The King James Bible is Finished!

The front board was reattached, after sewing back in the loose sections using an aerolinen flange backed with hahnemuhle. A piece of toned leather was then adhered to the inside of the spine, and to the boards. I was able to very slightly lift the original leather along the joint so that the new piece should slide underneath. Then the leather was turned in at head and tail.

There were a few more areas of paper repair to finish, and a bespoke corrugated board box lined with plastazote was made. The box included some small fragments of the text that I couldn’t find places for, as well as the documentation and handling guidelines.

Bible before treatment.

Bible before treatment.

Bible after treatment.

Bible after treatment.

Textblock after Treatment

Textblock after Treatment

Textblock before treatment.

Textblock before treatment.

Wooden Board Infilling pt. 2

So, I’ve found some spare wooden boards in the studio that have perfect woodworm holes to practice on.

I’ve also spoken with the Objects Conservator at The Royal Cornwall Institute – Laura Radcliffe about how best to go about the infills, she’s given me some good pointers, and I’ve followed her instructions with some changes or tweaks…

Area #1 to be filled. Before treatment.

Area #1 to be filled. Before treatment.

Area #2 to be filled. Before treatment.

Area #2 to be filled. Before treatment.

First of all, I’ve primed the area to be filled with the 10% Paraloid solution, by flooding the tunnels and holes, making sure all the walls are covered to prevent any of the infills seeping into the surrounding wood. I did this twice, just to make sure.

Area #1 with 1 coat of 10% Paraloid.

Area #1 with 1 coat of 10% Paraloid.

Area #1 with 2 coats of Paraloid.

Area #1 with 2 coats of Paraloid.

Notice that it really discolours any leather that it comes into contact with.

Area #2 with 2 layers of 10% Paraloid.

Area #2 with 2 layers of 10% Paraloid.

I then made up a mixture of the micro balloons, with two drops of burnt umber acrylic ink (Daler Rowney). At this point it’s like flour, and adding the paint doesn’t seem to do anything – you can’t mix it up.

Using small metal pots (or glass or ceramic, but not plastic) pour out a little of the 40% Paraloid, and add the micro balloons and acrylic slowly, stirring all the time. For the first test I made up a thick putty-like mixture:

Putty-like mixture.

Putty-like mixture.

This I scraped onto the boards with a small spatula, pressing it down into the holes – like using Polyfilla. It did not look great, and the solvent evaporated so quickly that it became really stringy and difficult to work – sticking more to the spatula than the wood.

Filling holes with the putty-like mixture.

Filling holes with the putty-like mixture – area #1.

So I thinned it down, by adding a splash at a time of the 10% Paraloid solution, until the filler was the consistency of double cream. This needs constant stirring, as the mix tends to separate into the balloons on top and the solvent underneath – kind of like a horrible scum/foam!

Thinner filler mix

Thinner filler mix

Using the pointy end of the spatula, I was able to dribble this mix into the areas to be filled, agitating slightly to make sure of an even coverage. Leaving the filler raised above the surface of the wood to be sanded/cut down later.

Area #2, filled with the thinner mix.

Area #2, filled with the thinner mix.

When semi-dry, I was able to scrape off the top layer, so the fill was about level with the surface of the board, and then re do the process after it had completely dried, as the fill had shrunk very slightly. The end results of both areas #1 and #2 were sanded down with fine grit sandpaper.

Area #2 after treatment.

Area #2 after treatment.

Area #2 after treatment.

Area #2 after treatment.

Area #1 after treatment.

Area #1 after treatment.

Area #1 needed some further fills after sanding down, as there were still some voids. I did this with the thinner mixture, and sanded again afterwards.

Area #1 after second treatment.

Area #1 after second treatment.

This type of treatment has worked really well for these small holes, I have yet to experiment with the solvents (ethanol/acetone) to remove the filler residue from around the holes. But if that works, then the fills can be tidied up a lot easier, and will cut down on the amount of sanding the fills need.

Wooden Board Infilling pt. 1

I’m currently working on a few large bindings, one of which has wooden boards that have become a feast for woodworm. All along the joint edge where I’ve uncovered the board by removing the previous deteriorated red rotten reback leather, there’s evidence of quite a lot of insect damage. The wood has become crumbly and needs to be strengthened, consolidated and filled before the boards can be reattached to the textblock and it has a new re-back.

Joint Edge of Back Board

Joint Edge of Back Board

After some research and consultation with PZ trainee Gwendoline (who has infilled wood in a previous project) I decided that the wood should be consolidated with Paraliod B72 before being filled. This will prevent seepage from the infill into the wood and reduce any damage from the infill material.

To make up the Paraloid solution you will need:
–  a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid, large enough to take 100ml solution
– an accurate measuring flask
– an accurate set of scales
– Paraloid B72 ‘beads’ (suppliers below).
– Acetone
– Ethanol
– cheesecloth
– string
– permanent marker
– extra jam jar.

To make up a 10% solution follow these instructions:

– Weigh out 10g of Paraloid and fasten into a bag using the cheesecloth and string.

10g Paraloid

10g Paraloid

Paraloid and cheesecloth

Paraloid and cheesecloth

Paraloid in cheesecloth 'bag'

Paraloid in cheesecloth ‘bag’

– pour 100ml water into your clean glass jar and mark off where the liquid comes to with a  marker. Then pour out the water and dry up the jar.

100ml marked off.

100ml marked off.

-Measure out 85ml of Acetone and pour into a seperate clean jar. The measure out 15ml of Ethanol and pour into the same jar.

– Place the bag of Paraloid into the clean jar and then carefully fill up with the Ethanol/Acetone mix to the marked line and discard the rest.

– Lift up the bag so it’s suspended in the sovent leaving the string dangling outside and then screw up the lid tightly.

Paraloid suspended in solution.

Paraloid suspended in solution.

– Leave to dissolve overnight, then discard the cheesecloth and string, squeezing out whilst wearing gloves.

Pulp Infilling for Boards

As a continuation of the Bible project, I’m going to dedicate a post specifically to preparing and using paper pulp for infilling the loose board, along the joint edge. At the end there’s a list of suppliers.

Board edge before

Board edge before

First, I removed all the cruddy adhesive from along the joint, without the addition of any moisture – this meant that small bits of the board came away too, and also I made sure that I removed any bits that were weakly attached.

Then I split the board, not much – only by about 5-7mm, and inserted pieces of thick Hahnemuhle paper (180gsm). Several pieces were easier to handle than one strip. Theses were adhered into the split with a thick and dry WSP, and pressed lightly between thin sheets of plastazote (as we have no felts in the studio). This will be used to support the pulp.

Split board with Hahnemuhle.

Split board with Hahnemuhle.

Then – to prepare the pulp. We’ve got a few sheets of paper pulp in the studio which Lizzie got when she went on one of Alan Buchanan’s courses, however, I’ve found some that’s supplied to be used for leaf-casting from PEL.

Paper Pulp Sheet

Paper Pulp Sheet

Tear this up into small pieces and soak for about 20mins in water, then drain and replace water with thinned paste, and then leave to soak for another 20mins, the pieces will have swelled, and now be saturated with paste.

Torn pieces in water.

Torn pieces in water.

Torn pieces in thin paste.

Torn pieces in thin paste.

Prime the areas to be filled with a smooth WSP (un-thinned) and then squeeze out the excess moisture from small amount of pulp at a time. I like to take some out and leave in a tea strainer over the main tray – then use this to get rid of any excess water/paste. Then work small amounts along the edge of the board, making sure to press into the contours, and smush it together as much as possible, don’t worry about going outside your guide lines, as it can all be trimmed and sanded later. Smooth down the pulp infill with a finger, squidge down some blotter (over holytex) to remove some excess moisture, and leave to dry, possibly for a day and night (this one is still damp the next morning) . The pulp will shrink, and this process may need to be repeated a few times before there’s enough to work with.

First infill - still very very wet.

First infill – still very very wet.

Once you’re happy that there’s enough pulp (it may be a good idea to put too much on just in case), and that it’s completely dry you can start shaping it.

Trim back the paper support and the infill if necessary, then, using fine grit sand paper to smooth out the lumps and bumps – however, since the pulp is made of pieces of paper, rather than actual mush, the infill itself will turn out a bit lumpy. Sand down the board edge so it’s straight, and round the corners and edges making sure the faces and edges are even and as smooth as possible.

Infill after 2 layers of pulp, trimming, sanding and shaping.

Infill after 2 layers of pulp, trimming, sanding and shaping.

I would then recommend that the infill was covered with a toned piece of Japanese paper to blend it into the board – and this will even out the lumpy nature of the pulp a bit further. I had a piece of 25gsm that had been toned (with acrylic inks) for a previous project that was perfect – so I used this.

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and Voila! Infill is done – more pictures to follow when I come to reattach it, once we’ve figured out how!

Any questions or comments welcomed, and I’ll do my best to answer you.

Pulped Paper – https://www.preservationequipment.com/Store/Products/Conservation-Materials/Paper-$4-Board/Paper-Pulp

Montefiascone

I’m very chuffed to announce that I’ve been awarded some money from Conservation by Design through the Nicholas Hadgraft Scholarship, to go to the Montefiascone summer school. I’ll be attending the week-long workshop lead by  Senior Conservator Anne Hillam on semi-limp parchment bindings.

Montefiascone_panorama

The summer school was developed in 1992 after a long running conservation project. The Montefiascone Conservation Project was originally conceived in order to save the virtually derelict library of the Seminario Barbarigo. This late medieval library contains not only the collection of Cardinal Barbarigo, but also other important books including some unique editions. This library is important to the history of the town, and is especially relevant to those interested in the history of the book.

In 1992 a programme of summer schools was established, and this continues to run in parallel with the library project. The classes provide an opportunity for librarians, conservators, cataloguers, bibliographers and those interested in the history and conservation of books, to assemble once a year to study one or more of the four, week-long courses. Many new acquaintances and friendships have been established as a result of these meetings, and knowledge and skills have been generously disseminated by masters in the field.

 

So, needless to say, I am really really looking forward to my trip to Italy, and staying in this beautiful town, and working in the Seminario each day!

4725802-Continuing_my_love_affair_with_Italian_piazzas_Montefiascone

 

These are of course, not my photos – and were found through Google.

 

 

King James Bible. 1630. Paper and board repair.

The book of common prayer, along with the loose first section were removed from the textblock, after it was decided that the front board should also be removed. This provided a small amount of access to the spine of the text-block, and meant that the damaged joint edge of the front board could also be treated. The leather along the crude stitching was already so broken, that it only need a small amount of persuading before it came free. The joint edge of the board was then humidified with a damp blotter/Sympatex sandwich, and flattened.

Front board joint edge before treatment.

Front board joint edge before treatment.

Front board joint edge after humidification and flattening.

Front board joint edge after humidification and flattening.

The thick layer of adhesive along the front joint proved problematic, as we were unsure what it was. It did not soften in water or various solvents (acetone, isopropanol or methanol), but it did have to be removed – as it was severely restricting the flexibility of the front joint. We decided that the mechanical method was the most effective, and the residue was chipped and scraped off. After some consultation with the Leather Conservation Centre, bitumen was ruled out as an adhesive, since it wasn’t slightly tacky. A sample of the adhesive was sent to the Conservation department at Camberwell College of Art for FTIR testing, which concluded that it was protein based – suggesting that once upon a time it may have been an animal glue. We still don’t have a definitive answer. We would welcome any suggestions though!

Adhesive along the outer joint, before.

Adhesive along the outer joint, before.

Adhesive remove from the outer joint.

Adhesive remove from the outer joint.

Before any repairs could take place, the loose leaves and first section had a poultice of WSP applied to remove the thick layer of animal glue along the spine edge. This freed up the pages, enabling them to be humidified in a cedar wood cabinet. Some pages were washed, to give them added strength. None of the pages were lined, although in hindsight, this may have been a better option, as a large percentage of the pages needed to be covered anyway for the repairs.

Poulticing the spine folds.

Poulticing the spine folds.

After the animal glue was removed, two stitched pamplets were discovered. Unfortunately they had been incorrectly collated, and after discussion with the owner, it was decided that they should be repaired back into the correct order. This meant that the prayer book was now in the correct order, and was only missing 2-3 pages.

Uncovered stitches

Uncovered stitches

Paper reapirs were carried out using a toned (with acrylic inks) 6gsm Japanese paper on the verso, adhered with Cellugel. Using Cellugel was prefered as it did not add any moisture that could cockle the very thin paper or affect any iron all ink present (the pages with iron gall in weren’t washed or humidified), it also dries very quickly; greatly reducing treatment time, and could be applied through the tissue without damaging it.  Infills were completed using a toned (with acrylic inks) 16gsm Japanese paper adhered with a 5% gelatine adhesive.

Paper repairs, after.

Paper repairs, after.

The damaged map (pictured below), was slightly trickier to repair as it didn’t have a corresponding section to wrap around and therefore couldn’t be spaced accuratly. Instead, I used the adjoining section as a gauge and kept the two sides of the map in place using paper clips. There were fragments of the map stuck in the gutter, and the jigsaw approach was employed and then spaces were filled with toned 16gsm japanese paper.

Damaged map before treatment.

Damaged map before treatment.

Damaged map after treatment.

Damaged map after treatment.

Next step is to sew back in the loose sections. Check back soon!

King James Bible. 1630. Introduction.

This fantastic project came to PZ from a private client via Graham Bignell in London. It is an early edition of the King James bible, with an additional book of common prayer and biblical family trees.

IMG_9871

At some point in its life its had lots of previous repairs; patches – sewn and pasted, new brass plates, an over back, and a very crude board reattachment. The front joint repair was particularly interesting: presumably, after the insertion of the prayer book and accompanying pages, the front joint has failed, but rather than just the leather splitting, the board has broken as well. The board was then reattached with large stitches and the application of a thick layer of insoluble adhesive.

IMG_9868

The spine is also severely distorted, and a large amount of animal glue has been squeezed down into the void between the text-block and the spine leather to keep it all together, restricting the flexibility of the text block, and creating more problems along the front joint.

IMG_9861

The first few sections of the text-block are suffering from various types of paper damage, including losses, tears, creases as well as being stuck together with large amount of animal glue.

IMG_0577

After speaking to Fred Bearman, a bindings historian about the provenance of the binding, and discussing treatment options, a detailed condition report was assembled, as well as various treatment options. It is a family bible, and the blank pages have been used to record an extensive family tree, so these were the areas that would need to be accessed, requiring the binding to be opened and used.

Therefore the front joint needed to be addressed, as well as the state of the paper throughout the binding. There was nothing to be done about the shape of the spine, since the binding would have to have been pulled to access the spine, and this was considered far too interventive.

 

The main issues to tackle through treatment were:

  • Weak and damaged pages at beginning and end of textblock.
  • Poor opening characteristics, especially the front board.
  • Severe damage to front joint.
  • Split and broken front board.
  • Textblock break.
  • Damage to oversize tipped in page.
  • If possible – reduce the thick layer of adhesive in the spine hollow.

 

Treatment has just begun, so check back for progress updates and photos.