I had a really good time volunteering at the Preservation and Conservation lab today! Since we do (what I think is) some pretty neat stuff, I thought that I would take some pictures and give a play-by-play of what I do there :) Get ready for a journey of AWESOMENESS!! lol :)
1. I walk to the lab, and put on my apron! I used to use the aprons they had there, but I got one for my birthday from World Market (pictures below). I think it is so pretty! My favorite part is the pink rickrack on the pockets and bottom hem. It's almost too pretty to get dirty with leather red rot, glue, and various other hazards of book repair. ALMOST. lol.
2. Once I put on my apron I set up my workstation. I usually lay down a piece of heavy brown craft paper to cover my desk so that I don't get the desk dirty, it makes cleaning up all the little pieces of paper, book, and dust much easier! I also take out my toolkit (pictures below). It contains many things with which I was totally unfamiliar, some that I was like "oh yeah I know what a paintbrush is" (lol), and some that I was surprised to find (like a scalpel!). I have various paintbrushes, a ruler, scissors, a scalpel, a bone folder, a teflon folder, sandpaper, a needle, waxed thread, a book knife, 2 spatulas (one small one large) and some other things I'm sure I am forgetting! I also make sure my station has a cutting mat, a container of PVA (aka white glue), and a small cup of water for dirty brushes. Sometimes I change the blade on my scalpel. That part is scary. lol
3. I go back to my shelf (which is where I keep my toolkit and any works in progress) and take out the books I am working on. When I got to the lab today I was in the middle of working on 3 books, and am now in the middle of working on 5! Because I am still learning I still need my supervisor to walk me through pretty much every step, and when she goes on lunch/while various glued things are drying I sometimes run out of things to do, hence starting 2 more books today. So, in the next steps we will go through the repair I am learning how to do!
4. The repair I am learning is called a Princeton 305. This is what the books generally look like when I start working on them:
As you can see, the spines are usually falling off, and the boards are either completely detached or falling off. I begin by taking off the spine, and removing the boards (careful not to cut too short some strings that sometimes attach the textblock/pages to the boards).
5. Then, for the leather-bound books, I detach the leather from the ends of the boards. Depending on how badly damaged the leather is, sometimes you have to remove the leather entirely to replace it, but in the picture below the leather has remained intact.
6. I then use something called methyl cellulose to scrape down the spine of the book. I put the book in a press (I think they're called presses....lol) so that I have both my hands free, then I use a paintbrush to brush the methyl cellulose on. I let it sit for a few minutes to soften the paper and glue that are on the spine, and then use my spatula to scrape it down! Depending on the book this can either take me a few minutes or close to an hour...lol I had some difficult ones, like the original 3 I was working on, but the one I started today was not too bad.
7. After I scrape down the spine, I make sure I have sanded down the inside of the boards so the old endsheets (paper attaching the boards to the inside of the book, usually blank pages at the beginning and end of books) are not too bulky. Then I glue new endsheets onto the textblock. This got tricky on one of my original 3 books, because one of the signatures, or group of pages, fell off! I then got to sew it back on, which is actually what I did when I first got to the lab today. It was really hard. And totally awesome!
8. After the endsheets are glued onto the textblock, I glue down new supercloth, which reinforces the shape of the book's spine. I then glue a piece of paper on top of the supercloth (which, as far as I can tell, is for more reinforcement? And also, eventually, to glue the spine back on).
9. There are more steps, but maybe I will wait until next week to post them, because this entry is really long and I also don't completely remember them all, as I have not totally completed a repair of this kind before! The books I did before these 5 were just spine repairs. Thanks for reading if you got this far!! lol :)