Coming in and removing the spun polyester and blotting paper after repairs have been done is kind of like Christmas! 🙂 You get to see your work all neatly pressed and dry, and sometimes trim a tab or two if needed.
Today I’m dampening and pressing the first pages of the first volume of these books. A point to consider was that they have writing on them, and putting water on ink could blur it, so a small test in an inconspicuous place was needed. Here is an example of the writing and a close up of some of the text (I can’t help it! I love my macro lens!)
The ink in question is likely oak gall ink, given it’s brown color and the time in which the book was published. A brief but really interesting article about oak gall is here. The ink seems to be fairly stable and the water didn’t smear it, but just to be safe I used as little water as possible around the areas with the ink. This tool is really handy – it’s got a brush head and you fill the body with distilled water and you can really control where the water is going and how much.
After coming back from lunch, I’m reminded of another important aspect in preserving these books – clean hands! Hands should be free of lotions and perfumes and also nail polish. All of these things can come off onto whatever you are working on!
In the preservation lab at Southwestern, I have secured a small space behind the door to have my project resting. I need to keep the other working surfaces free so that students can come in and make boxes or work on other projects. This takes a bit of coordination on my part as I fit as many books as I can on the top of this space like puzzle pieces!