Book Restoration Continued…Guarding Sheets

Elevation of Victorian home from ABH

Elevation of Victorian home from ABH

 

 

 

So our book has been sitting with baking soda for a week. I brushed off the soda, the pages don’t have the musty smell anymore! The next step will be to guard the pages and then repair tears. First I will guard all the pages and rejoin the two sheets that are split, then do repairs of the tears.

I started the process by cutting little strips of Japanese paper for the guards. They are 3/8″ wide and about the height of the text block. To speed things along I folded the paper over several times, then using my dividers I marked a strip. When I cut with my snap razor I got 6 strips at a time. I also cut some 1/2″ strips because a few sheets had much larger areas missing.

When I had the strips cut I took my time and pasted one strip to the outside of each sheet. There were a few sheets that didn’t need anything so I left those alone. There will be a fair amount of swelling anyway so if I could save some space I did it. This process took about 8 hours total for gluing and application.

Once everything was glued and dried I re-folded the signatures and have them under weight for a bit to compress the swell. Starting tomorrow I begin repairing tears. Once the tears are taken care of the sewing will begin. My goal is to have this book in boards by the end of next week.

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When I Grow Up

'When I Grow Up Stories' by Nancy Lee, 1921 'Policeman

‘When I Grow Up Stories’ by Nancy Lee, 1921 ‘Policeman’

 

 

So, a long time ago I bought these children’s books. They were the ‘When I Grow Up’ series, written by Nancy Lee and published in 1921 by Stoll and Edwards. There are four books in the series: Policeman, Fireman, Banker and Farmer. The stories are about what these four professions do and how the Little Jerry wants to grow up to be just like them.

I have had the books about 20 years now. They have been pretty   much just sitting on my shelf in plastic sleeves. One day I was looking for something to do on CorelDraw so I decided to draw the covers of the books using tools in Corel. As you can see by the original scanned image, the covers are a little rough. The Fireman book even has the top part torn away.

After scanning I brought the original into Corel then started tracing. I have used CorelDraw for a long time but I am still FAR away from being an expert, I would rated myself as and ‘Advanced Novice’. When I re-draw something I try to break it down into elements. For these pieces there is a black background and then colors laid over the top. I traced the outlines then worked with the node tool to line everything up. The tracing and adjusting took the longest, about 2 hours or so per image. It is funny how you get dialed in to working on something like this and you forget time.

When the tracing was done I started coloring in the images. Then using the diffuser I would give a fade to the edges of shading. The Fireman is still a work in progress, I need to add some more detail and finish off the image. I am pretty happy with the Policeman, he has a lot of the details and looks kind of stylized a bit. I think I will print this on a t-shirt or poster or something…

Anyhow, I will post all four covers once I get the project completed. I just started working on the Farmer and still need to wrap up the Fireman cover. Thanks again for reading, I hope this inspires you to go out and try tracing and painting your own vintage piece.

Have fun, and please feel free to comment or ask questions. Cheers!!

Book Restoration: It All Goes to Pieces

Title Page, ABH

Title Page, ABH

So I took the first step in the restoration of The Album of Beautiful Homes. I was a little bit nervous but once I jumped in everything seemed to go alright. I laid out my tools (Fig, 1) and got to work.

The first step was to remove the text block from the case. I did this by running a razor inside the cover to peel back the mull (Fig. 2 & 3). This was done to both the front and back cover.  Basically just a slice on the inside cover and then using the micro spatula to lift. Mull is just sort of a stiff cheese-cloth-like material that is attached to books and then used to attach boards by pasting end sheets over them.

Once the text block was free I worked to remove the mull from the pages. This was the most delicate job because there seemed to be extra glue from some older repairs so there were extra strong bonds in places. Going too fast might tear pages and either make for a LOT of extra work or destroy the book completely. Again, the micro spatula was enlisted to gently pull the mull away (Fig. 4 & 5). There were two places along the spine with big globs of some amber colored glue. It was really brittle so it may have been horse glue. Those areas took about 10 minutes each to get the mull off. I worked another several minutes on each area to get most of the glue off. There will be more to do but I need to decide how the final glue removal is to be completed.

After the mull was away and most of the glue residue was removed I took a few minutes to clean my table and then started the process of separating the signatures (sections). I used the spatula, razor, scissors and tweezers. I gently pulled each signature, one at a time, by moving the spatula from inside the text block outwards to the spine. I would locate the separation between the sections and lift. This required a lot of patience because there was extra glue in some areas. Once the glue/chemical bond was broken I cut the cords going to the next section down and lifted. When the section was free I opened it flat on the table and removed cord pieces and sewing thread. This process was repeated for each signature (Fig. 6, 7 & 8).

After separating all the sections I went on to removing the tape that was holding one of the pages (leaves) in place. The ‘repair’ was done with masking tape. Again, using the micro spatula, I gently worked the edges of the tape, putting more pressure on the tape than the paper of the book. I worked the spatula in a small area until that started to lift then I went a little further and eventually the tape came away (Fig. 9). There was a total of 3 pieces of tape, each piece took about 10 minutes to remove.

Now that everything was separated I was able to take a close look at the damage to the book itself. There are tears in some sheets at the head and tail, some of the pages are completely torn free and the edges of one page are damaged so badly that it will have to be re-formed with new paper laid over the damage to get it back to the correct dimensions. (Fig. 10 & 11).

The last step for this part of the project was to number the sections and then lay them flat to relax the sheets for further work. Using a pencil I numbered each section inside the gutter (fold) so they could be reassembled later (Fig. 12). After this I laid each sheet out flat, sprinkled on some baking soda to absorb some of the musty smell and stacked the sheets up. After the sheets were stacked I put my cutting mat on top with a couple of books to hold the sheets in place and slowly press the folds out (Fig. 13). I will leave the pages like this for 3 or 4 days before continuing on.

One of my original thoughts was to de-acidify the paper. Books printed in the late 1800’s used wood pulp and the acid content can cause pages to become brittle and fall apart. After researching the process I decided that this was too risky for this project. There is a potential of printing being damaged, pages might curl up and if the paper isn’t pressed and sized properly there could be irreparable damage to the pages. My goal with this project is to make the book serviceable and able to be enjoyed. At some later date if somebody wants to have the pages treated they can do it at their own peril.

Next time I will be guarding the pages and repairing damaged sheets prior to sewing up. Thanks for reading, as always feel free to comment or ask questions.

The Book Restoration Project Begins

Title Page, ABH

Title Page, ABH

So, I have taken a good look at The Album of Beautiful Homes’ it isn’t so beautiful…

Rather than just jump in, I decided to do an in-depth triage of the book. It is clear that this book was used by the original owner to build a house. There is a page that was removed, folded several times and then (thankfully) taped back in. There are pages with lots of edge wear, they are dirty, corners folded, gutters ripped, sewing loose.

When you first think about taking on a challenge like this, there is a bit of bravado. There is the belief that you will be able to handle the work, no worries. Well, after REALLY looking at this book, there are a lot of worries. But I am going to press on and get this book restored. It just might take more than a week…

Here is a list of things that will need to happen:

  1. Disassemble entire book
  2. Separate text block into individual pages
  3. Clean paper and de-acidify (books printed in the late 1800’s to today have a high acid content in paper)
  4. Repair tears and worn edges
  5. Guard gutter areas to strengthen sewing structure
  6. Re-assemble sections and sew
  7. Make a new set of boards and cover in appropriate cloth
  8. Replace end papers
  9. Mount restored text block in new case
  10. Build a slip case or clamshell box to protect book

I think those are all the steps, if I find more issues or other challenges I will update this. For reference I am using Edith Diehl’s Bookbinding, It’s Background and Technique, Cockerell’s Bookbinding and the Care of Books, Johnson’s Book Repair and Conservation and Greenfield’s The Care of Fine Books. I think all these titles are available on Amazon and AbeBooks.

Here are some photos of typical damage to the book:

Fun with Lasers: Another Project

Packard and Duesenberg magnets, cut from 1/8" birch plywood.

Packard and Duesenberg magnets, cut from 1/8″ birch plywood.

I did a show in Auburn, Indiana once at a flea market held during their big car show and auction week. I did some laser cut car models and other trinkets, but wanted something more. It had to be easy to do, grab the eye and not take up a lot of space in someone’s bag.

I had already been doing the Train Magnets, so I decided to do some Antique Car Badge Magnets. I didn’t want to run the risk of copyright infringement with current manufacturers, so I avoided Ford, Chevrolet, etc. The photo shows a couple of the magnets, I did a few other out-of-business badges. They all sold well.

I downloaded the badge images from the internet and traced them on COREL Draw. If you haven’t used COREL before, it is a standard program in sign shops and laser engraving companies.

 

Tracing in COREL is pretty easy, you just use the pencil tool to draw around the original piece, then using the shape tool you adjust your lines until they match the actual piece you are copying. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube for node editing with the shape tool. I prefer doing traces by hand versus using the trace tool in COREL, the trace tool just doesn’t do that good a job when you want to make a useable drawing.

Thanks for checking this out, as always if you want more info or the original files (if I have them) just drop me a line.

Great Lakes Weather Station

Laser Cut Weather Station, made from 1/8" birch plywood. Hand Painted.

Laser Cut Weather Station, made from 1/8″ birch plywood. Hand Painted.

I designed this Weather Station for a company in Fort Wayne, IN. I found out they went out of business so I thought I would share it here on my page. The weather station has a Thermometer, Hygrometer and Barometer. I don’t remember where they got the pieces but there are plenty of suppliers online. (I think they came from a California supplier.)

The map is in a 3-D layout, the lakes are designed with layers to give the feeling of depth. I built a box in the back to allow for the depth, it also makes room for the weather station parts to fit. You can see with the one element removed that I had holes in the back of the box. This allowed for humidity and temperature changes to be accurately read.

The piece was cut on a 100 watt Epilog laser. The material is 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood. The lake inserts are hand painted and the surface with the text is lacquered in a matte finish to bring out the wood grain.

I designed the border of the piece to have a sort of ‘Television’ shape. I wanted the piece to have a mid-century feel. I really like Art Deco and Mid-Century so those two themes tend to show up in a lot of my designs.

I don’t know if I have the original laser designs still, but if I do anyone is welcome to have them, just ask.

Refrigerator Magnet Train Set

IMG_1827 IMG_2085Another fun laser cut project. I made these magnets to sell at craft shows and they went really well. Can also be a nice gift for family, friends or clients. For a business you could put your customers name on the sides of the freight cars.

I did these in two styles, one was plain wood with lots of neat details and the other was done in a block style with primary colors. the painted set was sanded a bit to give them a worn appearance. For the plain wood set I added the oil tanker just to try doing the rounded edges and stuff.

Again, 1/8″ birch plywood on an Epilog laser.