Volume 4 - Autumn 1997


Letters & Feedback

Romania Update

Maureen Duke has written to us with an update following her article on Romania which appeared in Skin Deep No.1:

On return to the Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory of the Romanian National Library in Bucharest, each time it is gratifying to recognise the progress in confidence and competence of the personnel. It is a chicken and egg situation; without the materials and equipment needed, the binders cannot discover the technology, or require their establishments to provide those necessities. Therefore, we have still far to go in that provision. Our luggage is always up to and beyond the weight the average air traveller will be allowed; but then that average traveller does not carry bundles of leather, roll of repair tissue, alphabets, finishing tools and even a bucket of reversible PVA. The import duties are so high entering Romania that it is not yet viable to send in supplies.

The demonstrations and instructional sessions for two weeks in October/November 1996 drew in nine people from museums in Bucharest and conservators from fourteen cities all over Romania as well as the resident workforce from the National Library. Thirty three in all - and really too large a group to handle in anything more than theory instruction. Nevertheless, with the opportunity to use demonstration volumes from the library and Rare Collections in every state of decay imaginable, one is able to address methods of repair and reconstruction as required by the participants.

To arrive with a preconceived syllabus is of little value, since one cannot make assumptions about the styles of binding and degradation that may have been problems since our last visit Dividing the conservators into groups work partially, but they tend to drift more easily into natural learning patterns. John Sewell's time was largely devoted to finishing, which attracted sporadic participation, and several binders showed leaning in that direction. Others brought in their treasures from their own city collections, so together we discuss and devise restoration and repair methods for them. Those bindings have such a variety and permutation of constructions that the learning and teaching process is mutually inclusive.

In May, 1997, I will perhaps return to visit some of those other cities and learn more of their specific needs and hopefully make some contributions in problem solving. Our thanks go out, as always to those generous UK suppliers who provide us with luggage.

Maureen Duke, Hampshire

Concave Spines

I just received your No. 3 Issue. I found the Feedback on Jim Brockman's concave style interesting. In answer to Barry Brignell's questions, No. 1 in particular; the weight of paper does indeed affect the operation of this style, as it does of every style. I make some comments in my piece. The ridge concave spine is best suited to thinner or normal calliper paper depending on the size of the book-block. Stiff paper needs a different treatment, as does wrong direction of grain. Stiffer papers would not open and lay flat readily near the ends of a concave spine with a rigid lining.

Philip Smith, Wiltshire


Skin Deep - Volume 4 - Autumn 1997

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