Take a Peep into the Conservation Lab!
More images here: http://www.katherineswiftkelly.com/peeps/peeps.html
This 2008 lecture begins with “European hand bookbinding practice does not form the best foundation on which to build or even graft the principles of book conservation.” Christopher Clarkson, 1978. Even in our screen-driven age, the book still carries monetary, artistic and symbolic value, in addition to its intellectual content. What skills must a book conservator have to treat damaged rare books properly? Is the restoration/conservation of books a craft related to bookbinding? And if so, what is the best way to teach that craft? I have been teaching book conservation at the graduate level since 2001, but to me these questions remain unsettled and unsettling. I hope to bring together observations from my life as a librarian, bookbinder, book conservator, and educator to explore the skills needed for book conservation in the 21st century.
Consuela “Chela” Metzger is a librarian, bookbinder and book conservator currently teaching full-time at the Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record University of Texas at Austin School of Information. After completing an internship in rare book conservation at the Library of Congress in 1994, Ms. Metzger worked as a project conservator for over five years at the Huntington Library rare book collections in San Marino, Calif. She also worked as one of the teachers for the Lampadia/Getty-sponsored conservation education program for visiting South American conservators. In Fall, 2000, Ms. Metzger conducted a 3 month Fulbright Lectureship in Argentina. She occasionally teaches workshops in special collections conservation in Latin America, and writes articles and book reviews in the field of book arts and bookbinding in the US. She has a particular interest in Latin American print culture, the history of books and reading, and the material culture of record keeping structures used in archives and accounting. She was also a member of The Bonefolder’s editorial board.
As Slate pointed out, the internet loves crappytaxidermy. While we may not have much to contribute to that illustrious canon, we do know taxidermy. Our video "Modeling Animals in Habitat Dioramas" about how artists create the animal sculptures for the Museum’s famous habitat dioramas, shows what it takes to create a meticulously accurate specimen.
“It’s once in a lifetime someone packs up a T-rex and delivers it to your front door” - Matthew Carrano, smithsonian ‘s National Museum of Natural History
We welcomed home the #NationsTrex today, after a very carefully packed cross-country journey. Now visitors will be able to see curators and staff carefully unpack, catalog, photograph and 3-D scan the 66-million-year-old fossil in the Rex Room before it is sent off for cleaning.
Sigh, I’m living in minimum wage world.
Book down the toilet
Recycling books is of all ages. Well known are the actions of bookbinders in the 16th and 17th centuries, who cut up medieval manuscripts and used their pages to support bindings (see for an example here). Some time ago I blogged about fragments of medieval love poetry that were used for the lining of a bishop’s mitre. The case of recycling seen here, however, may just top these examples. You are looking at an 18th-century copy of the Historia universalis that was revamped to become a portable toilet. Once you open the book, which stands half a meter high, two wooden boards fold out, while a third forms the top, featuring the all-important hole. Presto: a commode - or bed pan holder - was born. It’s both a brilliant design - made for portable use - and, I’m sure, the dream toilet of book-lovers.
Pic: I am not sure who first reported on this book, but I recently encountered it in a post by Neotarama (here). More detailed information on this commode-book, which sold at a book auction in 2008, here.