The Fix- Ultrasonic Welder Repair

August 14, 2013

  The Book Conservation Lab recently had a visit from bookbinder and inventor Bill Minter. Bill created the Ultrasonic Welder we use in the lab for encapsulating items.  Encapsulation entails sealing an item between two sheets of Mylar (an inert polyester resin.) The welder is particularly useful for encapsulating brittle, fragile items ensuring that information is preserved while allowing them to be handled.   Bill disassembled the motor unit, cleaned and oiled the machine and replaced several more »

The Fix – Edward Jenner’s Cure for Smallpox

July 17, 2013

When a book that had the impact of Edward Jenner’s An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae comes into the conservation lab we get fairly excited. This 1798 first edition, part of the Dibner Library, outlines the technique of infecting patients with the mild cowpox virus to create immunity from the highly contagious and often deadly smallpox virus. As a result of his findings Jenner is considered the father of immunology more »

The Fix – Le Chic Fashion Magazines

Eight Le Chic fashion magazines are currently patients in the Book Conservation Lab.  The magazines came to us from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library.  They date from the early 20th century and were published in Vienna, Austria. The fashions are reminiscent of the costumes seen in Downton Abbey or Mr. Selfridge!

The Fix – Andy Warhol’s Index Book

April 21-27 is Preservation Week! Preservation Week was created by the American Libraries Association to bring attention to preservation matters in libraries and to help the public maintain their own collections. In honor of this event, we will be featuring preservation-related content on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog as well as our other social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. We encourage you to join the conversation! And if you’re in the DC area, check out our free event on Wednesday, April 24th! The Conservation Lab received a very interesting patient from the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library recently.  The book is “Andy Warhol’s Index Book” designed by the artist in the 1960′s experimenting with the idea of the book as a work of art. 

The Fix – The Art of Simple Paper Repair

Paper repair is an elusively simple repair.  Using  wheat starch paste and Japanese paper we repair tears in paper in a manner that is flexible and reversible.  The trick to a good paper repair is select the proper color and weigh of repair tissue. 

The Fix – Let’s Talk Mold

  Moldy books are the bane of every book conservator’s existence.  They often appear in the lab after a water emergency or less than ideal temperature and humidity controls.  We are asked to “eliminate” the mold.  What we actually can do is make the mold dormant and clean it up.

The Fix – Bauhaus

The conservation lab received, from the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library, a first edition of the first Bauhaus exhibition catalog: Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar, 1919-1923.  In addition to being a rare copy of this catalog, it is inscribed to the painter Werner Drewes by his Bauhaus teacher, Wassily Kandinsky. The book was in disrepair with the covers detached.  A spine “replacement”  fashioned out of a piece of electrical tape had left tape residue on the Herbert Bayer designed cover. Additionally, the paper used for the catalog was highly acidic and discolored and the acidic clay coated plates were chipping.

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