the Lab were pamphlets bd.66 to pamphlets bd.79.

 

After consulting with the Lab’s conservator, each pamphlet was evaluated and treated individually. The condition of each pamphlet greatly varied; some pamphlets were in good condition, with only small tears along the outer joints of the paper cover. Other pamphlets were in poor condition, with missing covers, detached covers, split textblocks, torn or missing covers.

After the first batch of pamphlets was evaluated and treated, four stabilization treatment types were established for future batches.  According to the condition of the pamphlet, from good condition, fair condition, poor condition, to severe condition, each pamphlet received either no treatment, a minimal treatment, a minor treatment, a major treatment with stabilization though encapsulation, respectively. For future batches received by the Lab, the same treatments will be applied with small variations when needed.

 No treatmentFor any pamphlets in good condition do not require treatment, these pamphlets will simply be surface cleaned and receive a polyester film jacket.

Each image below shows an example of the treatments mentioned above.  Click on the photo to view the full size image:

 Fair condition/ minimal treatment: This group of pamphlets were in fair condition. There were minor tears on the cover that were mended.

Poor condition/minor treatment: This pamphlet was in poor condition. The  cover was torn and detached and the textblock was broken with loose gatherings.  The cover was mended and the textblock was repaired. The cover was reattached to the textblock.

Severe condition/ Major treatment – stabilization through encapsulation: This pamphlet was received in severe condition. The covers were detached from the textblock and showed major losses. The textblock was stapled and the staples had corroded overtime which stained the paper. The staples were removed and the textblock was sewn. The covers were encapsulated and sewn onto the textblock using Usu Mino tissue hinges.

Once the treatment of the first batch of pamphlets was concluded, the pamphlets were housed together in a custom made corrugated clamshell box with a clear spine. This model of a modified corrugated clamshell box will be used for the future batches of these pamphlets that the lab receives from the Classics Library.

Modified corrugated clamshell box with a clear spine.

Modified corrugated clamshell box with a clear spine.

At the moment, I am working on the second batch of pamphlets; pamphlet bd. 50-bd. 65. On this second batch most pamphlets are in poor condition. The covers are detached and some pamphlets have missing covers. However, the textblocks are in good condition.  Below you will find a sneak peak of this ongoing treatment.

Pamphlets bd. 43 – 49 – small portion of the second batch of pamphlets received by the Lab.

Catarina Figueirinhas (UCL) — Sr. Conservation Technician

Photographic Documentation:  Jessica Ebert (UCL) — Conservation Technician

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

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

 

 

Custom Collapsible Cradle in a Corrugated Box!

We have many occasions to use cradles.  Including, in the lab while working on delicate materials and for viewing the text of fragile bindings.  In an effort to create a new standard for the lab to store with a book, I revisited the construction of a collapsible cradle that fits inside a corrugated clamshell box.

View of clamshell when lid is opened:Corrugated Clamshell with Integral Cradle

Opening the cradle by lifting the cloth tapes:Corrugated Clamshell with Integral Cradle

Obtuse (left) and acute (right) arm openings are adjustable:Corrugated Clamshell with Integral Cradle

The integral cradle is removable for display! Corrugated Clamshell with Integral Cradle

 

I am intrigued by this integral cradle system for a few important reasons:

  • The cradle is custom fit for the individual book’s opening and is stored safely with the book in the corrugated clamshell so it won’t become lost.
  • The cradle can be made adjustable to accommodate the book’s special handling needs by adding in additional notches.
  • The cradle has a base, making it removable from the box. This enables diversity in placement of the supported book. For example, librarians can remove the cradle from the box for exhibition.
  • This system is light, yet durable.
  • This system is fast and easy to create.
  • This system can be shelved with other books making it easily stored and accessible.

 

Considering all the cradles I have made so far, this one is by far the easiest and fastest to complete!

For a “one size fits all” solution, check out our blog on Elizabeth’s Rideout’s Collapsible Book Cradle.

It has been fun to explore solutions for this support mechanism to strengthen our arsenal of weaponry in the war of conservation!

Chris Voynovich (PLCH) – Conservation Technician

We love artists’ books: the finished boxes!

You may recall that back in July I blogged about these two beauties that came to the Lab for custom enclosures.  They both returned to PLCH at the beginning of September in their custom enclosures, so I thought I’d share what type of enclosures we came up with to address all the fragile elements of these particular artists’ books. Continue reading

Score!

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has recently set a plan in motion to digitize a collection of music scores. But before they can be digitized, the scores need to cataloged at the item level so metadata can be added to the digital files that are uploaded to the Virtual Public Library. But first, they are traveling to the lab to receive stabilization, to improve legibility, and rehousing. There are more than 200 boxes in the collection, each containing fifty or more scores, so this will be an ongoing project for many months to come. Because there are so many, and the Library would like to have them digitized as soon as possible, the decision was made to keep the treatments minimal –enough to stabilize the materials and render them more legible but no more.

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Just Can’t Get Enough

For some of us here at the Lab it’s not enough to work with books all day, we even work with them in our spare time!

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County collaborates with the Cincinnati Book Arts Society every year to put on Bookworks, an exhibit celebrating the work of book artists. We’re thrilled that four staff members (we’ll always think of Pat as staff, no matter how long he’s retired!) have pieces in Bookworks XVI .

Pat Schmude’s leather-bound “Zombies,” made with techniques learned from bookbinder and conservator Jeff Peachey during a 2013 workshop at the Lab on Eigteenth-Century French Bookbinding.Zombies“The Red Door” is a piece Pat worked on over many years, adding a detail here and there when the inspiration came to him. All of us at the Lab fell in love with it. Don’t you just want to walk through that door and see what new world it takes you to?
RedDoorJessica Ebert’s “Curiosities Behind Glass” shows off the carousel form we learned during our December “fun day” to great effect.
Curiiosities Behind GlassAshleigh’s “Study of Impermanence of Early Contact Printing Photography” is research and binding skill rolled into one!ImpermanenceStudyShe also saved neat old spine linings she had to remove during treatments over her years as a student worker and turned them into a nifty and whimsical documentary for “Spines.”
SpinesMy own wee accordion book, “Wholehearted” uses techniques I learned for toning paper for treatments.Wholehearted
If you’re in the area check out the show in the Atrium at the Public Library’s Main Branch. It’s up from June 10th to September 6th, 2015.

Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) — Conservation Technician

Shrink-wrap, a tool in the toolbox

The Preservation Lab is lucky to have a lot of equipment.  One of our more interesting pieces is a shrink-wrap machine.  We bring the machine out about once a year when we have a fair amount of bound materials that meet the following criteria:

  • part of the general circulating collection;
  • an item with a history of little or low use;
  • brittle paper, making rebinding or repair impossible or too time consuming;
  • replacements are not available or prohibitively expensive considering use.

Before the retirement of Pat Schmude, a UCL conservation technician in the lab for 28 years, we brought the machine up so that he could remind us of all the special things we need to do to make it work optimally — all the things you just don’t find in a manual but you know from 20+ years experience.

And of course we did have a little fun…here is my coffee mug shrink-wrapped.  I’m trying to give it up…so far I haven’t broken the seal!

Shrink collage

Clockwise – The finished product; Pat Schmude and Ashleigh Schieszer; Ashleigh, Jessica Ebert, and Pat; the coffee cup in question; Ashleigh and Jessica; and Chris Voynovich.

Holly Prochaska (UCL) — Preservation Librarian

Housing the Public Library’s historic stained glass

When the original Main Library at 629 Vine Street opened to the public in 1873, three beautiful and intricate stained glass windows graced one of the reading rooms in the building. In 1955, when the building was demolished, the windows were sold at auction, later to resurface as part of the decor of the Old Spaghetti Factory on Pete Rose Way. After the restaurant closed to make room for Paul Brown Stadium, the Library purchased the windows and began making plans to return them to the Main Library for the appreciation and enjoyment of our customers and staff. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends and the Annabel Fey Trust Fund, the three windows have now been re-created and restored to their original glory and will be on permanent display in the Main Library.

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