The Conservation of Leather Bookbindings Workshop at Notre Dame, an Overview by Jen Hunt Johnson

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The Conservation lab at Reyniers recently hosted a week-long workshop with Jeff Peachey on the Conservation of Leather Bookbindings, organized by Liz Dube and supported by the American Institute for Conservation. You may remember Jeff from his 2018 presentation in Rare Books and Special Collections on his treatment of Dante’s La Commedia, from 1477.

Seven conservators took part in the workshop, in addition to our conservation staff at Reyniers. The hands-on, intensive workshop covered treatment decision-making, various repair techniques, leather working skills, and tool sharpening. Our group took time out to visit RBSC to view the 1477 Dante up close with Jeff and enjoy the exhibits on display. Thanks to Julie Tanaka for hosting our group.

The workshop provided the rare opportunity to learn, practice, and share with colleagues from other institutions. It was a lot of fun! We are grateful to Jeff, and to our colleagues who were able to make it to campus and stay focused during such a challenging week. Special thanks to Tosha McComb, Neil Chase, and Kathy Colbert for their flexibility and support during the workshop.

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Originally posted by ND Preservation on Tumbler.

Conservation of Leather Bookbindings Workshop

New Tool for Sale! The Creaser

The creaser is making a dark line with a flat bottom even when used at room temperature. 

Using a creaser is one of the easiest ways to impress a solid black line in leather. Simply dampen the leather overall, score a line with a bone folder and straightedge, then rub the creaser back and forth. Or some prefer to score a straight line on dry leather, wet the line with a small brush, then use the creaser. The lines I made in the images were done with a room temperature tool, though with some leathers a darker line develops if used warm — but not hot.

Overall length is about thirteen inches. The maple handle is eleven inches and octagonally shaped. 

The design of this creaser is based on an early 20th century Frederick Westpfall tool in my collection. You can burnish the line you make by “jiggering” it back and forth, increasing pressure as it forms a groove. The burnishing gives the dark blind line a sheen. Once a basic depression is formed, the creaser slides like a cross country ski in a groomed track. The length of the handle allows for two-handed use to apply extra pressure, and you can even lean into it a bit with your shoulder.

The resulting blind line is flat on the bottom and reflects light evenly, unlike marking leather with a bone folder or other irregularly shaped object. Since the tool is usually used at ambient temperatures or only slightly warmed, there is no risk of burning the leather.

Top view of the creaser with hammering marks left in place. 

The thick maple handle is easy to grasp with one or two hands, and lean into with your shoulder. Overall length is about thirteen inches. Brass head with maple handle.

Order your creaser here.

Three Holiday Gift Ideas for Bookbinders under $50!

Last chance to order inexpensive bookbinding and conservation tools for the Holidays! Please note orders received after midnight Friday December 20 will ship January 6, 2020.

Genuine Horsebutt Strop

All strops wear out over time, often because a misplaced knife has dug a small hole in it.  Start of 2020 with a nice clean horsebutt strop!   Buy your new genuine horsebutt strop for only $25.

 

.9mm Microknife

This was my best selling item at the Guild of Book Workers Conference a few months ago, and is new for this year. Perfect for intricate cuts in tissue and paper. Paper conservators love it for infills. Artists love it to make stencils. And everyone loves the cleaver design that retracts completely into the standard supplied .9mm mechanical pencil handle.  Order your micro knife for only $35!

 

Delrin Hera

A delrin hera rapidly becomes indispensable for many bookbinding and conservation tasks.  I use it to gently turn leaves of fragile books, delaminate hinges of matted artwork, hold leaves down during photography, insert adhesive into bent book corners, score tissue for dry tearing, and to pry apart covering material when rebacking. But you won’t pry this beauty out of my hand. Get your own delrin hera for only $45!