Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Phase Boxes

Well, I made two more phase boxes for some photo albums that belonged to the Vanderbilt family today.  It all started out so well, but ended up not too good.

The first box went like a dream, but it’s just a smidgen too small.  I don’t know how it happened.

The second – well, I should have quit while I was ahead.  It started out well.  The measuring was difficult, but I thought I got it right.  Obviously not.

  • The top cover was longer than the bottom.
  • The hinge was curved upward and tied with some sort of leather.  The ends of which were on the underside of the album and had large metal pieces attached to them.

The laying out of the lines went really well.  Then the trouble began.  I marked the lines to decrease the tray by one board width on each side and started cutting.  I couldn’t believe it when I realized I had cut the wrong line.  I cut off a side wall!  Ahhhhhhh.

So I started again.  Somehow this box came out wayyyyyy too large.  The width was fine, but the height was off by two board widths.  I just couldn’t believe it.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have forwarded my calls to the conference room so that I could keep up with the administrative side of things today. It did keep distracting me.

I think I’ll just chalk this up to a learning experience.  I’m going to redo the boxes next week.  Fortunately, I bought enough board just in case something like this happened.

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Giving Thanks

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for.  I had a wonderful sabbatical experience where I learned a tremendous amount and got to spend a lot of time with my son.  I’ve had a lot of support in my return to work and in assuming my new role in the department (I’ve current department chair, scarily enough).  And, the library sees the value in what I’ve learned and is encouraging me to do more.  Plus, the College is going to display some of the books and boxes I’ve made some time next spring.

I’m very fortunate to have a job that provides support for continuing education in both funds and time.   As a result, I’ve gotten the funds to buy a board cutter, and I’ve also been granted time to continue learning to bind.  Yeah!

I even got to put my skills to work at work today and made a phase box for a photo album from 1911.  I’ll be making more phase boxes for other items in our Special Collections as well.  It made me feel really good to do that.  It was especially nice to contribute to the department in a new way — other than writing scripts, that is.

I hope everyone has a joyous and happy Thanksgiving.

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The instructions for creating this phase box were given to our instructor by Artemis BonaDea from her unpublished work, “Conservation Book Repair: A Training Manual.” I was lucky enough to find this manual online in PDF format so that I could share it with you. Creating this phase box isn’t is hard as it may sound, and I think it’s a very useful item.

CuttingOnce the lines were drawn out, we actually shifted the dimensions of B slightly so that it would be smaller than A. It was then time to start cutting away the excess. We started with simply cutting away the excess from the spine of the box. Then we marked diagonal lines to create corners. It was Finished cuttingimportant to remember to cut away the inside triangles. We also cut a thumb notch into the cover. This could actually be done with a punch, which would give you a rounded notch. We simply cut a simple triangle. You can see in the picture that the base is slightly smaller than the cover.

Beginning to foldThe next step was to actually score the folds and begin folding. The trick with this was placing a ruler along the fold and folding the board against the ruler after it had been scored. This gave us sharper folds. After that, we did something I found rather tricky. We cut away the corrugation from the remaining triangle pieces. Cutting tabsThis was done by using a microspatula to separate the corrugation from the covering board; folding back the board; and then using a scissor to cut very carefully.

These tabs were then used to glue the sides together using PVA. Paper clips or binder clips can be used to hold the glued pieces together while they dry. Once it was dried, it was ready to hold my book and get a spine label, which I still have to make. 🙂

Drying tabs

Finished construction

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The phase box is used by the Library of Congress, who, by the way, has an excellent site on preservation. This is primarily used to enclose heavy/large/falling to pieces items. It’s not good for a thin book. The book should be at least 1 inch thick.

This is actually made from one large sheet of a single wall acid-free corrugated board. It ends up looking like a clamshell box. It has a book tray made to fit the book and a cover tray that fits over the book tray. What was interesting about making this box was that we constructed jigs for the book to use in making the measurements for the box. We also created a measuring jig to account for one/two/three board thicknesses.

In creating the jigs for the book, we created a square area, placed the book in it, and then measured the height, length, and width of the book. We had to be sure to make each of these measurements in several places on the book, because not all sides would be equal and we wanted to use the largest measurements to be sure the box would fit the books properly.

Book JigFor myself, I wanted to create a box to house my grandfather’s bible. It’s in Swedish so I can’t read it, but I do treasure it because he was a remarkable man.

In marking the jigs it’s important to note the direction that you measured. You can see the arrows noting this on the jigs. It was especially important to note on the thickness. So that you don’t end up marking the wrong dimensions on the corrugated board.

With the corrugated board, it’s easy to tell how the grain runs. For this type of box, the corrugation should run in the direction of the height of the book. As with any other project, it’s important to be sure the board is squared before beginning measuring and cutting. Because this is made from corrugated board, the cutting was done by hand. Using a board cutter will crush the corrugation and make that side unusable.

Marked board After laying out the measurements for the height and width of the box, I took it to the board cutter to use a t-square to mark my lines for folding and cutting. What you see here is the what remained to make the box after cutting away the excess. I strongly recommend getting a utility knife/snap blade knife for any of these projects. They are much easier to use than a scalpel and more accurate. You may not be able to see it, but the left is marked with an A and the right a B. A is the cover and B is the box base.

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This kind of wrapper is made very much like the case wrapper that is covered in a hard binding. It uses the same 20-point library board and archival double-sided tape. Basically, it is constructed from two strips of library board: one vertical, one horizontal.Again, the first step is determining the grain of the library board. You want to make sure that the grain will run parallel with the folds. This is usually made for something up to an inch in width. It is the simplest of the three enclosures.

Now, unfortunately, I made my enclosure backwards. You want to be able to open the wrapper horizontally. So the first piece, which is the inner wrapper, should be cut about three times the height by the width plus three board thicknesses.

Self-closing wrapperNext, you place the book about 3/4 in from the end and mark your first crease. Stand the book on end to measure the depth and create the next crease. Place the end of the book at that crease to measure the height and mark the next crease. Use a jig made from measuring the first width to create the final crease.

The outside wrapper should be cut about 3 times the width of the book by the height of the book. Both of these measurements should consider the book and the inner wrapper together. Then you create the folds the way we did above. The final product will look something like this:

sc2.jpgAs you can see, I made this for a graphic novel, Fray. Fray is a vampire slayer in the future, who doesn’t know what she is. This was originally published as a comic series, which I have, of course, and was written by Joss Whedon. Yes, the same Joss Whedon who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thus, I couldn’t resist this. Excellent!

The next step is to secure the two wrappers to each other using that double-sided tape. After that, it’s time to create the tab and slot to complete the enclosure.

Tab jigTo create the tab, you want to make a jig first. This jig is made from left over board that is the same width as your closing side. You begin by making a line 1 1/4 inch up from the bottom. Then mark a second line 3/4 inch above that. Next, find the middle of the board and draw a dotted line. Mark a line 1 or 1 1/2 inches on each side of that dotted line up to the first line. Then draw a line from that corner to the outside point where the second line ends. Cut away those pieces. The final jig will look something like this.

Cutting the lineNow, just lay the jig on the cover and mark where the tab will go. Open the wrapper, remove the book, and cut the tab. To create the slot, put a dot at the inside corners of the tab and draw a straight line. Then open the wrapper, remove the book, and cut the line.
The wrapper is now complete. Yeah! 🙂
Completed self-closing wrapper

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At this point, it’s time to make the case. It is made very much as if you were creating a hard-backed book. It is very important to determine the grain of the book board before cutting. The grain must run the same direction as the height of the book, otherwise it will warp when it is glued.

The front and back covers should measure:

  • 1 board thickness wider than the actual book in its case wrapper, and
  • 2 board thicknesses wider than the height.

The spine should be exactly the same as the book in its case wrapper.

Looking at what I just wrote, the measurements don’t look exactly right, but that’s what I have in my notes.

We also created a 1/4 inch spacer at this point that we used for marking the hinge.

Cut boards

Once the boards are cut, it’s time to cut a hinge and cover papers. The hinge and cover papers can be made out of one piece for a uniform cover, or you can have different papers for the covers and the spine. I went with two different papers.

The hinge piece should be cut so that it’s the width of the spine + 1/4 inch on each side for the hinge + 3/4 inch on each side to partially cover the covers. For it’s length, we cut basically twice the length so that it could wrap around on the inside

The cover pieces are cut so that they are have an additional 3/4 inches at the top and bottom and again about twice the width so that they can wrap around the inside.

I always find gluing the paper to the boards to be the hardest part. Basically, you lie your boards on the paper and mark where you want them to be. You then glue the paper and places the boards where you’ve marked. You then flip the board and paper over and rub them with the bone folder to remove the excess glue and get rid of any creases.

When you glue the paper, you have to make sure to do it in a circular motion, so that the glue spreads out evenly from the center. This is because the paper will bend as the glue is applied and it helps to keep it even.

When gluing the case, you glue the hinge first. The spine goes down, and when you glue the covers, it’s important to use the spacer between the spine and the covers to make sure you’ll have enough room for the hinge to bend. You always want to use the bone folder to create the hinges by making sure the paper enters the creases and adheres.

In glueing the cover paper, you can choose to overlap the spine paper or abut it. In either case, once the paper is adhered, you need to wrap the paper around to the inside. Before doing that, it’s necessary to cut away a small triangular area going towards the spine from the top and bottom at the outer corners. This allows you to fold the paper over without creating huge bulges. This would make more sense if I could show you a photo, but alas when gluing timing is everything, and I didn’t photograph this part. You then glue the top and bottom and then glue the piece you are folding into the inside. The final product will look rather like this:

Finished cover

This now needs to dry overnight while being pressed. The next day, we attached the case wrapper.

Inside case with wrapper

The case wrapper is attached with the archival double-sided tape. The same way the two pieces of the wrapper were attached. As you can see, the one open side of the case wrapper is placed so that is facing the spine of the case.

Finished product

Closed case

You may notice a little red on the cover. I bled for my art. Short cuts are usually made with a scalpel or a snap blade, and I’ve never been too good with a scalpel, I’m afraid. 🙂

At this point, you can attach a spine label. A photocopy of the book’s actual spine or create one on the computer. Maria generally creates them on the computer as you see below.


Well, that’s it. This was the first of the three cases we created. This one obviously took the most time and is a pretty involved process.

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There are two parts to the case wrapper: an inner wrapper and an outer one. In both cases, you want to make sure to measure so that your folds will go with the grain. Look over the book before beginning in case the book is sloped, you will want to allow extra. The inner wrapper should measure approximately three times the height of the book. A case wrapper is made with library board. Library board comes in both 10 pt. and 20 pt. For this project, we used the 20 pt. The case wraping is then enclosed within a case binding, which is made just like you would a regular hard-covered book. This type of enclosure is primarily used for paper back books thicker than 1/4 inch. Why? Because the boards provide extra stability. In my case, I made it for a hard-covered book that I love – Good Omens by Neil Gaiman.
Inner case wrapper
The first step is constructing the inner case wrapper, which wraps around the length of the book. To do this, you begin by determining the grain of the library board. You want the length to go opposite the grain so that your folds will be with the grain. The first piece should be about three times the length of the item. So you literally lie your book on the board, mark the width, and cut.
Next you lie your book about 3/4 of the way in and mark the top. This will be the first fold. To create the fold, you need a straight edge and a bone folder.Creasing the fold First run the bone folder where you want the crease to be so that you create an indentation (aka score the fold). Then fold the paper up to the straight edge and run your bone folder along its back. Finally, fold the paper completely and use the bone folder to really create an edge.
To get the next fold, you stand the book on edge, so that you have the depth. Mark that line and crease the board the same way.

Lay the book down at that point and then mark the top to find where to crease the board for the next flap. And finally, when you have creased that, use a jig to find the depth that you had for the first bend and duplicate it for the second overlap. This flap should overlap the first by 1-2 inches.

Creating the outer wrapperThe outer wrapper is made following the grain. For this one, you lie the book sideways to find where you will be cutting. For this outer wrapper, it’s important to measure the book within its inner wrapper to get the correct dimensions. The outer wrapper should overlap the inner about 3/4 of the width of the book in the back. The front should leave about 1/4 inch. This outer wrapper does not go completely around the book the way the first one does because you will be encasing the wrapper in a hard cover.

Inner and outer wrappers

The two wrappers are joined using archival quality double-sided tape. Depending upon the weight of the book, you may need three strips. One at each end lengthwise and one going diagnolly.

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