To trim or not to trim. Is that the question?
A book conservator deals with main ethical considerations. Sometimes because of the customer desire's, and most of the time seeking an equilibrium between preservation and functionality. To top it up, we expect the result to be pleasant as well: not too new, not too worn; most original, but not too weak...
Rare is the case when we find a salomonic solution that satisfies all the requirements.
I guess a conservator is not the type who cuts the gordian knot, but rather one who tries to unlock it no matter how painful that is!
Christmas angels currently at ICU in serious condition. Diagnosis: chronical humidity, binding dislocation, a variety of infections and rodent attack.
Prognostic is optimistic because a high level team is taking good care of them. Soon they'll be bright and happy as Larry, just like in this year's Christmas greetings.
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"Tony, Tony, come around, something’s lost and can’t be found!"
Some manuscripts require more than just manual skills to succeed in their conservation, and so we prayed to Saint Anthony to help us unlocking the bookbinding, whose key had been lost forever. Certainly not many renaissance bookbindings have an iron safety lock in their covers and thus this extra holly help was deemed quite necessary. The prayer didn't provide any key, but at least a satisfactory conservation solution was achieved!
The headband to a book is like the tie to a suit: they both give their owner the chance to stand out. It is like the icing on the cake of the binding, and gathers the bookbinder's proficiency and taste. We'll discuss their aspect like in a Vanity Fair, and go beyond: What are they meant for? and why stuck-on headbands are less cared by conservators than sewn ones? Should we replace them or conserve them?
The untrained eyes will look at them with more interest now, because -just like ties- there are headbands for all tastes!
A personal story, a historic manuscript, a crazy laminating machine and a final outcome. We'll discuss about synthetic polymers, sorts of laminations and encapsulation. All these ingredients are seasoned with PFTE, TFA, HFIP, PE, DMSO, PET... cling, dong and BOOM!... An explosive -but most irresistible- cocktail.
There are all sorts of projects, and when Mr. Goya knocks at the door, the red carpet is ready to receive him at the studio: Please, come in!
The Disasters of War by Francisco Goya arrived at the studio in a fairly intact condition, with its 80 etchings, corresponding to the very first edition (in later editions two more etchings were added, making a total of 82). This first one was edited in 1863, more than forty years after
Cambras, one of the most popular bookbinders from Barcelona, always welcomes me with a wide smile and a sarcastic look. Smiles turn to laughter when we get down to our issues:
-But... you are not pasting the spine of my book with PVA glue, are you?!
I ask him while my eye seeks for his secret library...
Terrorists do not always carry explosives or mallets, nor they come from overseas, it may even be people in charge of collections. We ought to deal with them to safeguard "smart books": books intelligently made, such that no material interfere with each other, on the contrary, they create formidable synergies. Each one has its peculiarities, its beauty and its function. They represent a compendium of technology, art, society and culture at the time and place in which they were created.
Are we supposed to fear bibliopaths? Or maybe we should give them an award? Who are they? Atention! Because they can be among us, or we might even be one of them?! I invite you to read the Case of the Lacquer Binding to know more about them
Foxing is mould... or not?
One of the main concerns in archives and libraries is the presence of mould. Not surprisingly: it develops without fanfare, and when it is detected, an irreversible loss of information might have taken place. Before pulling your hair out, you should identify whether the symptoms actually reveal fungal activity, or not. Not an easy assessment.
Wrinkles and folds are a usual damage in documents made of paper, cloth or parchment. The common way to restablish these supports to its original condition is by pressure: under weights or in a press.
When the paper has a relief which must be preserved, it is then not possible to use pressure, as it would smash this relief.
Flattening under tension may be an interesting alternative on certain occasions or when a selective flattened is needed. It takes advantage of the natural shrinkage of the paper when going from wet to dry, so that the tension is given by the same paper.
Led by Luis Crespo and Arsenio Sanchez, restorerss in the National Library, we visit the fascinating world of book illuminated miniatures, choir books, manuscripts ...
Latest technological resources, ancient tradition, and above all their experience and knowledge, allow the recovery of these bibliographic jewels exhibited now at the National Library of Spain.
I don’t like much having war books, but I must admit that this one is particularly beautiful. The velvet binding seemed to me a challenging issue on the restoration, which did not have major complications besides this.
I show the restoration of this book because of the headaches it has given me when solving the lost areas, the wooden work. The considerable losses on a laborious woodcarving work, and the lack of originals of many of the missing pieces fairly complicated the subject (the shields on the corners were different).