Conservation


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!

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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Anyone that know me knows how I love rice krispie treats and many years ago I made a batch and ate them all in one day. The next day my mouth was so sore from the abrasive nature of the rice krispies but I just couldn’t help myself. You only do that once. So recently I had a project to work on that was tempting as it still smelled good after 16 years from when first made. It was the World’s Largest Cereal Treat, Rice Krispies Treat confirmed by the Guinness World Records on Friday, April 20, 2001 during Veishea, a campus wide celebration.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies were developed in 1927. What is really interesting is that the rice krispie treat was invented by an Iowa State University alumna, a 1928 graduate of College of Home Economics Mildred Day along with co-worker Malitta Jensen while working at Kellogg’s and used the marshmallow treat as a fundraiser for the Camp Fire Girls shortly after its invention in the 1930s. The “marshmallow squares” were revealed to the public market in the 1940s with its recipe published on a cereal boxes in 1941.Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats Mildred Day

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Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats

Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats

Iowa State University was able to smash the current record holder of a 2,260 pound treat set in October 1997 at Michigan State University. After many batches of treats were made they ended up with a 2,480 pound treat from 818 pounds of Rice Krisipies, 1,466 pounds of marshmallows, and 217 pounds of butter. Image result for mildred day rice krispies treats

After the treat was made it was weighed in at the Physical Plant with cameras marking the progress all along the event. Following the Veishea Parade, the treat was sold on central campus with proceeds given to the Youth & Shelter Services in Ames.

So there’s the history on the Rice Krisipie Treats now back to the one sitting on my desk. I needed to have it go through our freezer process to eliminate any “bug or mold” potential, then I encapsulated it, carved out a bed in Ethaform then lined the bottom with Volara, and added a sewing cloth tape tab to lift it out of the box. This way it is much easier and safer to handle and protected from the elements of storage.

And if you don’t have the time or patience to make the crispy treats you can purchase them premade on your grocery store shelves.  I enjoy them from the Parks Library’s Bookends Café as they are a regular treat made through ISU Dining.

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And for those who can’t get enough of the flavor of marshmallows and Rice Krispies.Rice Krispies Treats Flavored Lip Balm

So there you have probably more information than you ever imagined about the famous Guinness World’s Record holding Iowa State University’s 2001 Rice Krispie Treat and Mildred Day, ISU alumna and inventor.  This item can be viewed at the Parks Library in the Special Collections and University Archives Department.  Now I’m hungry for one!

 

 

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