Keeping Up-to-Date with an Age-Old-Art

JMU Libraries’ Preservation Officer Attends Summer Workshops at Cat Tail Run School for Bookbinding Arts by Julia Merkel The time to hone “bench” skills, learn new repair techniques, and catch up with colleagues in the book arts is always a welcome opportunity. This Summer, I was able to attend three workshops at the Cat Tail Run Bindery. Incidentally, the school and bindery are run by proprietor Jill Deiss, a JMU graduate. The bindery opened in 1991, and the School for Bookbinding Arts followed soon after as an alternative to traditional apprenticeships. Deiss believes that bookbinding can be effectively taught through short, focused courses within a carefully designed curriculum (perfect for working professionals.) She has seen her students develop advanced skills with many going on to full conservation training. Cat Tail Run is a busy and magical little place tucked away in the wooded rolling hills northwest of Winchester, Virginia. Customers of the bindery are as varied as private citizens wishing to have family bibles restored or new theses and dissertations bound to oversize county record books built to withstand extremely heavy use to prestigious institutions such as the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Cathedral, or the Smithsonian requiring period appropriate Continue reading Keeping Up-to-Date with an Age-Old-Art

The Blackley Brownie in Focus

Written by Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell. Brownie cameras gave birth to amateur photography in the early 20th century. This one from the Blackley Collection is a No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie dating from 1917-1926 and it’s in especially great shape. First produced in 1900, early Brownies were made of cardboard and the cheap material allowed them to be sold for only $2.00. Ours is a later edition made from aluminum and would have been costlier but longer lasting. Because these new cameras were inexpensive and small they could be used by anyone and were even marketed towards children. Soldiers often took them overseas because they were easy to carry and use in the field. No one had never seen anything like them and incredible accessibility of this new photography tool revolutionized news and the way people saw the world.

Preservation Puzzles: Creating Custom Housing

Written by: Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell. Three dimensional objects in the Blackley Collection were processed in Preservation for long term storage this Summer. Among these objects are: an early Brownie camera, a hand-colored milk glass plate photograph, a ruby glass souvenir creamer from the 1893 World’s Fair, and a metal documents canister c.1890. Creating custom mounts for the artifacts helps extend their lives and keeps them from damaging each other in storage. Objects must be separated from their neighbors not only to prevent abrasion and breakage but also to minimize the chemical reactions that speed up decay. Materials age at different rates, and any losses such as flaking paint or rust from corrosion are contained within each custom box or folder.