In July I went to a course titled Design and Construction of Mounts for Exhibit at the International Preservation Studies Center, Mt. Carroll, Ill., aka “museum camp”.  Students in attendance came from Texas, Ohio, Washington D.C. (National Air and Space Museum), Boston (Peabody Museum), Kansas City (Nelson-Atkins Museum) and Iowa City (UI Museums).

Here are some images illustrating my experience.

The classroom

The shop/fabrication area with the power tools

Slanted acrylic display with shelf

The acrylic was bent using a hot wire bender. The display shelf that holds the object was attached with Weld-On 4. Pieces were cut on the table saw with all edges filed, wet-sanded and polished.

Acrylic wall mount for a small bell

Curves were cut on the band saw, straight cuts were made on a table saw. The small piece that fits in the slot in the base of the object was cut on the band saw. Pin holes were drilled on a drill press. All edges were filed, wet-sanded and polished.

Demonstration: Braising brass rods with silver solder

A student braising under the fume hood

“Spider mount”

4 pieces of brass rods joined together, covered with either Polyolifin Heat-Shrink Tubing or surgical tubing.

Basket on spider mount from the front

Basket from the back

This basket wasn’t exactly round so I had to keep track of its orientation when mounting it.  By noting where the accession number had been written on the bottom of the basket and lining that up with the support, I got it into the same position every time. Since the basket is a woven item, this mount would not be a good option for long term display, as the rods could distort the basket over time.

Hat form carved from Ethafoam and covered with polyester batting and cotton stretch fabric

Bottom of the hat form with the brass rod and plate

The metal plate is there to keep the rod from being inserted further. A circular slit is cut in the base of the form to tuck in the edge of the covering fabric, so that it is held in place.

My hat with pins from an LA to DC bicycle ride.

This is not the final base for the hat, since I ran out of time in the class. Most people felt like they finally had the braising  down just in time for the class to end. The metal-working  was complex enough that it could have been a class by itself.

A shaped brass mount for a medallion

A piece of flat brass was bent to confirm to the shape of the medallion. 3 tabs were braised onto the flat piece to fold around the medallion’s edge.  The disc holder was then braised to another brass rod and inserted into a two-layer acrylic base. The wood piece was the original base that came with the piece.

Lined with Angel Suede

Another name for this material is Deccofelt. It cushions the object and protects it from being scratched by the mount. It is almost, but not quite finished. The wood base still needs to be pinned on and the rod may need to be shortened. To color the base or to cover the base? This was something that was touched upon in the class but the topics of in-painting and finishing are extensive enough that they could also be covered in a separate  class.

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 On August 8, Sonya and I attended a staff tour of the Library Storage Building (LSB) here at ISU. The offsite storage building holds mostly general collections, with a small number of lower use or larger size special collections items. The tour was a sort of “after” view of the building and storage area, although I was not here to see the “before” tour. The building had been having environmental control issues from leaks in the roof to non-functioning HVAC. “Before” pictures hanging on the wall showed how the staff had to deal with these problems with large tarps and hoses to catch and drain the water away from the collections materials and the electronics powering the compact shelving. After extensive work and repairs including a brand-new roof and HVAC system, the collections storage area now looks amazing!

It was so interesting to hear about the activities that go on behind the scenes at the LSB every day, including interlibrary loans, shelving and organizing newly arrived collections, and working to maintain order of the materials so they can be accessed easily for library users. One interesting thing that I came away with from the tour was just how much environmental control issues can affect workflows. As a conservator, my mind is always on the collections and the impact of inappropriate temperature and humidity on the physical materials. However, the leaks and other problems causes huge problems for the staff as well, who had to wear headlamps at one point just to do their jobs!

Another highlight of the tour was seeing some of the amazing collection materials on display, including trade catalogs with dyed fabric swatches, still vibrant because of the protection from light, as well as some beautiful atlases and architectural sketchbooks. So, go and explore the online catalog, because you never know what treasures are hiding in the LSB!

front1922mapIMG_20170822_103658294Recently I received a map from the cataloging area that needed some mending and housing then on to the general collection stacks.  Of course it being a map there were holes in most of the folded areas and it needed to be humidified and flattened first before any work could be accomplished.  After humidification I had a nice flat map to work on with lots of tears.  The Armour’s Food Source Map of 1922 was a wealth of information not only on the front but also on the back.  The front consisted of bright beautiful colors mapping out the United States and the legend describing the markings.  I noted Iowa as having a wide variety of resources included in the state-cattle, corn, dairy, poultry, sheep, swine, wheat, oats, rye, and barley whereas the state of Nevada only had sheep.Iowa1922mapIMG_20170822_103725550

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The back of the map contained interesting submissions about “pickling winter meats for summer trading,” “refrigeration cars (artificial refrigeration)” and “hundreds of useful articles are now made from animal products once wasted.”  Valuable information that shows how far we’ve come in the meat packing industry.

 

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At the bench

Hi! My name is Emilie Duncan, and I am the 2017 Lennox conservation intern. I come to Iowa from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), by way of Charlottesville, Virginia, where I just completed my third year internship at the University of Virginia Library. Although technically I do not graduate with my Library and Archival Materials Conservation degree until later in August, the completion of my internship year is a major achievement and I am viewing this internship at ISU as my first post-graduate professional position. I was drawn to this internship because of the collections here at Parks Library, which include a wide range of archival materials, rare books, and objects. I studied Historic Preservation in undergrad, and from this gained an interest in historical objects of use as well as architectural and technical drawings. This internship will allow me to gain additional experience with these types of materials in an academic library setting.

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Reviewing materials for a library exhibit with an online component

I am just getting started here at ISU, but I already have several treatment and non-treatment projects going, which I will be writing about in future posts. Part of my learning experience here will be simply understanding how the lab works and how the workflows are adapted to the specific collections and user population at Iowa State. By comparing and contrasting this information with other conservation labs I have worked in and will work in, I can gain insight that will help me make the most of my environments in the future.

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First treatment, generated by a patron’s digitization order

I am really looking forward to settling into the flow of the lab and exploring campus and beautiful Ames (although I will admit I am glad I won’t be here to experience an Iowan winter!) You will hear from me again soon!

On June 1, 2017, I began my 32nd year at the ISU Library. In the early years, my job morphed from a documents librarian to a Reference Librarian with instruction and collection development duties. At the turn of the century, yes the 21st one, I added oversight for the library building including safety and security to my repertoire. Then in 2008, I dropped the reference/instruction aspects to concentrate on the library spaces. Over the past three years, I have been focused on the development of our library spaces feasibility plan and now the upcoming restroom renovations.

With nearly 20 years of experience with the building, I thought I knew the library physical spaces inside and out. But during last two architect tours of the building, I discovered new places and learned interesting tidbits about the building.

During tours of the mechanical/electrical rooms, I noticed that workers used walls for their scratch paper. Various calculations and notes were written presumably for the operations of the machinery located in these spaces as shown in photographs below

20170615_093231Measurements for panels

20170615_093129More measurements

20170615_093223Simplified schematic of the electrical circuitry for a water valve

Another one of my interesting finds in a mechanical room was a set of pipes that at first glance looked like plumbing pipes. But if you know plumbing, a “y” joint is never used for joining in two pipes coming in opposite directions. So what was this set of pipes? Well, the original building had a feature that many homeowners would love to have…centralized vacuum system. The second photo shows a  capped opening in the Periodical Room.

20170615_093136“Y” joint for the centralized vacuum system

20170706_080830Capped opening for centralized vacuum system

In many of the mechanical/electrical rooms, I discovered evidence of the original building which was concealed by the new construction needed for the 1960’s additions. The original building material was the large slabs of limestone in these photographs.

20170706_081700  Original building in a mechanical room

20170615_100240  Original building in an electrical room

During the next few years as the library undergoes a revitalization of its physical spaces, I wonder what else will be undercovered, revealed, or exposed. Stay tuned.

There are many things that go into what we call “job satisfaction”. These things differ from individual to individual.  Some of us may be looking for innovation and for a challenge. Others want to feel that they are a part of a team. Still others want to be left alone to do their work so that they can experience their “flow”.  Looking around my office today, I was reminded of the things that make my job satisfying to me.

I feel that my family is always at work with me (in a good way!), it’s a family-friendly culture. It is understood that our lives at home matter. Being able to devote our time and energy to our “other” lives after work makes us better employees. Friendlier, more enthusiastic, more relaxed and, consequently, better-functioning in stressful situations. Not having to worry about taking off time to take my kid to the dentist or to go to a school conference gives me peace of mind that feeds back into my work.

Another thing that I feel lucky about at work is that I am encouraged to carve out time for treatment. Yeah yeah yeah, we all know it’s easier said than done. But receiving validation in this elusive pursuit keeps me trying. I love treatment! Most of us got into this profession because we wanted to be at the bench. Which is a hard place to stay, if you ever started your career there in the first place. But like I said – I keep on trying. For me, treatment is work, fun and therapy all rolled into one. So heck, I am certainly motivated!

We spend more time at work than we do at home with our loved ones. We’ve got to make sure that we enjoy it, as much as possible!

 

A Cute Little Box

There are days when you see something and you just need to make a box for it. We had a punch set that we use in box making and its outer wrapper of hard clear plastic was falling apart with broken edges of sharp rough plastic. It definitely needed to be tossed. I like to keep up on my box making skills so a quick box was in order.

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When I am making boxes one of my favorite book cloths to work with is Canapetta Natural. I like the feel, look, and workability of this book cloth.

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I used Velcro coins (dots) to hold the box securely shut when not in use. The black foam insert and cover label that was in the plastic box easily transferred over to this new box. If this box needed to be used for something else or we purchase a bigger punch set, this box can be easily converted to its next job. Now I won’t worry about losing punch pieces!

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