ASCAP Meeting Wrap Up

Los Angeles is a cruel mistress...I finished up the ASCAP event this weekend. I have to admit I was pretty skeptical going in. I have attended other expos and conventions for different industries and they are usually just non-stop marketing. The ASCAP event was a little different though; yes, there was still a lot of marketing going on but there was a lot of really great educational events too.

One of my favorites was by Ralph Murphy, a song writer and producer from Nashville. His presentation was full of humor and useful information. I got a chance to chat with him briefly and he was a real, down to earth fellow. I am looking forward to meeting and chatting with him again.

Overall the event was pretty positive. I did get a little claustrophobia in the hallways though. The sponsors had tables in the halls so things were a bit crowded for my taste. I think if they put the booths in a exhibit space it would be more comfortable. I have to talk to industry people as part of my job and it was hard to have a conversation with all the noise and jostling about.

The bottom line question is would I go back next year. I think I would, there was enough good information that it was worth the price of admission.

 

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.

The Melting Pot

Thai Food

When I first moved to San Francisco and was young and poor (now I am old and poor…) I used to eat pretty much every day at a little Thai restaurant called the Racha Cafe. I could get a plate of Spicy Basil Chicken with steamed rice for about $5.00. That was usually my big meal for the day.

There are lots of great flavors from Thailand. Curries, fish dishes, noodles…all delicious. So check it out: IT IS EASY TO CREATE GREAT THAI FOOD AT HOME!! All you need is a collection of the right flavors.

When you want to cook in a Thai style there are a few items to add to your pantry. First, a good fish sauce; I like Tiparos but there are plenty of good brands. Then get some Sri Racha or as we call it Racha sauce. You will also want fresh ginger, lemon grass (you can get ground up Lemon Grass in a jar or tube if fresh isn’t available), garlic and soy sauce. Another regularly used item is basil. Thai basil is best but if you can’t get that use regular basil and some fresh mint leaves too. I keep jalapenos in the fridge pickled in cane vinegar, just wash in hot water and slice before dropping them in.

THAI BASIL CHICKEN

My daughter’s favorite, easy to make and delicious.

Get boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut them into little cubes. Figure two thighs per person, but add a few for leftovers (you will want some for lunch). Brown the chicken in oil, I use canola but anything but olive oil will do. You may have to cook the chicken in shifts…

After the chicken is lightly browned, add some soy sauce and fish sauce. Figure about 4 to 1 soy vs fish sauce. I use around four tablespoons or so of liquid per 6 thighs but you will have to adjust to your own taste. BE CAREFULL WITH THE FISH SAUCE…the flavor will multiply as the liquid reduces. Stir in about 1/4 tsp each of ground ginger and ground lemon grass. You can put in a little garlic but it is not needed. I like my chicken a little more spicy so I will stir in a little Racha sauce to give a small bite.

At the end throw in your pickled jalapenos to taste and then one bunch of basil. Let the basil wilt and toss it in. Remove from the heat and serve over jasmine rice.

You can do this same basic recipe with beef, seafood or veggies. Just try using the these spices to add to your cooking bag of tricks.