A Summery Summary

So, as far as this blog is concerned, I went to Idaho and promptly dropped off the face of the map. Here is a quick summary of my remaining weeks of summer:

I last left you to attend a two week workshop with Jim Croft, who has been making books in the style of medieval Europe for at least the past twenty years. He is also known for his tool making, and his bone folders are famous among bookbinders and conservators throughout America. The course started with paper making, which I had never done before. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but once I did, I was hooked! However, we only made paper for a few days before we progressed to tool making. I made bone folders, awls, and even a few knives, and came home with a number of projects that will last me the next few months.

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Making a bone folder by hand begins with chipping the folder into shape with a hatchet!

We briefly attempted spinning using flax and a drop spindle, but then embarked on our biggest project: making a book in a (mostly) 15th century manner. Everything was done by hand, so we even split logs for boards (and I learned that log splitting is not at this point one of my strengths!)

Putting a medieval book together.

Putting a medieval book together.

This two-week workshop involved a lot of new experiences for me, not least of which was living in the Idaho mountains, divorced (mostly) from indoor plumbing and anything powered by electricity – possibly my biggest challenge! To my surprise, I adjusted very well, and mostly did not miss the modern world at all. Jim and his wife Melody were wonderful hosts and patient teachers, and having left, I am already planning a trip back.

Wouldn't you want to go back? I want to go back.

Wouldn’t you want to go back? I want to go back.

On my return from Idaho, I spent a week at Columbia, finishing my projects, and then I was off to Washington, DC. I spent two weeks at the Library of Congress, where I assisted with research on ethanol modified treatments of documents with iron gall ink. Here, I got an inside look at large scale experimentation that I probably could not have got anywhere else. I also had the opportunity to attend a conference on bindings at the Folger Shakespeare Library, which was fascinating in the diversity of the research presented.

Doing bulk treatments for the Library of Congress experiment. Image credit: Julie Biggs and Yasmeen Khan.

Doing bulk treatments for the Library of Congress experiment. Image credit: Julie Biggs and Yasmeen Khan.

And with that, my summer ended! I took two weeks off to relax and spend time with family and friends, and then it was back to New York and the Institute of Fine Arts, recharged and (somewhat) ready to face the second year of graduate school.

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About Saira

Saira is a newly fledged book conservator currently based in New York.
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