Focus On Book Arts

Focus on Books Arts ConferenceFocus on Book Arts has announced its biennial conference to be held June 24 – 28, 2015 at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.  This event is a gathering of beginner through experienced fine art bookmakers and creative individuals from other disciplines interested in the book arts.  The conference offers five days of workshops, several evening lectures, a trade show, an artists’ shop, and an accompanying faculty and staff exhibit.

The 12th biennial Focus On Book Arts Conference offers workshops that appeal to beginning as well as advanced book artists. Each class description outlines the skill level criteria, so you are able to easily determine which class suits you best. You can go for just one workshop or for the entire conference; a range of class lengths lets you tailor an experience just for you.
Black accordion bookThey have new offerings and popular repeats in both the faculty and workshops. You will find detailed information at www.focusonbookarts.org as well as information on housing and other conference activities. Many other events are held in conjunction with the conference, and you will want to check out The Artists’ Shop, the Trade Show, The Faculty/Staff Exhibit and more.

This year, there will be two presentations by well known book artists: Shu-Ju Wang is the Keynote speaker, and Hedi Kyle is meeting with the group for an informal address. They will be sharing their experiences, their work, and their wisdom; conference participants can attend both!

The 2015 conference also introduces a restructuring of the traditional scholarship offering to a work-study program that allows direct involvement in the conference experience to the recipients of funding. The group has named it the Colleen Cavin Fund in honor of a great artist and friend who was such an integral part of the book arts community and this conference.

 

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.

Night at the Library

It is no wonder that self-proclaimed “international web-action” Biblionight (site in Russian only) was conceived and takes place in the territory of Russia and some Former Soviet Republics. In the land where Libraries are revered almost as (or sometimes even more) than churches, an event where people get a look at the inner-workings of the temples of knowledge sounds very natural and exciting. During the day, libraries and archives are a somber, academic place, “policed” by super strict librarian ladies, one night a year, the motto becomes “Be Loud, you’re in the Library!”.
On the night from April 19 to April 20th, hundreds, if not thousands of institutions throughout the region (from tiny countryside libraries to giant state archives) opened their doors for the enthusiastic public and tried to make it as fun as possible. The main focus of the event is promoting literature and reading, while using various formats to attract as many people as possible and getting them interested in books and libraries.

One of the major organizations that took part in this year’s event (which begun in 2011 but has already gained wide popularity) is the famous Russian State Library in Moscow, known affectionately as “Leninka” (quite naturally, it used to be named after Lenin). The State Library is home to millions of artifacts (books, journals, periodicals) from state and over 200 private collections. It’s vast collections are accessible to the general public (over 18 years of age) during normal business hours, although it might take about 2 hours to receive a requested volume from the storage area. The old building still employs some archaic contraptions for book transportation as well as a pneumatic inter-office messaging system. From a conservation point of view, the system doesn’t seem very sound (even the older, fragile looking books don’t seem to have protective individual enclosures) but there’s a massive dust-removing machine, supposedly the only one of it’s kind in Russia.

As part of Biblionight, Leninka opened its’ back doors to curious book lovers, who got to experience the library from the inside. Late at night, small groups were given the guided tours of the common areas (even the ones that are currently under construction), as well as various book repositories, archival storage room and shelves filled with rare collections. Participants got to leaf through some aging tomes with gorgeous original illustrations, and look at thematic collections of periodicals and other printed materials. The night was truly magical!   All images courtesy of photographer Nina Takovaya

Lucky Letter

Coming up on the day when “Everybody is Irish”, we couldn’t help but share this heartfelt story from The Huffington Post about a letter answered almost 3 decades after being sent.

Such is the tale of Megan Smolenyak, described as “an incurable genealogist who wears many hats in the family history world and does all she can to get the g-word out there and inspire others in their quest for roots.” Among many other genealogical mysteries that she has tried to solve was one of her own family history and Irish heritage. Please read the story about the letter and the answer received from the son of the addressee.

If you are on the path of discoveries of your own, you might be interested in the variety of books on Genealogy available from University Products. For example, the new edition of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors retains the familiar structure of previous editions but is now more useful than ever. Combining the key features of a textbook and a reference book, it describes the various steps in the research process while at the same time providing an indispensable body of source materials for immediate use.

“Erin Go Bragh!”

Eric Carle Picture Book Museum Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Eric Carle MuseumOn November 10, 2012, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, will start celebrating its 10th anniversary.  It will mark the occasion with  special events, exhibitions, and family activities. Book festivals, special guest speakers from around the world, and educational workshops are also planned as part of the year long celebration.

The museum, which opened in November 22, 2002, has become quite an attraction for tourists as well as local book lovers, and of course, kids of all ages. Founded by Barbara and Eric Carle, the museum is dedicated to showcasing some of the most outstanding examples of children’s book art. It features many pieces of original artwork and sketches for some of the most well known picture books, beautifully preserved and elegantly displayed in the airy, contemporary halls of the museum. The museum also offers opportunities to create your own future masterpieces, watch a theater production or meet a famous author.

University Products congratulates the wonderful Eric Carle Museum, it’s founders and staff with the anniversary! Our own love for books is obvious in the variety of book-related products we offer. From repair tapes to bookbinding tools, from protective enclosures to exhibition displays, we’ve got it all! Check out Book Arts & Maintenance and Book Displays and Racks sections of our online catalog, and don’t forget these ultimate Book Lover’s gifts – elegantly appointed  Book Repair Kit and Rare Book Display Pillows, which were recently featured in Fine Books and Collections Magazine.

A University Products How-To Tip: Display and Storage of Books

Books present a variety of unique conservation concerns.  Numerous construction materials may include paper, leather, fabric, silk, thread, and adhesives, each of which have specific requirements in the area of conservation.  Unlike a photograph or simple sheet of paper, a book has moving parts (pages) and must be handled and manipulated to perform the function it was designed for.

Protection from temperature and humidity fluctuation, ultraviolet light, and damaging display or storage materials is necessary for the long-term survival of books.  Beyond that, books take on a whole new set of rules.

Open Books
Opening a book completely (180 degrees) can flatten the spine and cause considerable damage.  Collectors often wish to display the book opened. To do so safely, the book should not be opened more than 90 degrees, and both front and back covers should receive full support.This can be accomplished using commercially available book cradles, support wedges and book mounts. They should be manufactured of inert materials (usually Plexiglas) and provide smooth, strong support.

A sheet of polyester (Melinex) cut to the proper size is ideal for holding down “springy” pages of an open book on display.  Because it is crystal clear, the page can be viewed without obstruction.  In addition, it will protect the exposed page(s) from dirt, dust and fingerprints.  The polyester page protector should be fastened to the support, never to the book itself.

Closed Books Storage
Closed books are a little simpler to store.  Adequate circulation should be maintained within the storage area.  Books stored on shelves or in a book case should not be pushed against the back wall, but kept an inch or two away to allow circulation of air.  This is especially important if it is an exterior wall since changes in temperature and humidity are more likely to occur. They should be stored upright on the shelf rather than laid flat, but should not be allowed to lean since the strain could damage the spine.  Books with leather bindings should be stored away from those with cloth or paper bindings to prevent migration of naturally occurring acids and oils in leather from damaging paper or cloth bindings.  Like-size books should be stored together to provide proper support, but should not be so tight as to cause damage when removed or replaced.
The downside to storing your book collection closed and on shelves is that viewing the book requires handling the book.  Careless handling of books can cause irreparable damage, and a few common sense handling procedures can preserve a book in its pristine condition.  Instead of pulling a book out by the top of the spine, push in the books on either side and remove by gently grasping both sides (another good reason to leave a few inches of space behind the books).  Modern day books with dust jackets should be covered with a polyester book jacket cover. Book jacket covers are fairly inexpensive and provide increased protection from general wear and tear. They also prevent chemicals from body oils in the hands and fingers from damaging the book.  Use only polyester or other inert materials to cover books since some plastics or acidic papers can cause more harm than good.  Most libraries use polyester dust jacket covers.

Older/Damaged Books
Older books that are already exhibiting signs of weakness or damage must be treated differently.  These should be stored flat rather than upright to provide needed support, and never more than two or three books high.  Ideally, each damaged book should be stored individually in a box custom made to the book’s dimensions.  These boxes should be manufactured from archival quality materials only.

Some damaged books can and should be repaired. Repair work should only be attempted by a qualified  book conservator trained in using proper materials and techniques.  A book conservator can deacidify any books manufactured with acidic paper, repair tears in pages, tighten loose hinges, and create proper storage boxes, among other procedures.  Properly cared for, your book collection will last indefinitely.

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

dr. seussToday is Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday. The famed author and illustrator was born Theodor S. Geisel, in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904 to parents who had emigrated to the U.S. from Bavaria, which is now a portion of modern-day Germany. The famous Seuss surname was both his mother’s maiden name and his middle name.

Seuss began his writing and illustrating career while in college as he served as a cartoonist at Dartmouth’s humor magazine, The Jack-O’-Lantern, in the mid-1920’s. After a very brief stint at Oxford, Seuss returned to the States and started working on a new profession, drawing cartoons for corporate advertisements. Included in these pieces are cartoons created for Flit, a popular bug spray at the time. Seuss came up with Flit’s famous tagline, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” which became the catchiest advertising slogan of it’s day. Seuss also drew advertisement cartoons for NBC, General Electric, Standard Oil, Ford and many others. These pieces are housed in the Mandeville Special Collections Library within the University of California-San Diego’s Geisel Library in La Jolla and in an interactive online database on the library’s website.

Geisel Library Building
Geisel Library Building

As the international climate turned to war in the 1940’s, Dr. Seuss used his talents to make a statement about what was going on abroad. Seuss was an interventionist who believed strongly that America’s involvement in the war was necessary. Captain Geisel (as was his military title) served in the war with a unit alongside famed film director Frank Capra and even made military training films with Chuck Jones, who would later develop the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. From 1941-1943, Seuss served as the editorial cartoonist for a liberal-leaning newspaper in New York City, PM. The Geisel Library website contains hundreds of these cartoons. According to Seuss scholars, Seuss’s political views formed during WWII later influenced his famed children’s books, Yertle the Turtle and The Sneetches.

Dr. Seuss died in 1991 at the age of 87. However, his legacy lives on today with a reading celebration Read Across America and other events across the country. The Geisel Library is also home to close to 8,500 Dr. Seuss items ranging from books, to speeches, to films and fan mail. Due to the fragility of some of the pieces in this collection, it is available to researchers by appointment only at the library.

dr. seuss national memorial sculpturesUniversity Products is fortunate to be located near Theodor S. Geisel’s birthplace. The whole Greater Springfield area has ties with the famous author and his characters. For example, it is said, that “The Lorax”, on which the new movie coming out today is based, has direct references to some local landmarks (where Seuss grew up). To get a feeling for the place that inspired the iconic children’s author, please visit  Dr. Seuss National Memorial, at the Quadrangle in Springfield, Mass.

For more information on Dr. Seuss, his works, Seuss related-events, and much more visit Seussville.com.

Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens!

Charles Dickens’ classic holiday novella, A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843. In 2011, the original manuscript was given new life and extensive treatment from New York’s Morgan Library and Museum‘s crew of conservators at the Thaw Center for Conservation.  The manuscript restoration was done in anticipation of the bicentenary of the famed author’s birthday which is being observed around the globe today.

Charles Dickens, seen here in an 1860's photograph taken by famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady.

Each page, written word, and the binding itself were carefully examined before the treatment of the manuscript could begin. The initial steps of this process began with the removal of each page from the book’s binding. Each of these separated pages is then bathed in a combination of water and alcohol solution.

Soaking the paper in this solution caused a previously used adhesive to dissolve. According to Morgan conservators, the adhesive coating was probably applied sometime between 1910 and 1920. This now-antiquated technique, called “silking” was once used to strengthen and reinforce paper. The sheer silk coating tends to become brittle over time and loses its effectiveness.

The washing process was completed by a second bath in a combination of  calcium carbonate-enriched deionized water and alcohol. This bath has a neutralizing effect on soluble acids and adhesives. Dickens, like many other writers of the age, wrote in black iron-gall ink (iron gall ink test paper), which is water-resistant and adhered permanently to the paper’s surface.  However, with its high acidity, this ink caused the pages to deteriorate drastically and the ink itself changed to a dark brown tone over time.

After this washing, each page of the manuscript was air-dried and then humidified. To gently flatten each sheet, the pages were placed on blotting paper for several days. Each page was examined further  for tears, rips and holes, and those were repaired with Japanese tissue and a diluted wheat starch paste. Thanks in large part to the high quality paper that Dickens used, The Morgan’s conservators were pleased to report that the manuscript’s pages were in remarkably good condition after the conservation process and have incredibly similar color and flexibility to the original document penned by Dickens.

Happy Birthday Mark Twain

Archives and Rare books, Mark Twain first editions, first printing, University of Cincinnati
Mark Twain first editions, first printing, Archives and Rare books, University of Cincinnati

Today, on the 176th birthday of one of the America’s most famous and mysterious authors of all time, we would like to talk to you about book preservation. Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, left numerous letters, writings, photographs and artifacts that are lovingly preserved in several collections around the country. We are fortunate enough to be located half an hour from Mark Twain’s amazing Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT.

Some of Mark Twain’s collections are being carefully and meticulously digitized. The Mark Twain Project and others, like his Childhood House and Museum Collection in Hannibal, Missouri, are dedicated to preserving priceless objects that used to belong to Twain and his family.

First Editions of Twain’s world-famous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are extremely valuable and some are even signed. Storage and conservation of rare books needs to be done with extreme care. Antique tomes’ spines can become damaged from exposure to the elements, improper storage practices as well as regular wear-and-tear. Using Adjustable Rare Book Boxes will ease the pressure on the spine and the book can be well preserved while stored either horizontally or vertically. Ripped off spines can be reattached using Spine Repair Tape.
Pressure Sensitive Mending Tissue is perfect for repairing torn or brittle pages.

We have collected some wonderful resources to help you identify, care for and preserve the literary treasures you may possess. Please feel free to download these PDF files on Care And Security Of Rare Books, How To Care For Bound Archival Materials, and What Makes A Book Rare? and read a comprehensive article on Display and Storage of Books. University Products offers numerous products, tools and literature for Rare Book Conservation.

Silent film of Mark Twain at “Stormfield”, Redding, CT 1909 (by Thomas Edison), courtesy of Online Archives and University of Cincinnati: