Los Angeles: Day One

Image

I am in Los Angeles for the ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ Expo. I write music and work for a music management company so I had to leave my happy haunts of northern California and wander down to LaLaLand. I am in town through Sunday.

I will post some updates on the Expo and food experiences here and let everyone know how things go.

I am staying at a hotel on Sunset, it was the closest place available for under $100 a night…the place is OK, but the good news is there is a lot of Thai restaurants in the area.

A Recent Book Find

La Cuisiniere

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got a booth at a book fair to sell some of my books. I did alright, covered my expenses at least. I did buy a book though…it’s hard to pass something cool up I guess…

This is a French cookbook from about 1900. The title is ‘La Cuisiniere des Menages’, which translates to  ‘The Cooker Cook of the House.  It is a great little book, 536 pages including the index. I am not very good with French, but this book is the whole method (1900’s style) of French cookery. It starts with kitchen terms, then goes into tools, butchering and then cooking. I will probably have to start learning some French now!

The book does need a little repair at the front hinge, just some cloth to hold the hinge together. Not a big deal, more of a conservation item than an actual repair.

Anyhow, here is the cover of the book. I may redraw this so I can print it out larger. Let me know what you think.

 

 

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:

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.

Back again, this time for good…

So I got super busy with stuff and my little blogging stuff fell by the wayside. I was in New York managing an ice rink for the holiday season. Lot’s of fun but I am sure glad to be back in the SF/Bay Area.

I will be posting more laser cutting projects, some cooking things and maybe some of the music projects I have been working on. I will also post a few notes on my New York experiences.

Thanks everyone for reading, I hope we all get to have a great 2014 without too much drama.

CHEERS!!

The Laser Cut Bird House

Image

Hi again! So I have worked with laser engravers for a long time. I got started because a friend opened a trophy shop and needed help to figure out how to run the machines and do layouts, etc. As with anything, you start to learn more and more about what you can do with a device the longer you work with it.

I started making boxes a few years ago, just simple clamshell pieces that could hold pens and desk junk. Then I started playing with decorations on the surface, making them look like they had basket-weave tops, etc. The next step was to make more complicated pieces. That is how I got to the bird house.

This is made with 1/8″ thick birch plywood and is cut out on an Epilog laser. I put details in such as shingles, siding and window frames that could be painted. The bottom of the house has tiny holes to allow for drainage. Everything snaps together with tabs and then you can glue it up and paint it however you like. I gave a few of these away and then sold some at craft shows.

If you like this and want to make one just drop me a line and I will send you the CorelDraw file.

THANKS!!