Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leather Reback

On a recent field trip to the book conservation lab at Cornell University, I saw a few leather bound books that were rebacked with new leather (calf). This was interesting for me because most of the leather rebacks were do at Syracuse are repaired with PC4 paper. I decided to go through the stacks and find a good candidate for this treatment. This was the book I found.
My first step was to dye some of the calf leather we had to match. I used J.Hewitt aniline dyes, which start as a powder. You mix the powder with wheat starch paste (powder) and a little water to make a paste, then dilute as needed with boiling water. Dampen the leather with a sponge, then apply the dye. This picture shows the leather before (left) and after (right) dying.
While the leather was drying, I removed the old spine piece (saving the label), and cleaned the spine with methyl cellulose. I had to watch it carefully to the original end bands did not come off with the gunk. I pasted out the spine and lined it with Japanese tissue, which came up on to the end bands for additional support. Then I cut strips of linen, to fit between the cords, and glued them down with PVA. While the spine dried, I lifted the leather and end papers at the spine and corners of the boards. I reattached the boards by gluing the linen spine lining down under the lifted leather.
I pared and pasted out the new leather (one thick coat, let sit for 10 min folded over itself, add another coat) and molded it over the corners and spine. I also made sure to leave enough leather at the head and tail (after turn ins) to construct head and tail caps. I left this to dry over night. 
The next day, I glued down the lifted materials with PVA. I glued out a strip of Mylar, and slid it under the lifted leather, tapped down on it gently, and slid the strip out. This ensures just enough glue gets underneath, and has less risk of the leather darkening. I also pasted out strips of Japanese tissue for the inner hinge. 
While this dried, I worked on the spine label. I found a Morike similar in color to the label, and glued two pieces together. Then I glued the original label to the Morike and toned it to a better match with acrylics. I measured the spine width, and the height between cords, and cut the Morike to size. Then glued it in place with PVA. These are pictures of the end result.
I am going to try the technique on other books in the lab. The biggest problem I faced was building up my corners, which is something I need to work on. Other than that, my color is a little light, so the next time I will add a few additional coats of dye and dab them on with a sponge, to give the leather an aged look. Aside form dying the leather, this process didn't take much longer than a PC4 reback, and I like the end result better. Obviously the materials for this type of repair are more expensive, but I think it is worth it for the right books.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tape Removal - Music Book

This book's sewing had broken in several places and the signatures were being held together with pressure sensitive tape. The case was detached, but in good shape.
I began by removing all the tape with a tacking iron and spatula. In several areas, the plastic carrier from the tape had dried and fallen off, leaving behind only the adhesive residue. I was able to remove most of this using ethyl alcohol and a cotton swab. When I had all the signatures loose, I washed the book between Reemay. First, in more alcohol to help reduce the tape staining and open the fibers. Then in water twice and Magnesium Bicarbonate [Mg2(CO3)2]. These pictures show the water washes one (top) and two (bottom). As you can see, a lot was removed.
When the sheets were dry, I guarded the loose leaves back together and repaired damaged pages with Japanese tissue and heat set tissue. Then I resewed the text block (two on) and lined the spine with Japanese tissue and linen. I repaired the case by lining Japanese tissue behind the original spine and adding a blotting paper stiffener. I also put PVA in the bumped corners and more Japanese tissue on the corners and endcaps, where the cloth was damaged. I rehung the boards using the linen spine lining, then covered the hinge with a strip of Japanese tissue. These are pictures of the end result.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Padded Boards

This was actually the first book I'd encountered in the lab with padded boards. The cover material felt like paper lined vinyl. The material was cracked in a few places and was coming off the padding. The spine had almost entirely deteriorated. Luckily, the sewing, original mull lining, and joints were in tact.
I removed the covering material gently with a spatula. Next, I lifted the endpapers at the turn ins. This was relatively easy because I went under the original cover material turn ins. Then I took off the few remaining bits on the spine. I pasted out the spine and lined it with Japanese tissue, then linen (PVA). The padding was only attached by four tiny dabs of glue, so I was able to fold it back on itself and bring all the new materials on to the boards. I also added a new spine piece of linen lined Morike and a stiffener, to make the spine more durable.
To recover the book, I used a sheet of Morike. I glued it down only at the spine and the turn ins, to prevent damage to the padding. Finally, I glued the original covers on the Morike (PVA). I did not bother to tone the Morike because I was afraid it would do more harm than good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Leather Reback with Previous Repair

I picked this book off the cart because it had a lot of previous repairs. The sewing had broken and the text block was in two pieces. The sections closest to the break were being held in place with pressure sensitive tape. Being a tight backed book, the spine had also broken. The book was being held together by what looked like maroon duct tape. This tape was also on a few pages in the first section. There was also approximately ten pages of images, which had be cut down and taped together, in a random order, with pressure sensitive tape behind the title page.
I began be removing the tape from the spine. The adhesive was delaminating, so it peeled off easily, but did leave some residue on the leather. Next I removed the pressure sensitive tape from the pages of the text block with a tacking iron. I repositioned the now loose folios, cleaned the spine, and lined it with Japanese tissue and linen. Then I repaired the sewing at the break.
I worked on the images while my spine liners were drying. I removed the tape from all the images and lined the sheets with heat set tissue. The images were on single sheets, which I collated and guarded together. Then I tipped them on to the front of the text block with a thin strip of Japanese tissue.
Then I lifted the leather on the cover and attached the text block via the linen. I constructed a new spine piece from linen lined Morike and added a 10 pt board stiffener. I attached this under the leather, the glued the leather back down. Finally, I put some PVA and Japanese tissue on the corners to reshape them, and covered the linen hinge with a strip of Japanese tissue (paste).

This book was an experiment in toning techniques for leather. I toned the new spine piece prior to attaching, and I tried to stipple a variety of hues to better match the leather. My colors were a little light for this book, but overall I was pleased with how it looked. I plan on trying this technique again on other books.