Category Archives: Objects

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

 

 

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

We love artists’ books!

While all the books, documents, and objects that we receive in the lab are interesting and exciting, artists’ books are definitely a crowd favorite, especially amongst the technicians. When Holly and Ashleigh come back from the PLCH rare books meeting and announce they’ve brought back some artists’ book we all get a little excited and know that there are probably some fun cloth covered clamshell boxes in our future. Last week when the techs met with Ashleigh, our conservator, to discuss upcoming projects there was quite a bit of oohing and ahhing when she unwrapped and assembled the two artists’ book they had brought back to the Lab for enclosures.

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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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The Stereoscope

One of my favorite aspects of this job is learning about cool old stuff. I have just had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with stereoscopic images. In the process of surface cleaning and rehousing this project, I saw a lot of cool images and learned about the use of antique stereoscopes.

Antique stereoscopes, also known as stereopticons or stereo-viewers, were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A stereoscopic viewer is a special device that helps us see 2 mounted photographs as one three dimensional image. The way it works is a stereo-view slide is inserted into the viewing device, and the person viewing looks through the device while adjusting the distance of the slide. The slide is adjusted either closer or farther from the viewer’s face until it comes into focus. The two images appear as one 3D image to us when looking through the viewer because we are seeing two perspectives merge into one – not too different from the Magic Eye books that were popular in the 90’s filled with stereograms. The two perspectives are taken with a special camera that has two lenses that mimic how we see the world through two eyes. The lenses are spaced slightly apart, roughly similar to the distance of our eyes.

Cool huh?

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Adhesive Man!

Many times as I am performing tasks at the bench I begin to concentrate deeply on the materials, the tools, the work itself or a number of related subjects. Sometimes my imagination kicks in and I go to a completely weird place inside my head… One time I was removing the adhesive beneath a failed scotch tape repair and I began to roll the adhesive, testing its elasticity between my fingers before discarding it into a pile. I thought to myself, “this stuff has potential” and “it seems to have a life of its own”. Well, as I carefully stacked the discarded adhesive balls, they began to take shape… That was the beginning of Adhesive Man. I am strangely confident he will make future appearances around the Lab.

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Chris Voynovich (PLCH) —- Conservation Technician

An “earie” object to have in the Lab…

Recently we received an unusual item from the University of Cincinnati’s Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions:  a prosthetic ear dating to the mid 1950’s accompanied by a small photograph and newspaper clipping depicting the patient modeling the false ear.  Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, the ear we received in the lab was a primary model used to construct the actual prosthetic, so it would not have been worn regularly by the patient.  I have to admit this is one of the more gruesome items I’ve come across in a conservation lab.  Not because it’s a prosthetic ear, but more so because improper housing and storage conditions led to deterioration which gave the ear a very bumpy almost wart-like surface appearance…and it looks so real…

The ear and its original housing materials.  The photograph and clipping were stored in the yellow envelope.

The ear and its original housing materials. The photograph and clipping were stored in the yellow envelope.

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