Women’s History Month: Adelaide Alsop-Robineau and Keramic Studio

Richard Naples : March 23, 2015 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, homepage

Alsop-Robineau & co, from the October 1912 issue of Keramic Studio

Alsop-Robineau & co, from the October 1912 issue of Keramic Studio

Around March, I’ll be forgiven if I start to pay a little more attention to the genders of the people I come across in our digital book and journal collection. After all, it is Women’s History Month. But one journal I keep coming back to is Keramic Studio, a monthly ceramics magazine produced around the turn of the 20th century that we digitized a couple years ago as part of our Books Online collection. Adelaide Alsop-Robineau began the journal in 1899, and it continued to be published into the 1920s. The work featured in the early years of the journal was primarily contributed by women, including Alsop-Robineau herself, along with her co-editor Anna B. Leonard. Both women were well known ceramics painters and designers. I find myself returning to the journal and perusing the many images and illustrations, especially when I need a dose of design inspiration. more »

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A Typical Case of Repair Work

Don Stankavage : March 20, 2015 9:00 am : homepage, Natural and Physical Sciences, The Fix (Preservation)

Many books within the various general collections of the Smithsonian Libraries arrive at the Book Conservation Lab in need of similar treatment. Though the several collections in the Natural History Museum Libraries are largely filled with science related items, some reveal aspects of the natural world through artistic and literary presentations.

Recently, a book of this type, entitled The Poetry of Nature, selected and illustrated by Harrison Weir and published in 1868, required some attention. As it was in a very typical state of disrepair, it allowed an opportunity to outline a standard treatment process. This book contains a selection of black and white illustrations accompanied by related poems.

Poetry of Nature 1

The Poetry of Nature. Left: Cover. Right: Interior illustration.

The covers were detached and there were some areas of loss at the head and tail of the spine piece. Additionally, the original paper used to line the spine had become brittle and was starting to flake off.

 

Poetry of Nature 2

Spine and cover

In order to create clean surfaces that would allow the book to be put back together, the spine was carefully cleaned and the acidic pastedowns on the boards were scraped away.

 

Poetry of Nature 3

Cleaning.

Cleaned and ready

Cleaned and ready.

 

Next, to fill in the areas of loss and stabilize the spine piece, a scrap of airplane linen was toned with acrylic paint to closely match the original red cloth.

Plain Airplane Linen vs. toned to match original book cloth

Plain Airplane Linen vs. toned to match original book cloth

Using Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) as an adhesive, trimmed pieces of the toned linen were glued around the damaged areas. The spine piece was then strengthened with a thin lining of Sekishu paper followed by a sturdy Mohawk Superfine Cover Weight paper.

Poetry of Nature 4

Left: Right:

Meanwhile, new endsheets were cut and sewn to the text block. Next, the spine was re-backed with an initial layer of Sekishu paper adhered with Zen-Shofu (Wheat Starch Paste) and then starched linen followed by plain acid free paper, both adhered with PVA.

Poetry of Nature 5

Sewing and rebacking.

Once the book was re-backed and the adhesives had completely dried, the new end sheets were trimmed to the dimensions of the text block and, using PVA, the re-backed text block was glued into the repaired case.

Poetry of Nature 6

Left: Trimming endsheets. Right: Gluing text block in to case.

At last, the finished book was placed into a press to dry for several hours. Its next stop will be the Natural History Museum Main Library where it will be shelved and available for all to enjoy.

Completed book drying in press

Completed book drying in press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Smithsonian Libraries Artists’ Books Collection Online

Anne Evenhaugen : February 4, 2015 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, homepage, Special Collections

The Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to announce the new webpage of the Smithsonian Libraries Artists’ Books Collection! more »

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Creating Meaning Together: A Selection of Collaborative Artists’ Books

Anne Evenhaugen : July 11, 2014 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, Exhibitions, homepage, Intern and Volunteer Updates

Creating Meaning  (5)

“Creating Meaning Together” Collaborative Artists’ Books Exhibition

—This post was contributed by Rita Sausmikat and Maya Riser-Kositsky, interns at the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library summer 2014.

An “artist’s book” can generally be defined as a work of art in book form, though this guideline is interpreted and finessed to fit the artist’s vision. Commonly, artists’ books are portable and interactive, and utilize a plethora of methods, technologies, and materials. Just as with artwork, artists’ books often tell a story, stir emotion, or convey a purpose. more »

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Surf’s Up in Rare Books

Julia Blakely : July 2, 2014 9:00 am : Collection Highlights, Discovery Services, History and Culture, homepage, Research, Special Collections

Ellis 1831 v4.FullPgWhile cataloging Polynesian Researches during a Residence of Nearly Eight Years in the Society and Sandwich Islands (London: 1831-1833; DU510 .E47 1831 SCNHRB), a transfer from the Department of State’s library to the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, I was intrigued by the title page vignette in the fourth volume of the set. Depicted in this little engraved scene is a group of surfers riding a break on narrow planks. Wondering if it was an early representation of the sport, I naturally turned to Google, where a search turned up the information that it is often cited as the first illustration of surfing, at least in the Western Hemisphere. more »

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