August 15th

So today I finished repairs on the map of the Province of Maine. I think it looks really nice and it’s almost a shame to fold it back up and tuck it in the book for who knows how long until someone looks at it again.

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Again I am slightly bothered by how to fold the map in again – so I am using another folded map in the book as a guide, which is the best I can do. I am thinking about contacting someone who has studied the way these books were put together when they were created – they might know how these maps were originally folded.

When I’m not mending the folded maps in these volumes, I go through every single page to fix “dog-ears” or other folds or mends. On my way through, I find things trapped in the spines – like seeds or dead insects etc. Today I found some hair. Many would be grossed out by this, but even this hair I am keeping in mylar with the books because someday I hope that science will advance enough to enable us to find out more information about this book and it’s readers. I realize that the hair might be from someone not from long ago but from a more recent read, but MAYBE NOT! Could it be the hair of the owner? Maybe one day we can find out!

I’m also thinking today about wheat paste. I mention in an earlier blog that my mends were not “sticking” in some places, and I thought the culprit was a too-thin wheat paste. I have been making it a tad bit thicker and it seems to have done the trick. Also, because we are a VERY small scale operation – we don’t have the facilities or the equipment to really be a full repair lab – I basically mix my wheat paste in a dish and avoid lumps carefully. The more correct way to do this would be to put it through a fine-mesh sieve, and as I was perusing the isles of my local Asian market, I saw a spoon like sieve meant for straining grease off the top of broth. I wonder if that would work for my purposes. I think I’ll get it and make it my donation to my little lab. But today….lumpy wheat paste.

August 1st

Back at Southwestern doing some volunteering and also answering a few questions. It’s nice to be back! After two weeks in Maine for a vacation, I feel refreshed!

Today I talked about mounting things with the new assistant. This is part of the training I’m doing for my “replacement”. We have very limited ways of, say, mounting a poster (NOT an archival poster or anything valuable, but posters we create for an exhibit that will be used for a limited time). The department used double stick tape, which can be fine if you are working on something with a darker or busy background, but I started using spray mount for the lighter posters. Neither of these ways is 100% great – the tape is difficult to place and can be seen – especially if it gets folded or lumpy. And the spray mount can have bubbles in it, even when you quickly use a brayer AND it needs to be used outdoors etc. The university has a dry mount press, which can mount things that look very professional, but it certainly isn’t big enough to mount a poster. Ah well, we use what we have and for our purposes most of the time, our tape and spray ways do the job just fine!

Today in the lab I am doing a few more tissue mends and flattening out some pages to be worked on next time. Again I am noticing today a few places where the mend is not sticking to the paper. I’m going to try to mix the wheat paste a little thicker and see if that helps.