Salem Athenaeum Conservation Night

While not a Guild event, we occasionally highlight events which might be of interest to our members.

Conservation Night

When: September 27, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Cost: Free
Contact: Jean Marie Procious 978-744-2540
Join us for the sixth annual Conservation Night featuring some of the most important books in our historical collections.  We will unveil the conserved volumes — books sponsored by generous participants of the 2016 Conservation Night — and present more ailing books for your consideration.  Executive Director Jean Marie Procious will give an illustrated presentation about the books and their value to the collection.

Intensive Study Opportunities in Boston

The following is from our friends at North Bennet Street School:

There are a couple of intensive study opportunities this summer for up and coming bookbinders and book conservators.  You can find information about these classes, to be held at North Bennet Street School, at

The first course is open to any and all and is an experimental class based on input from potential students.  North Bennet Street School has previously held 3 month intensive workshops in the fall, but many people have requested a shorter course held outside of the academic year.

The second course listed below is designed specifically for book conservators, pre-program or practicing.  This class requires permission from the instructor, Chela Metzger (see below).

Bookbinding Intensive
Monday – Friday, June 25 – July 27, no class 7/4
8:30am – 4:30pm

Instructor: Stacie Dolin

$1000 deposit

This class is designed for individuals interested in an intensive, hands-on bookbinding experience and is suitable for book artists and novice binders wishing to learn or enhance fundamental bookbinding skills. This course also provides a solid foundation for individuals interested in the NBSS full-time bookbinding program. Explore a variety of book structures and binding techniques and the process for determining what materials and structures to use for a given project. The five-week program uses the school’s fully equipped bindery providing the opportunity to work on advanced topics and with a wide range of professional equipment (such as foil stamping presses) not available in most introductory courses. The class also covers studio techniques for those without access to a professional bindery. Field trips and other specific topics are part of the curriculum and will be based on student interests. The tuition includes a materials fee for paper, board, and other basic supplies; students are expected to provide some materials and all hand tools.

To secure a spot, a deposit and registration is recommended by June 1. Please read the intensive refund policy before signing up.

Introduction to book structures for conservators

Monday – Thursday, July 19 – August 17, no class 7/4
9:00am – 4:00pm

Instructor: Chela Metzger

This class will have a few open slots by permission of the instructor. It is part of the Mellon Funded enhancements for the education of Library and Archives Conservators taking place at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, in collaboration with Simmons School of Library and Information Science and the North Bennet Street School. 

This five-week class meets Monday – Thursday each week. Field trips are scheduled for some Fridays, otherwise Fridays are considered work days/open studio. The course is designed to further basic bookbinding bench skills and to explore historic book structures in the context of the conservation of books as historic artifacts.Readings, research on book structures and bookbinding history, and creating models of historic structures are the basis of the course. Class presentations, short essays and online publishing are required. The course is for students who are seriously interested in exploring conservation of books as cultural heritage, and could be used to help develop a portfolio for further work in library/archives conservation, or bookbinding study. Class size is limited. Application requirements include a short personal statement on the role of the class in your work, a phone conversation, and images showing three-dimensional studio work of some kind if possible. Students will need to supply their own hand tools, or purchases them at NBSS. For more information, please contact Chela Metzger

Yale Preservation Lecture

And another invitation to pass along:

Please join us for the 3rd Preservation Lecture
March 17, 2011, Thursday, at 3:30 p.m.
Yale University
Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall
120 Wall St
New Haven, CT

But Storage is Cheap… Digital Preservation in the Age of Abundance
Abby Smith Rumsey

Ms Rumsey served as a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, as well as senior writer and editor of its final report.  In addition, she works with the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP).

Please contact Roberta Pillette for more information– roberta.pillette [at]

Wooden Book Boards

Our friend Jeff Peachey was just in Boston teaching his sharpening workshop to the students at North Bennet Street School.  Jeff mentioned that there is still space in his upcoming workshop on wooden boards.  It is obviously NOT in New England, but it looks like well worth the trip!

From the description on Jeff Peachey’s blog:

Los Angles, California. (November 8-12, 2010). Week long wooden board workshop at the Huntington. Description Below, contact Justin Johnson for details- jjohnson(at) huntington (dot) org.


Until around 1500, most books were bound in wooden boards. Books with wooden boards lie somewhat outside the routine treatments book conservators are normally tasked with. Split, and splitting wood boards are a tremendous problem in many institutions–they put many other aspects of a binding, especially intact covering materials, at risk of further damage if not stabilized or otherwise treated. This five day master class will focus on the fundamentals of the treatment of wooden book boards: the basics of using hand tools to shape wood accurately, easily and efficiently; the making a sample set of woods commonly used for wood boards; the examining of historic techniques for fabrication; and the making a sample set of common treatments for split boards. Choosing, tuning, using, sharpening and maintaining woodworking tools will also be taught. Exploring some of the complexities of wood technology and how this impacts treatment, storage and handling options for conservation treatments will also be covered. No previous woodworking experience is necessary. Five days.


  1. Learn how to evaluate, use and maintain basic hand wood working tools.
  2. Construct a sample set of reference wood commonly encountered in historic book boards.
  3. Construct a specialized jig to plane thin wood boards.
  4. Reproduce historic board shapes, channels, tunnels, chamfering and learn to recognize the tools used to make them.
  5. Construct samples of currently used techniques to repair split and splitting boards, and discuss their applicability in various real world situations.
  6. Make one sample board from a log, by hand, to understand the historic hand technologies– using a maul, froe, and broad axe.
  7. Begin to appreciate some of the complexities of wood technology and how this impacts treatment, storage and handling options for real world books.
  8. Discuss in depth the results of a recent article by Alexis Hagadorn and  Jeffrey S. Peachey  “The use of parchment to reinforce split wooden bookboards, with preliminary observations into the effects of RH cycling on these repairs” Journal of the Institute of Conservation, Volume 33, Issue 1 March 2010 (pp 41 – 63)
  9. Consider storage, housing and display issues unique to wooden board bindings.
  10. Discuss treatment considerations based on documentation that participants supply.


The annual conference of the Guild of Book Workers, with the grand title of “The Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding” probably sounds a little daunting to those not familiar with the event.  The conference is held each year at different places around the country, and is in fact a highly social as well as highly educational.  The conference is a wonderful opportunity for the annual cross-pollination in our wide-ranging field of “book workers.”

In addition to the formal presentations there are tours, social events, a banquet with an entertaining auction– and one of the best reasons to attend might be the vendor room which will be packed with temptations.

The conference topics offer something for everyone, with presentations on traditional bookbinding, book arts and book conservation.  There are frequently presentations that cross disciplines, and the variety is part of the very structure of the Guild of Book Workers.

This year the conference is in Tucson, AZ.  October 14-16, 2010.   There is an extraordinary group of presenters (see below), and we know the local host committee has worked hard to put on a great event.  There is still time to register, and you can do so online for the first time this year.  See the Standards page on the GBW site at

Standards Presentations 2010

Michael Burke – Byzantine Binding
Michael Burke started his working life as a chemist researching the transformation of coal into oil. He later worked in occupational health with asbestos. Michael studied bookbinding with Dominic Riley and paper conservation with Karen Zukor. He was involved in establishing the bindery at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and edited Gold Leaf, the journal of the Hand Bookbinders of California.

Michael lives in the Lake District, England, where he teaches bookbinding at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and at Society of Bookbinders (SoB) events across the UK. He is a past chair of the North West and North Wales region of SoB. He has taught for diverse book arts groups across the USA, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City and in 2007 he taught at Paper and Book Intensive in Michigan. Last year he travelled to São Paulo to teach for the Brazilian group ABER. In recent years Michael has been researching the structures of ancient and medieval bindings. Michael will demonstrate the making of a medieval Byzantine binding. This leather binding is unique in that is bound from the boards to the center, resulting in a natural rounding of the spine, at which point the two halves are joined.

Nancy Ruth Leavitt – In Search of Content, the Joys and Challenges of Creating the Book Form
Nancy Leavitt is a calligrapher specializing in unique hand-lettered and painted manuscript books. Leavitt’s interest in the hand-lettered book developed as a result of her studies in the U.S. and Great Britain. Her work resides in many prestigious collections and she has received several grants from the Maine Arts Commission for research into her craft, including quill cutting. She lives, works, and sings in Stillwater, Maine.

Like an engineering project, a book is a complex three dimensional design made up of many parts. Content is the central idea of the design and narrative is how it unfolds, how the story is revealed and concealed. Our goal as bookmakers is to intentionally integrate all aspects of the design to strengthen the structure, form, and content of our works. Through demonstration and example, Nancy discusses her rigorous yet playful method of researching, compiling data, developing, and realizing materials for her manuscript books.

Martha Little – Book Forensics: Interpreting Evidence of Structure
Martha Little has been a bookbinder and book conservator since 1976. She was Book Conservator at the Yale University Library and Head of Conservation at the University of Michigan Libraries, and is now in private practice in California. Her early training was with Jane Greenfield, who incorporated a study of historical structures and the making of models into the work day, and with Roger Powell in England, whose powers of meticulous observation will always be an unattainable standard. Martha took part last year in a condition survey of manuscript books at the National Library of Egypt in Cairo, where she learned that two people can look at the same detail and see two different things. 

Every book conservator accumulates knowledge of some of the small details that are clues to a book’s invisible or lost structure. A remnant of a leather strap may lie in a board; extra holes suggestive of an earlier sewing may be apparent in the folds; raised areas where the covering material has become worn reveal where cords are laced in underneath. Martha’s presentation will examine more ways of interpreting physical evidence when examining a book, in order to determine how it was made and what materials were used. She will bring old books to look at and discuss; recreate evidence though different means to see which interpretation seems more plausible; demonstrate some simple tests to identify materials, and show how the knowledge of the observer can both help with and get in the way of seeing what’s there.

Jeffrey S. Peachey – Late Eighteenth Century French Binding Structures
Jeffrey S. Peachey is the owner of a New York City-based studio for the conservation of books and the inventor of conservation tools and machines. He is a Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation and a previous chair of the Conservators In Private Practice. For more than 20 years, he has specialized in the conservation of books and paper artifacts for institutions and individuals. A consultant to major libraries and university collections in the New York City region and nationally, he has been the recipient of numerous grants to support his work. A well-known teacher, Peachey also provides conservation-focused guidance to students in art, bookbinding and conservation programs.

This presentation will focus on the structural aspects of a typical 18th century full calf French binding by comparing contemporary descriptions in bookbinding manuals, examining extant bindings and experimenting with reproduction tools and equipment. In some respects, this structure is the end of utilitarian leather binding–50 years later the cloth case begins to predominate. Some features of this binding style include cutting the boards with a pointe, ploughing the edges in-boards, four variations of transverse spine liners and sprinkled cover decoration. Primary texts include Diderot’s Encylopedie (1751-1780). Gauffecourt’s Traite de la Relieure des Livres (1763) and Dudin’s L’Art du Relieur-doreur de Livres (1772). Specific conservation concerns for these structures will also be discussed.

Preservation of Books at the Folger Shakespeare Library

The Preservation of Books at the
Folger Shakespeare Library
A Lecture by Renate Mesmer
North Bennet Street School
Boston, MA
August 12, 2010.  6:00pm

Renate Mesmer will speak about a variety of projects undertaken at the Folger Shakespeare Library including the conservation of 19th century scrap books, The Halliwell-Phillipps Albums, and other treatments.  Paper splitting and other techniques, tips and tricks used at the lab will be discussed.

This lecture, another installment in the North Bennet Street School/Guild of Book Workers lecture series, is free and open to the public.  Registration is not required, but if you plan to attend it would help us plan if we have a rough headcount.  RSVP to

The associated workshop, “Tips and Tricks for Book and Paper Conservators,” to be held at North Bennet Street School August 12-16, is currently fully enrolled.  If you would like to be added to the waiting list please contact the NBSS workshop director, Jourdan Abel at

About the Presenter:
Renate Mesmer is the Assistant Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the former Director of the Book and Paper Conservation Program at the Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland. She has a Masters in bookbinding from the Chamber of Crafts of Palatinate in Germany and gained experience in conservation during ten years of work as head of the conservation department at the  Speyer’s State Archives in Germany.

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.

North Bennet Street School Workshops

North Bennet Street School has just published a new workshop catalog and updated the course listings online at

Coming up fast:  Todd Pattison with “Rebacking Bookbindings,” on March 20-21, 2010.

Also beginning in late March is a 5 Saturday run of “Introduction to Cloth Case Bookbinding” with Amanda Nelsen, and a three-day class from Stacie Dolin on Photo Albums.  There are a variety of courses on bookbinding, calligraphy, and marbling being offered from now through the summer from new visiting teachers and regular workshop instructors.

A few highlights include “New Oriental Bindings” with Monique Lallier (in collaboration with the American Academy of Bookbinding) and Katherine Beaty will offer a class on Islamic Binding.  Pop-up artist Paul Johnson is back with a new lecture and a couple of classes.  And for all those that have requested more conse rvation oriented courses there is “Tips and Tricks for Book and Paper Conservation” with Renate Mesmer in August.

Register online at or contact the workshop coordinator, Jourdan Abel at workshop @

Please watch this blog for New England Chapter lectures from several of the instructors above!

Digital Photography Workshop

The New England Conservation Association (NECA) has some openings in its June 11-12 workshop on digital photography for conservators and would like to invite members of the New England chapter of  the Guild of Bookworkers to consider participating.

As the workshop is subsidized quite substantially by NECA, we would request that those interested in attending join NECA. The annual membership fee is $25.

If you are interested please contact Kate Smith <>

        Workshop Posting

Digital Photography for Conservators Yosi A. R-Pozeilov

June 11-12, 9-5 both days
Worcester Art Museum

$150.00 per person, morning coffee and lunch provided. Fee also includes a copy of Yosi’s publication Digital Photography For Art Conservation.

Learn the basics of digital imaging and unique applications that are vital to the conservator’s proper documentation of treatments with this popular workshop. Many conservators express the desire to make better use of this relatively new medium to obtain appropriate, accurate records of their work. The workshop specifically addresses issues encountered by the conservator. It will cover the basics of the digital imaging, starting with the identification of proper digital imaging capture devices (i.e. digital cameras, scanners, etc.) and their most efficient methods of use; the importance of knowing the purpose or intended destination of the images generated; some aspects of lighting; image transfer mechanism and preservation; and instruction on image correction and editing using Photoshop software.

Yosi A. R-Pozeilov is the Senior Photographer at the Conservation Center of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Since his return to Los Angeles and to LACMA at the end of 2003 Yosi was given the task to convert the analogue photographic studio into a digital one. Benefiting from the invaluable experience gained during the two years that he worked at the Harvard College Library in Cambridge, MA at the digital imaging studio, as well as his experience at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, Yosi was successful in fully implementing a digital workflow in the Conservation Center. In 2004 he was invited by the AIC to teach his first workshop on digital photography at the annual meeting in Portland, OR. Since then, Yosi has taught his workshop at several venues across the country and on-line through the FAIC.

The workshop can accommodate 25 participants. Please email Kate Smith at to reserve a spot on the list!

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