University Products Sponsors “Making Mannequins with Fosshape” Workshop

On November 17th and 18th the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted Fosshape Workshops sponsored by University Products, Inc. As part of the 2015 North American Textile Conservation Conference (NATCC) the workshop allowed textile conservators from throughout the world to learn about and work with both Fosshape 300 and 600, donated by University Products. The workshop was led by Shelly Uhlir from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Her presentation showed how they had used Fosshape in numerous exhibits and allowed them to be able to easily, effectively, and accurately create mannequins for their museum. Once the presentation was completed, workshop participants spent the remaining time working with Fosshape. Three stations were set up to work with Fosshape to create torso, head, and hand mannequin pieces. The participants enjoyed the hands on time, allowing them to be both creative and learn how using Fosshape can be of use in their own museums and private practices. Participants were from countries including the U.S., U.K.. Sweden, Denmark, and Australia. All enjoyed learning about and working with Fosshape.
Making Mannequins with Fosshape

Tale of the Three Dresses

A wedding dress can serve as one of the most symbolic and treasured items of clothing in a woman’s closet. Throughout history, brides have long anticipated the occasion to wear exclusive fabrics and rich materials of a luminous color. Let’s be honest – wedding dress is designed to make every girl feel like a princess!

Specialist textile conservators at the Historic Royal Palaces recently completed a major project to conserve five iconic British royal wedding dresses. These wedding dresses are kept in carefully controlled storage conditions at Kensington Palace, enveloped in many layers of protective and supportive packaging materials. The silk satin wedding dress worn by Queen Victoria in 1840 is among one of the most popular dresses in the collection, as it set the trend of white wedding dresses for years to come. If you are seeking the royal treatment for your own special garment, we have some tips and products that will help you conserve your precious gown for years to come!

Unless you want to “trash” your wedding dress (for personal reasons), preserving it is much easier and more affordable than you think! Conserve your gown the way museum professionals do using all archival quality supplies from University Products.

What You Will Need:
• Clean gown. All additional pieces removed and stored separately.
Large textile box. Textile conservators prefer white poly box because it is lightweight yet sturdy, and won’t snag the fragile fabric.
White cotton gloves. Always wear gloves to handle something that can deteriorate from contact with human secretions (yes, even tiny amounts of natural oil that can hide in your fingers. Overtime the invisible “fingerprints” can turn into ugly stains and destroy delicate fabrics.
Unbuffered acid-free tissue paper. Put down a few layers on the bottom of the box, lower the dress, folding it in as few places as possible and place rolls of loosely crumpled tissue paper within the folds. Stuff the sleeves and the area between shoulders with similar “rolls” of tissue paper. Your dress will hold shape and won’t wrinkle from long term storage. Put some more tissue in the corners so the dress won’t move even if the box is being transported. Cover everything on top with a few more loose layers of tissue.
• Add a packet of Silica Gel Desiccant for some internal moisture control.
It is best to store the dress in the conditions that are comfortable for a human! No musty and cold basements or dry and hot attics. Drastic changes in humidity and/or temperature are very very bad for your dress. And our goal is to make it last as long as possible, right?

What NOT to do:
• Don’t try to preserve a dress that is dirty, soiled with sweat, dirt or food.
• Don’t encapsulate the dress in air-less container. Vacuum is not good for the fabric, it will start to deteriorate.
• Do not use boxes with clear windows. They might be pretty, but light will discolor part of the dress that is showing through and it will become different from the rest of the garment.
• Keep away from dust and mold.
• No basements and attics, high humidity or dryness, extreme heat or cold.

What You Should Do:
• Have the gown looked at by a textile preservation specialist or at least professionally dry-cleaned.
• All little rips/snags should be mended, loose threads tied up and hidden. All additional decorations (especially those with metal base) removed and stored separately.
• Obtain a large, acid-free textile box that will easily fit the dress and some tissue paper.
• Handle everything in gloves.

To illustrate this blog post, we used 3 generations of beautiful white dresses, courtesy of one of our treasured #TeamUPI members – Kim. They are her grandmother’s, mother’s and her own wedding gowns. All three were carefully preserved and sent home in archival textile boxes, padded with acid-free tissue paper.

Local Archival Delivery Mystery Solved!

legal document cases archival university productsOn Monday, April 20, University Products received a rush request from Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. They needed 35 legal size document cases, 200 legal size folders with reinforced tabs, and 65 spacers, and they needed them by Wednesday.  They had ordered it from another vendor last Thursday and had expected the shipment to arrive, but were told that it won’t arrive until Thursday. It was actually for an acquisition project going on in Leeds, Massachusetts.

We had everything in stock, and even offered to drive it to the destination to make the deadline.  The purchase order arrived Tuesday morning, and John Dunphy, University Products’ Vice President and General Manager set off to deliver the products that day.  He soon found himself in the country, in a residential area, and pulled into a driveway surrounded by a large number of sculptures.  It was then that it dawned on him that the person he was bringing the order to, Lisa Baskin, was the widow of famed artist Leonard Baskin.

Why was Duke University purchasing archival storage supplies and shipping them to a little town in Western Massachusetts?  Turns out, it acquired one of the largest and most significant private collections on women’s history!  Read more about Lisa Unger Baskin Collection: https://today.duke.edu/2015/04/baskinrelease

Preserving the Time Capsule Contents

Images recently surfaced of items from a “time capsule” that was buried beneath the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House in 1795.  The items were originally placed there by Samuel Adams (then governor of Massachusetts) and Paul Revere.  The box was opened in 1855, cataloged, and reassembled with new materials added from that time period.

Among the contents were 23 coins, a medal decorated with the face of George Washington, and several period newspapers, along with a plaque describing the laying of the original cornerstone.  You can read more about it in this Slate article.

Historical significance aside, what we liked seeing were all these treasured displayed in various archival storage products.  The coins were laid out on Corrosion Intercept®, which protects metal artifacts by reacting with and neutralizing corrosive gasses and place inside Artifact Specimen Trays.  There were also a number of Artifact Storage Trays with Clear View Lids that allow you to view the contents while protecting them from dirt and dust.  Acid-free Folders and Tissue also were visible in the images.

It’s fitting then that in March, University Products will exhibit and be a sponsor at a joint meeting between the New England Archivist (NEA) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Boston!  Members of both NEA and MARAC have been working together diligently over the past year to bring you a fantastic three-day program that is diverse, interesting, and collaborative. There are sessions, workshops, repository tours, a Day of Service community volunteer day, and more.  And of course, there is the opportunity to network with members of the archival profession from two regional organizations.

Creating a Family Archive at the Thanksgiving Table

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we begin to anticipate a day filled with family, friends, food, celebration, sharing, and gratitude. Our Thanksgiving Day traditions are largely centered on family history, whether it is a special dish served every year, or a large gathering in a relative’s home.

The week leading up to Thanksgiving includes recipe planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. This Thanksgiving, in addition to bringing food to the table, we seek to include a serving of family history.

We challenge you to join us in establishing a new family tradition by creating a family archive this holiday! Perhaps you’ll get inspired by the following fun ideas:

  • Bring out the photos! Dig out some old photos to pass around the table. This is a great way to spark memories and perhaps identify some of the unknown people in your photos! Afterwords, make sure to use archival quality albums or Boxes for your family treasures. Check out our Heritage Scrapbooks, Album Pages, and sleek Portfolio Binders.
  • Ask your relatives to share stories! Begin by asking elders at the table if they can remember what they typically ate for Thanksgiving when they were younger. Bring a small digital voice recorder and tape the conversations! Check out the Smithsonian’s Interview Guide for more ideas of questions to ask relatives!
  • Bring your camera and take new pictures! Invite your family to join a photo sharing website, or create a traditional Photo Album. Add new snapshots every year! These pictures can even serve as great holiday greeting cards or Postcards!
  • Time CapsuleIf you’ve inherited a family recipe, ask around the table and see if anyone wants to create an informal family cookbook. Our archivally safe Albums &  Pages can help collect and safely store the collected recipes and complete your project!
  • Create your very own family Time Capsule and decide on the date in the future to open it. Perhaps, Thanksgiving dinner in 10 years? Or even 20! Collect personal “artifacts” from all family members in presence and don’t forget to request something to be sent from the absentees.
  • Save information about items of sentimental (and/or monetary) value, by working on the Heirloom Diary together – the book contains space for detailing family heirlooms as well as the story behind them.
  • For the children at the table, create a family genealogy game by challenging them to match baby pictures to adult pictures. Or, make a personalized memory game using your own photos. Use their creative talents to build a family tree (2- or even 3-dimensional!) The children will become very familiar with their relatives, especially those they may not see very often.

These simple steps can help make your Thanksgiving a time of sharing family history and working to create a unique family archive. You may just discover information you have never known and learn something about your ancestors that you never imagined. You may even be surprised how your family traditions today have carried on or evolved between generations. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Preserving New Hampshire’s Past for the Future

One of America’s earliest and most successful operetta composers, George W. Stratton (1830-1901), was one of the few to compose and self-publish operettas entirely for children. He and his wife never had children, but instead brought joy to youth through their widely performed showpieces with chimerical plots and advanced choruses, solos, duets, and even recitative. Mrs. Stratton worked with her husband to write lyrics and draw cover artwork. In 1885, they sought a final resting place for their legacy, and gave to their native town of West Swanzey, New Hampshire, the “Stratton Free Library and Art Gallery.”

Stratton provided the library some 2,000 of the best books in the English language, over 200 pictures selected in Europe to be educational in the lines of art, history, or architecture, and music volumes by the finest classical composers to that date. His family trust maintained the library until 1914, when it was given to the town. Alas, much of the artwork was sold in the 1920s to raise funds for the library. At the moment, library has 5 of Lucy Stratton’s oil paintings, and as it happens, they have just heard from someone, whose parents bought one of the paintings by Lucy and he is going to return it to the library.

Upon visiting the Stratton Free Library, one would find only two rooms with minimal belongings. A marble bust of Stratton stands in the main hallway along with neat rows of brown leather-bound books arranged in glass cases. The once-filled gallery is now left with only two landscape paintings. An old trunk contains various operettas and sheet music with exquisite detail. Every booklet includes specific stage directions, costume descriptions, and previews of new operetta releases. One of Stratton’s most notable works, Fairy Grotto, written in 1872, has a plot reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with a whimsical musical overtone.

Anne Meyer, a “generalist” conservator with a wealth of knowledge, works in the library taking care of the remaining artifacts of the library’s benefactor and his wife. She began as a curious child with an interest in antiques and personal history, and now focuses mostly on restoring textiles, costumes, and period pieces. Her work at the library includes removing over a century worth of dust, finger oils, improper storage damage, and mold with Groom-Sticks, Hydrophilic Sponges, and Wishab Dry Cleaning Sponges. She also spends a lot of time advising visitors on how to preserve their own historical treasures.

Along with the collection of operettas found in the library, many works have also been donated or purchased by the town or Stratton trust. The music that once brought joy to countless children and adults is now being restored in hopes of continuing Stratton’s legacy of great American children’s music.

For more information on the life and works of G.W. Stratton please call (603) 352-9391 or visit the Stratton Free Library, 9 Main St, Swanzey, NH

Custom Mount Making for Books

There are so many ways to display books, and by using Vivak® Polyester Sheets, you can create a unique design that safely shows off your book’s best features.

In our How-To: Mount Making using Vivak Polyester Sheets tutorial we have instructions to create a basic mount out of Vivak. For cutting any mount out of this material it is best to use the Swivel Blade Acrylic Cutters or Heavy Duty Blade.

The great thing about Vivak is that it becomes soft and pliable when heated, making it easy to form into almost any shape. Once it cools it retains in the shape it has been given and offers superior impact strength. To create creases, you can save time, effort, and obtain better results by using an Acrylic Sheeting Bending Strip. This will heat only the narrow area that is being formed. For a wider, more gradual bend, it is best to use a Heat Gun.

Besides the style of book mount shown in our How-To, there are many ways to create one specifically for your needs. You can experiment with combining boards and Vivak, and using display accessories like Clear Polyester Strips. Here we have examples of other styles thanks to Tim Corlis at Rutgers University, Special Collections & University Archives.

May is the National Photography Month

National Photo MonthEvery May since 1987 the United States has celebrated National Photography Month. Throughout the country, this month is marked by photography contests, festivals, exhibits, and other activities. It also represents a time of reflection on the history of photography and how far it has grown. In 1827, Joseph Nicephore Niepce made the first photographic image with a camera obscura. His heliographs, or sun prints, allowed the light to draw his pictures. In 1829, Louis Daguerre partnered with Niepce to improve the process and develop a method known as the daguerreotype. This ‘fixed’ the images onto a sheet of silver-plated copper. In 1889, George Eastman invented film with a flexible, unbreakable base. The 1940s brought color and Polaroid photographs, which eventually gave way to digital and disposable cameras in the 1980s.

The Big Photo ShowOne of the biggest celebrations of the month takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 17-18. This Big Photo Show offers photo enthusiasts an opportunity to see, touch, try, and buy photo equipment from top manufacturers, learn picture taking tips from professionals, discover the newest ways to display images, and more. The event even includes a photography contest open to all photo enthusiasts.

Celebrating National Photography Month can take many forms. Whether you are entering contests, or simply cherishing everyday moments, don’t forget to appreciate the history of this wonderful art.

ApresfotoAprèsfoto, the premier supplier of archival presentation and storage products will be exhibiting at the Big Photo Show, May 17-18 at the LA Convention Center, booth #435. Stop by and see a variety of products from portfolios, archival boxes and photo bags to interleaving tissues and frame supplies.  Get a sneak peek at some new products and don’t forget to pick up a show special coupon!

For special discounted show tickets just use code 2014TBPS to get $15 off the ticket price courtesy of Aprèsfoto. Go to: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-big-photo-show-2014-tickets-9930374016

Preserving Pension Records in Ireland

Images courtesy of The Military Archives
Images courtesy of The Military Archives

In June 1923, the Oireachtas of Saorstát Éireann (Irish Free State) decided to recognize and compensate the wounded members, and the widows, children and dependents of deceased members of the Irish National Army, the Irish Volunteers, and the Irish Citizen Army that had active service during the Easter Week of 1916, the War of Independence, and the Civil War.

An early recruitment poster, c. 1925. Image courtesy of the Military Archives
An early recruitment poster, c. 1925. Image courtesy of the Military Archives

Various pieces of legislation allowed applicants to consider themselves eligible for gratuities, allowances, or pensions. In determining the accuracy of these applications, supporting material was gathered by a committee. These materials included membership rolls, reports of activities carried out by the military formations, detailed information on the course of events during the time period, and about 68,896 military medals.

Today, the Military Service Pensions Collection is being made available online through a series of releases ending in Easter week 2016. Project leaders want to enable the long term preservation of the original records, and allow the public to access the complex collection of about 270,000 to 300,000 individual files. The materials have suffered from poor storage conditions, use of poor quality paper, rusting of the pins, staples and fasteners used, and bad handling.

The preservation process began with the documents being physically cleaned, including the removal of metal, treasury tags and other ties. Files were then reorganized using acid free archival standard supplies. A lab was established on-site for the conservation of badly damaged material. Due to their poor physical state, some files were microfilmed and digitized in order to minimize the handling of the material. Other sources were scanned in color directly as TIFF files and backed up and stored. To allow the public and relatives of former participants in the 1916-1923 period to obtain high quality copies of relevant files in the collection, PDF files were created, and photographs taken of the very fragile material.

One of the Pension Documents, image courtesy of the Military Archives
One of the Pension Documents. Image courtesy of the Military Archives

Next, an online database was created with the digitized original documents through a Military Archives website to maximize the access to the collection. A suitable collections management software package was identified, and then customized to suit the military nature of the files and records. The entire collection was divided into searchable databases, reflecting the vast bulk of the individual applicant’s files in the collection. All files relating to an individual are co-located to fit the various reference codes and have a unique file code as a primary key for reference and sourcing.

The release of the Military Service Pensions Collection comes at a critical time. In 2016, Ireland will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter rebellion in Dublin. This marks the most significant uprising in Ireland, and the start to the independence movement. Following the rebellion, the Irish Republican Army launched a war against the British government that ended in a July 1921 cease-fire and an eventual treaty that established the Irish Free State. The fully independent Republic of Ireland was formally proclaimed on Easter Monday in 1949. With the release of the pension records over the next two years, Ireland can continue to celebrate its independence and remember those who fought to gain it.

The Angels Project

2013 Angels Project, Hoover Dam/Boulder City Museum, Boulder City, NV. Photos by Connie Frisbee Houde

The Costume Society of America was founded on March 23, 1973 to advance the global understanding of all aspects of dress and appearance. In 1978, it began forming regional groups, now encompassing six throughout the United States and Canada, and one international group. CSA promotes its goals with annual national symposia, and publications, including an annual journal, a quarterly newsletter, and a monthly electronic newsletter.

This year’s 40th annual meeting is to be held from May 28th to May 31st in Baltimore, Maryland. The week’s activities include keynote speakers Jay McCarroll and Dominique Streater from Project Runway, presentations, panel discussions, professional development sessions, silent auctions, visits to historic sites, and social hours for participants.

Since 2006, CSA has hosted a special volunteer event, the Angels Project, in conjunction with its National Symposium. This one-day project provides conservation, storage, and curatorial assistance to a costume collection at a small institution. This year, The Angels Project will take place on May 27th at the Historical Society of Baltimore County. Angels will be cleaning, photographing, labeling, documenting, and re-housing the costume and accessory collection to help the small staff of the museum.

Historical Society of Baltimore County building (an old alms house), site of the 2014 Costume Society of America Angels Project. Photo courtesy of CSA

Corrugated Textile Storage Boxes To assist in this deserving conservation effort, University Products is donating archival storage supplies to this year’s Angels Project. Donated items include Unbuffered Interleaving Tissue, Archival Textile Storage Boxes, and Polyester Label Holders. These items will assist in the Historical Society’s renovation goals as it looks to develop new and exciting exhibits to display Baltimore’s unique and diverse history.

University Products is honored and excited to once again participate in this significant cause and donate to the Costume Society of America’s Angels Project 2014.