Tag Archives: UCL collection

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

 

 

Saving the 70’s

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to dis-bind a bound edition of our school newspaper, send it off for digitization and then to create a clamshell box to house the single pages when they return. The process of dis-binding bound newspapers is a very delicate one. In this case, The News Record 1971-72, was no exception. Newspapers, by their very nature are meant to be read and thrown away. The paper they are printed on is not meant to last and it fades and becomes acidic and brittle very rapidly. The solution to preserving the paper’s information back in the early 70’s, before digitization was even a thought, was to bind a couple years’ worth of the News Record together in a hard cover much like a large book. This was a good method for preserving a piece of U.C.’s history, however the binding was meant to be permanent and no thought was given to reversing the process at a later date.

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librarylinks_AS&HPThe start of Fall has been a busy and productive time for the lab.  We’ve been engaged in workshop opportunities with the Ohio Preservation Council, have started training two new lab volunteers, and now we are in the news!  Check out two great articles from two great publications – the University of Cincinnati UC Magazine and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s LibraryLinks.

A conservator in Cincinnati

Moving from sunny California to the “most northern southern city, and the most eastern Midwest city,” A.K.A. Cincinnati, I’ve found that I love living in a climate with the change of seasons. In particular, one of my favorite sightings on the University of Cincinnati campus made me feel as though I was living in an page of an Andy Goldsworthy book! Just before this yellow ginkgo tree began to lose its leaves, the ground received a light autumn dusting of snow that whimsically highlighted the presence of the tree’s newly fallen leaves.

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It’s a clamshell box! with filler!

This blog explains how we construct an acid-free enclosure to protect a book that is too small to stand alone on a shelf.  The dimensions of the book in question are approximately 2” X 3”.  As a rule University of Cincinnati Libraries requires that all shelved items be at least 5” X 7”.

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The Rocque map of London 1749 – Transportation, Preservation, Installation and CELEBRATION!

Imagine a finely engraved map of London, circa 1749.  The map is comprised of separate sheets that are mounted 8 across and 3 down.  The 24 sheets are printed on cotton rag paper and mounted on coarsely woven linen.  The map has been repaired, mounted, and framed by professional conservators.  Though the conservation work was done over 20 years ago, the work is in-line with current best practices and the map has lovingly been cared for by the owners in the intervening years.

Lovingly cared for by Keith and Betty Stewart.  Paper signs stating " PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH" did the trick since 1996.

Lovingly cared for by Keith and Betty Stewart. Paper signs stating ” PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH” did the trick since 1996.

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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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