Oh, Deer!

Rudolf the B-Flute Deer University Products Zund CutIntroducing… Rudolf, the B-Flute Reindeer, a new resident of our pre-holiday offices here at University Products.  Conceived on the world wide web, born and bred on the box-cutting machine in our Holyoke, MA building.

It was such a fun little project to make and now he is absolutely everybody’s favorite! His hide is a nice acid-free blue-gray, he’s strong and sturdy, yet light on his feet. Wait… he doesn’t have feet. Anyway, he’s light and easy to transport, how’s that?

All joking aside, our amazing Zünd G3 custom box machine can cut pretty much anything out of pretty much everything. If you need a custom enclosure (just one, or a hundred) or have another special project in mind, please feel free to contact our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives for a quote (call 1.800.628.1912) or fill in this form and fax it to 1.800.532.9281.

And as a special treat, we would like to give you a chance to win your very own corrugated deer! Share this on your blog, facebook or twitter, leave a comment with a proof-link below and your name will be entered into a drawing which will take place at noon, on Monday, December 23. 
Happy Holidays from your friends at University Products and Rudolf!
Rudolf the B-Flute Deer University Products Zund Cut

Bonus: A little “in process” video:

Conservation Dance

We decided to share with you this wonderful video, showing (and describing) conservation process that took place at the esteemed Victoria and Albert Museum‘s conservation labs a few years ago, during preparations for a large exposition dedicated to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. An extremely diverse collection, ranging from theatrical set decorations to ballet costumes, worn by world renown dancers, with everything in between (amazing posters, created by some of the greatest artists of the time, photos and other mementos). Costumes, obviously, presented biggest conservation challenges, being actual pieces, made and used for dancing, some of them extremely fragile but nonetheless impressive in their imaginative designs and meticulous detailing.

Conserving Diaghilev from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

Dead Sea Scrolls Visit New England

There is a very old and honorable guest visiting New England, more specifically – Boston, Massachusetts. This guest has been around… longer than our current calendar, is fragile and extremely brittle, yet, it’s still standing, and can even travel around the world on occasion! The guest of honor, of course, is the exhibit of Dead Sea Scrolls, joined by a large collection (more than 600 objects) of artifacts on loan from Israel Antiquities Authority.

The exhibit, Dead Sea Scrolls: Life in Ancient Times, opened at the Museum of Science this week with the main attraction being, of course,  2000+ year old fragments of the manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible. Mostly written on parchment (although there are some on papyrus and bronze), these precious texts survived all this time because they were hidden in dark caves in the dry and arid climate of the Qumran area adjoining the Dead sea. Dead Sea ScrollOriginally discovered by a Bedouin shepherd around 1947, the first found scrolls underwent some very rough handling (hanging from a tent pole and occasionally being passed around in attempts to figure out their value), and sustained considerable damage. After that, they traveled around, sustaining further damage (one was stuck between two pieces of window glass, trapping the moisture with it, others were nearly destroyed with glue and tape during attempts to “fix” them, and quite a few suffered major mildew and acid damage from being stored in a damp vault placed in non-archival manila envelopes). But once they were finally identified and acquired by the Antiquities Authority, major preservation efforts were made. Tellingly, the maximum time conservators allow for them to be displayed is 90 days, after which the 10 featured scroll fragments will be switched out with new pieces.

Since 1991, the scrolls reside in solander boxes in a climate controlled laboratory while Israel Museum conservators concentrate on removal of tape, oils, metals, salt and other contaminants using the most advanced modern scientific methods. The Museum and Google joined forces to complete the digitization project which is due to be finished in 2016, but you can already scroll (pun intended) through the scanned texts, zooming in areas with very high resolution views, and even read the instant online translation.

Using Fosshape for Mountmaking

Fosshape is revolutionary light weight material for mountmakingFosshape, the new specially engineered polyester material looks and feels like felt in it’s raw state, shrinks about 25% and stiffens from applied heat. Because of it’s infinite flexibility, it is ideal for creating low-cost lightweight forms for costume or hat display. Fosshape is durable for indoor or outdoor use and even breathable. It saves valuable time and labor during the construction process, since no messy additives or drying/setup time are required. All synthetic, it is not affected by humid conditions or water, and is mold and mildew resistant. University Products offers Fosshape in 2 different weights/thicknesses. Please see How-To Tips with instructions on using Fosshape and more technical information. Also, watch our new video on creating a dress form out of Fosshape using both a steamer and a heat gun:

We Are Crazy About These Collections!

Stirling District Asylum’s 50 volumes of meticulous medical records, detailing the care and treatment of mental health patients in Central Scotland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were transferred for treatment and preservation to the University of Stirling Archives. They are undergoing thorough cleaning, and after being cataloged will provide wealth of historical, social and medical information for genealogical and historical researchers at the archive.

1446 items removed from patients' stomachs. Photo from the Glore Psychiatric Museum.

Glore Psychiatric Museum, part of St. Joseph, Missouri Museum Group, boasts probably the largest collection showing the evolution of mental health care in the United States. Appropriately located in one of the buildings of ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2’ which opened in November of 1874 with 25 patients, the museum hosts multiple full-sized replicas, interactive displays, audio-visuals, artifacts, and documents to illustrate the history of the treatment of mental illness.

Last but not least, Mütter Museum at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is celebrating it’s 150th anniversary and is working on restoring it’s Hyrtl Skull Collection, consisting of 139 fine specimens, all of which are now up for “adoption”. During the SOS (Save Our Sculls) Campaign, the $200 price of your contribution would assist with initial cost of cleaning, repair, and remounting of your chosen artifact and your (or somebody else’s) name will be permanently included on the the skull mount!

For the Love of Valentines

Antique Valentines CardsLast year, we wrote about history of Valentines, but this time, we’d like to simply admire some very special holiday cards we found on the web…

In this lovely video, conservators from The Currier Museum of Art, an internationally renowned art museum located in Manchester, New Hampshire, are demonstrating some very delicate fanciful cards from the late 19th century donated to the museum by the family of John W. Sanborn:

And in this photoset, courtesy of Chip Oglesby/chipoglesby.com you can see a more personal side of Valentines, complete with his mother’s comments on the actual history of each card, who they were given to and from sometime between 1930s and 1950s. You can read more about these cards in his original blog post here.
greeting card archival storage boxCards appear to be in great shape (a few creases and rips non withstanding) with bright colors and intricate details intact. We highly recommend storing cards in Acid and Lignin Free Boxes so they would last for a very long time and will be able to “tell” their stories for generations to come. Happy Valentines Day!

World Famous Tapestry Comes Alive

The Bayeux Tapestry, is probably one of the most famous pieces of embroidered cloth (yes, despite it’s name it’s not really a tapestry) in the world. This massive (nearly 230 ft) depiction of the Norman conquest of England which was first mentioned in 1476, has survived multiple invasions, wars, revolutions and finally, after nearly being taken away by the Nazis during the WWII, was returned to it’s home town of Bayeux in 1945, where it is still exhibited at Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux. Amazingly, the Tapestry has survived over nine centuries practically unscathed!

The Tapestry serves as a tremendously important historical document, even though it was commissioned by the House of Normandy, and presents a rather one-sided view of the event. In 2007 it was added to the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

The artifact is embroidered in wool yarn on linen, which is why it is not technically a tapestry (in which the design is woven into the cloth). It has been patched in numerous places and some of the embroidery (especially in the final scene) has been reworked, but we can be certain that it maintained much of its original appearance seeing that it compares closely with a careful drawing by Antoine Benoît made in 1730. It has quite a few replicas and has inspired some pretty impressive imitations around the world including the amazing needle lace 30ft “table runner” in the Textile Collection of the National Museum of American History.

The real thing, however, is still in the little French town of Bayeux, where it is housed in a long glassed vault with a door. In case of fire, gas cylinders will trigger automatic extinguishers. The vault is also equipped with an air conditioning system to preserve the embroidery. But if you are not planing to visit Normandy any time soon, you can see the The Bayeux Tapestry “come alive” in this wonderful animation:

New How-To Video on Mount Making

University Products is adding instructional videos to its www.universityproducts.com website, and the first video is now available. The new series of videos will showcase the company’s line of tools and equipment in operation, as well as demonstrating materials and offering assembly instructions.

The video series are designed to provide customers with an understanding of how tools and equipment are used, and the potential applications for products that will save time and money, and improve collections care.

The debut video highlights the creation of Ethafoam® Cavity Mounts for 3-dimensional objects. This instructional video demonstrates mount making tools including the Ethafoam® Knife/Saw, Benchmark® Foam Knives, and the Quick-Cut Hot Knife in use.  In addition, a variety of mount making materials including Ethafoam, Artifact Wrap, and Polyester Batting are included in the demonstration.

In the video, Ethafoam is cut to size to accommodate a specific object.  A cavity is then created in the Ethafoam using a variety of cutting tools and contour gauge for measuring the depth of the cavity.  Finally, appropriate padding and lining materials are added to create the perfect storage mount.

Future videos will include the use of Fosshape for creating lightweight forms for costume display, the Colibri Book Covering System in use, a demonstration of the University Products’ new Polyester Spot Welder and dozens of others.

We want to make you a star!  Share your video of University Products’ tools or equipment in use in a professional library, archives, or museum setting and you could receive up to $100 in free supplies for your organization.  Email mpfoster@universityproducts.com for details.

Emancipation Proclamation Turns 150!

Although 150 is a respectable age for any document, a paper of such significance as Emancipation Proclamation deserves a special celebration for this milestone.

The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the National Archives kicks off on December 30, 2012 with a rare (this only happens a few days a year) public viewing of the original official sealed manuscript. It will continue through January 24, 2013 with film viewings, performances and presentations. You can see the entire schedule here.

Preservation of the Proclamation is not easy. Printed on a poor quality machine-made paper, it has already sustained considerable damage from light and frequent handling, which is why it is so rarely on display. It has been carefully treated and the weak paper support has been mended and reinforced using the latest conservation techniques. The folio, which is folded and tied with a ribbon, has paper with an alkaline reserve placed behind (for possible acid-migration), then it is sealed between two layers of clear inert Mylar. When not on display, the framed document is placed in a four-flap folder, which goes inside a custom box, so it’s completely light and element safe.