Studio Reopening

New Studio

Finally my new studio is set up.

In a fairly compact space, I’ve managed to squeeze in 21 linear feet of workbench surface and all the essential equipment for bookbinding and book conservation.  Equipment includes a circa. 1895 Jacques board shear, Hickock lying press, Nilfisk GS80 HEPA variable speed vacuum, Hickock 001/2 book press, Schaefer S2 stamping press, Peachey manual board slotting machine, Altair spine stamping machine, and a Museum Services cold suction platen.

Rereading Planning and Constructing Book and Paper Conservation Laboratories proved useful when thinking about my new space. It is borderline embarrassing that I even found my own chapter useful. I would like to add one bit of advice: although it is fun to think about the efficient storage of commonly used materials and tools, it is equally important to know when to stop theorizing and try things out for a while.

The bench tops are all a double layer of 3/4″ maple faced plywood with at least a 2″ overhang for clamping. They are 37.5″ high, and the main bench 32″ deep. I decided to try the “other” position for the book press; the opening is positioned 90 degrees relative to the front of the mounting surface. This should make sighting critical alignments easier, ie. press board to book board edge.

The island workspace on top of the flat files serves three functions: a convenient place to examine and discuss treatments with clients, a nice big desk for writing, and is great for natural light photography, since it is equidistant between two windows. My most used reference books are easily accessible.

Soon, back to book work….

Book Jack

Many forms of book wedges are available for the reading room, ranging from the familiar Clarkson foam, wood ones, as well as some newer ideas from the At the Bench blog.  There are also many options for the safe display of books.  A third need — to secure books partially open while undergoing treatment and examination — seems to have been ignored, or commonly jerry rigged with weights and pressing boards as the need arises.

I developed the in-situ book conservation fixture to securely hold a textblock open while performing page repairs, working under magnification, media consolidation, etc. It is large and heavy, and can easily accommodate parchment textblocks.

The book jack is small, lightweight, and designed for use on the workbench. It quickly and easily adjusts from 15 to 60 degrees, locks securely into place by a built in handle, and provides a more rigid support than foam. This fixture that holds the book, or boards, open in a wide variety of positions to reduce strain while performing treatments.   The small size permits it to be used inside a book to work on board edges and corners. It can also be used to support a textblock upright when rebacking or humidifying warped vellum boards, although additional weights may be necessary to stabilize it.  I use this fixture constantly, from initial examination throughout the treatment.

The natural, translucent .25 inch thick polypropylene platens are lined with an easily replaceable .0625 inch thick closed cell polyethylene foam ( aka. Volara). The adjustment mechanism is 6061 T6 aluminum and a comfort grip handle, which has a lower profile than the platens at any angle, so that relatively large books can be supported.

Item#  BJ-1 $125.00 for one, or $225.00 pair

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In-situ Book Conservation Fixture

Added 15 March 2016: A newer version of this fixture: https://jeffpeachey.com/2016/03/15/improved-book-fixture/


A jig guides a tool, whereas a fixture supports the workpiece – in this case is a bound book. Increasingly, much of a book conservator’s work involves working in-situ without disbinding a textblock. This fixture safely and securely supports the parts of the book not being worked on while treating pages. The idea for this fixture was originally developed by Raymond Jordan, Senior Book Conservator at Trinity College, Dublin (for an image of his version in use, see Preservation and Conservation in Small Libraries, ed. Hadgraft and Swift, 1994), with additional improvements by Chela Metzger, Conservator of Library Collections at Winterthur Museum, Delaware.

Many conservators construct impromptu assemblages, but this fixture professionally, safely, and securely holds printed books and manuscripts, even those with heavy wood boards, bosses and other furniture. It supports the text-block and board, so that the spine and sewing structure is not stressed while work is done on the pages; repairing tears, media consolidation, flattening dogeared corners, dry cleaning, etc…. It can also be used to support the text-block when flattening warped or distorted vellum bindings. Text-block are rarely planar: working in-situ enables the conservator to repair tears that conform to the natural undulations of a particular place, on a particular page. The hinged bar allows the pages to be quickly turned, yet is braced so it cannot fall down onto the page. Perfect for books with fragile sewing, brittle pages, or any time gentle, secure support is needed when working on bound items. It simplifies and speeds up the treatment process when many pages of a text-block need attention.

The bed size is 12 x 17 inches, a heavy anti-tipping 1.5” thick, and the maximum supplied thickness books is 6 inches. Fits octavo through folio books. If a thicker book is encountered, extension pieces can be purchased for a nominal charge. This support can be used with oversize books with slight modifications, instructions included. Adjustable arm levers allow a full range of clamping angles, no tools necessary. The front page bar is hinged to allow quick page turns. The uprights hinge from 0 degrees (parallel to the bed) to 180 degrees. Constructed out of aircraft grade plywood with a 1.5” thick base to resist tipping, polypropylene and clear anodized 6105-T5 aluminum. Custom sizes available.

In-situ Book Conservation Fixture   $750.00