Sewing, Snipping and Sticking…

Historic magazines being conserved

Historic magazines being conserved

…it sounds like a family craft event, but this blog post is all about working with the highly skilled conservator at the Hive, helping to care for old books and documents.

I had worked with Rhonda as a volunteer before starting here as a trainee. I had been cleaning quarter session paperwork with a smoke sponge. So my first visit to Rhonda as a trainee involved similar tasks, but on each visit I am learning something new.


Sarah as a trainee conservator

Sarah as a trainee conservator

In keeping with the current theme of World War One Rhonda taught me how to replace the staples in a collection of magazines that contained photographs of battlefields during the war, and 20 years later. The paper of the magazines was in good condition but each one was held together by two rusty staples. So I carefully removed the staples using variously sized microspatulas and using pliers to pull out any bits of the staples that disintegrated on the way out. I gently brushed away any crumbs of rust, then on a bookbinder’s needle I threaded linen thread through the holes the staples left behind. A little knot tying, and snipping off the ends and they look as good as new, and ready to be stored away in the archive for posterity.


Japanese wheat paste to stick newspaper cuttings into the scrapbook

Japanese wheat paste

Having got to grips with cleaning and sewing, the next job was much more technical. The A E Barnard collection of scrapbooks needed their Evesham-themed newspaper cuttings pasted back in. This was a lovely chance to me to read a little about my home town as I worked.

Rhonda mixed Japanese wheat paste, then carefully showed me the techniques involved with this task. I had to apply the paste to Japanese tissue paper then fix it to the piece of newspaper like a stamp hinge. This turned out to be a completely reversible process when we accidentally stuck something in the wrong place, and simply removed the paste with some water. I spent an afternoon sticking the cuttings into several scrap books then going back through to remove bits of scrap paper from within the pages when the paste had had time to dry.

I am really enjoying the opportunity to work with Rhonda as she is highly skilled and luckily a patient teacher. It is an opportunity to do something completely different and to learn what could turn out to be some useful skills.

I can’t wait to see what I might be learning next time.

Conserved scrapbook

Conserved scrapbook

Sarah Ganderton