Annual Staff Development Day


Every year in July, I try to take items to show at the Open Class at the Boone County Fair, and sometimes I’ve taken things I’ve made at work.  This year, I had four entries for the miscellaneous class: an icicle-stitch cord-bound book,  a post-bound guest book, a tool box for my specialty tools, and a bow made from book pages.

Icicle-Stitch-Binding

My icicle-stitch book had been started at a staff development day several years ago, but was never completed, so I decided it was time to finish it and make it an interesting book by attaching the cover with Bookmakers Irish hemp cords.

Post-Binding

The post-bound guest book was made right after I had to do one for work and decided I needed to do another one for practice and as a model.  It served another purpose at the All 70’s BHS Class Reunion the weekend following the county fair.  The cover of the guest book featured a copy of Boone’s matador mascot “the Toreador” and was covered in red and green bookcloth (yes, our school colors are Christmas red and green!)  I had guests sign in with red and green markers as they “oohed and aahed” over the guest book with its red and green colored ribbons and silver beads spelling out “Boone” and “Toreadors.”

ToolBox

A while back, I received my own set of Caselli spatulas and tools. I decided I needed a nice box to keep them in to protect them at work when not in use.  We don’t buy boxes here in Preservation, we make them!  The box I made has two lift out Ethafoam cushioned trays and a cushioned bottom to store my Caselli tools, a brass triangle, specialty bone folders, and other miscellaneous tools.  Of course, I used my favorite Canapetta Natural bookcloth from Talas to cover the box.

PaperBow

My last entry was a paper bow made from the pages of a discarded children’s book during a staff development day, and it can be hung on a tree or wall as an ornament.

All four entries received blue ribbons and each received good comments.  This is just another way to show off my talents from work and support the Open Class at the Boone County Fair.

ISU Library's new Cataloging and Metadata Management Librarian, Kelly, tries her hand at paper marbling.

ISU Library’s new Cataloging and Metadata Management Librarian, Kelly, tries her hand at paper marbling.

Using materials from Hollander’s Complete Marbling Kit and Galen Berry’s The Art of Marbling on Paper and Fabric as a reference guide, the Preservation Department recently held a voluntary staff development day exploring paper marbling.  The Conservation Unit staff, our volunteer Martha, and our Lennox Intern, Susanna, were joined by Jim from the Preservation Services Unit and Lori from the Digital Initiatives Unit.  We had one participant from outside the Preservation Department, the new Cataloging and Metadata Management Librarian, Kelly.  Why invite someone to coffee when you can invite her to get to know your department over a paper marbling tray instead?

Susanna, our Lennox Intern, and I prepared the paper to be marbled the day before the workshop.  The marbling kit came with a stack of small, 7″ x 10″ sheets of paper, but we also cut down some 17″ x 22″ sheets (the largest size that would fit comfortably in the marbling tray) of toothy, white endsheet stock and cream-colored Permalife.  We sponged an alum solution onto one side of the sheets of paper, marking the non-alum-treated side with a small pencil mark to distinguish it later.  The alum helps the marbling paint stick to the paper.  We let the sheets dry, and then pressed them overnight in an oversized book press to mitigate the slight amount of cockling from the alum treatment.  We also mixed up a carageenan sizing solution, which would form the “bath” on top of which the marbling paints would float.

Step 1: adding colors to the bath.

Step 1, adding colors to the bath.  Clockwise from top left: Susanna; Melissa; Lori and Jim; Martha.

The marbling process is simple in theory, but extremely challenging to execute deftly on the first (or second, or third) try.  First, each paint color is mixed with a drop or two of gall, which acts as a surfactant, helping to spread the color out on the surface of the carageenan bath.  The colors are added drop by drop to the bath, then “stirred” by dragging an acrylic dowel back and forth in evenly spaced lines through the entire bath.

Top: "Stirring" the colors with a dowel. Bottom: Various combs and rakes for creating complex patterns.

Top: Step 2, “stirring” the colors with a dowel.  Bottom: Various combs and rakes for creating complex patterns. (Before you ask, yes, that is a Black Power ‘fro pick with a peace sign.  It came in the kit.)

Once the colors have been stirred, a variety of combs and rakes can be dragged through the paint in straight lines, wave patterns, or figure-eights, resulting in an amazing complexity of patterns.  When the pattern is ready, a sheet of paper is gently floated on the surface of the bath (alum-treated side touching the bath).

Lifting marbled paper out of the bath.

Step 3, laying down the paper and then lifting it out of the bath.

The paper is then carefully lifted, placed in a second tray, and rinsed with cool water to remove the excess sizing before being laid out on a rack or hung to dry.  We had a great time experimenting with color and patterns, but perhaps the most significant lesson we learned was how much practice and skill it takes to master traditional paper marbling!

Our best efforts, with mixed results.

The fruits of our labor.

This month, the 1091 Project takes a quick peek at one aspect of departmental culture in the conservation labs of Iowa State University Library and Duke University Libraries.  To celebrate the end of each Fall semester, ISU Preservation Department holds a “staff development day.”  The staff vote on a type of project or handskill to work on during the day-long workshop, we gather our resources, and then have at it.  This year, we decided to take our theme from the discussion/debate arising from a recent blog post, and settled on upcycling discarded paper-based materials such as books, dust-jackets, magazines, and maps.  Preservation Assistant Mindy McCoy created this Pinterest board full of project ideas to inspire and instruct us.

A bookcart overflowing with craft supplies and materials to be "upcycled."

A bookcart overflowing with craft supplies and materials to be “upcycled.”

Lori meticulously cut strips from pages of children's books which she will later fold, chain together, and weave into a basket.

Lori, from Digital Initiatives, meticulously cut strips from pages of children’s books which she will later fold, chain together, and weave into a basket.

One popular project several of us tried was building a gift topper bow out of strips of paper secured with double-sided tape.  Pictured here are bows made from dust-jackets from architecture coffee table books, a map, and pages from a Russian dictionary.

One popular project several of us tried was building a gift topper bow out of strips of paper secured with double-sided tape. Pictured here are bows made from dust-jackets from architecture coffee table books, a map, and pages from a Russian dictionary.

Conservation Technician Mindy Moe turned a gift topper bow into an ornament.

Conservation Technician Mindy Moe turned a gift topper bow into an ornament with a button, ribbon, hot glue, and a little ingenuity.

Our conservation volunteer Martha went big!  She rolled maps into a sunburst around a decorative mirror.

Our conservation volunteer Martha went big! She rolled maps into a sunburst around a decorative mirror.

Jim, from Preservation Services, turned a book about fish into a beautiful sculpture.

Jim, from Preservation Services, turned a book about fish into a 3D sculpture.

Jim also created this tribute to his friend's dog Floyd, who has since moved on to that great dog kennel in the sky, but not before chewing up this case binding.

Jim also created this tribute to his friend’s dog Floyd, who has since moved on to that great dog kennel in the sky, but not before chewing up this case binding.

Now let’s see how they’re observing the end of the semester and the approach of the winter holidays over at Preservation Underground!