Book Conservation Workshops

Many New England Chapter members have expressed interest in book repair and conservation workshops so we want to draw your attention to just a couple of the upcoming study opportunities in the region.

The Garage Annex School is offering “Board Reattachment using Japanese Tissues” on July 29 and 30 with instructor Eric Alstrom.  See the description below and go to the GAS site to register and for information on other workshops.

In August North Bennet Street School hosts Renate Mesmer for her famous workshop, “Tips and Tricks for Book and Paper Conservation.”  When Renate is in town for this 5 day workshop, August 12-16, she will also present a free public lecture on the subject of conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library, part of the New England GBW/NBSS lecture series.  Watch this blog for an announcement with details on that lecture, see below for a description of the workshop.  You can register online for Renate’s course and find information on other classes at


Board Reattachment Using Japanese Papers

Garage Annex School.  Eric Alstrom
July 29–30, Thursday–Friday
Tuition: $250   Materials: $35
Enrollment limited to twelve.

Traditional methods of reattaching loose covers on leather-bound volumes are problematic, time-consuming, and expensive. Paring down even a high-quality piece of leather weakens the material—dooming the repair from the beginning to fail again in the future.

An alternative method of repair uses dyed Japanese papers in place of leather. These papers are very thin, yet quite strong, and they come in a variety of colors.

Both tightback and hollowback volumes can be treated using just pennies’ worth of paper in a fraction of the time it would take to lift the old leather, pare the new, and reattach the covers. These repairs are perfect for smaller volumes, but can be adapted for larger books, too.

This workshop will cover techniques developed by both Don Etherington and Eric for treating tightback and hollowbacks. Coloring the Japanese paper, and adaptations for all sizes of books will be also be covered.

Eric will share tips and tricks for working with the materials and methods.

No experience in Japanese paper repair required. Eric recommends some background in binding constructions of this period, however you needn’t be experienced in binding your own leather volumes. If you have doubts, please contact us to discuss your qualifications.

 Before and after pictures of a set of hollowback books.


Tips and Tricks for Book and Paper Conservation
Aug 12-16, 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm 

North Bennet Street School.  Renate Mesmer

Participants will learn and practice numerous useful techniques for book and paper conservation, all of which will involve hands-on practice and are meant for every day work. The book conservation techniques that will be covered include reattaching boards, joint repairs, binding repairs in general, primary endband and a baggy-back. Paper conservation tips will include staining of paper, the use of cellulose powder, the use of Gossamer tissue, capillary washing, friction flattening, etc. As time permits many other book and paper conservation tips will be demonstrated. After registering for the class, participants will get a list of things to bring and prepare for the workshop.

Odyssey 2010

Deena Schnitman’s pastepapers, Jesse Meyer’s parchment… these are just a couple of our members and friends in the vendor room at the Odyssey Calligraphy Conference at Stonehill College at the end of July.  The vendors and a few other things are open to the public.  Check out

One day vendors are on July 24th, but check the link for hours and additional dates.

Islamic Bindings

Islamic Bindings: A Conservator’s Perspective on Form and Function
An Ilustrated lecture by Katherine Beaty
Schlesinger Library, Cambridge MA
July 28, 2010.  6:00 PM

Another installment in our series co-sponsored by the North Bennet Street School: Katherine Beaty, rare book conservator at Harvard College Library, will describe and illustrate the fundamentals of Islamic bookbinding structure and conservation challenges.  Katherine will provide a compilation of imagery drawing upon selected examples from the Library of Congress, as well as Harvard’s recent Islamic Heritage Digitization Project.

This lecture is in conjunction with the North Bennett Street School’s workshop on Islamic Bindings, taught by Katherine on July 29-31.  For workshop information and online registration please see

The lecture is free and open to the public.