collecting and collections are things i have become ambivalent about in the last few years. as a child and well into my teenage years i was an avid collector of many things including:

-rocks and minerals
-foreign money, mostly coins
-fairy tale and victorian paper dolls
-stamps (sort of)
-porcelain figurines (mostly disney)
-books (ongoing, especially children's chapter and picture books)
-embroidered vegetables (ongoing)
-vintage dresses (possibly ongoing)
-voices/sounds (on pause, but ongoing)
-pez dispensers
-fall leaves
-old bottles
-old keys (never succeeded. just really wanted to)
-christmas tree ends (the part you slice off before putting the tree in water. smells so good!)
-maps/inserts from national geographic
-3-D puzzles (not as much, but i'd still like the Eiffel tower and the tower bridge)

for awhile, especially between the ages of about 11 and maybe 16, or through the end of high school, i was an enthusiastic thrifter and a lover of all things old. when amanda and i went to england at the ages of 15 and 13 respectively, going to antique stores to look for old keys was high on my list of priorities (along with riding on a train, which we did plenty of). i'm pretty sure that this inclination towards old culture and old fashions stemmed partly from my insecurity with fitting in to the mainstream, popular trends my peers enjoyed. there was safety (and also nerdiness) in being knowledgeable about and aware of something nobody else was. deliberately not fitting in was easier.

but it went deeper than that, as i am still a lover of many things old. it's interesting to see how that bent has played out in my life today (studied history, now work in archives repairing old books, love of old movies and old popular culture). but somewhere in there i stopped collecting. strangely (and happily), i didn't become the aimless, lifetime packrat i was well on my way to becoming. i became more interested and secure in bringing myself up to date and being more aware of the present. i also became interested in simplifying life and my surroundings. i have by and large stopped accumulating things, even books, but i still constantly battle with myself about what's important to own or not.

eight years ago i began working in libraries and also pursued museum work for awhile through classes and volunteering. my personal ambivalence about collecting transferred over to these institutions and their collections and collection development policies. right away i caught on to the conflict between missions to preserve and too much collecting; this conflict fueled my own ambivalence. i began to see how collecting could get so out of control and so aimless that things could not longer be preserved and stored properly.

having recently returned to thrift and antique stores as well as the library book sales, i feel i have run into my past self. and yes, for those of you who have met her before, it is largely my 8th-grade self. i don't know if it's because i've stopped being a ridiculously poor and insanely busy bookbinding student or because i've renewed friendships with collectors and others who love old things or because as a bookbinder i can find tools in antique stores now. don't know.

what i do know is that my love-hate relationship with the stuff that makes up our collective and individual pasts persists and intensifies. i also know that collections with clear focus and the intent to teach and shed light on past and present people, ideas, and cultures are the most relevant and ones i want to support and even build for myself.

i'm not sure what the fate of my old collections will be. i wonder if a time will come when i just want to throw it all out. the "love" and nostalgia kind of hope not--it's always fun to dig through those boxes, and it would be fun to show my kids. the "hate" and desire for simplicity hope otherwise.

we shall see....



The Land of Oz, the second in the voluminous Oz series, has a great, great twist in the end. this book was so imaginative, comical, and delightful to read. unique and unexpected characters. and, like i said, a fantastic twist that leads the book so easily into the next sequel. i can't wait to get started. Ozma of Oz here I come.


from the diaryland: fam and food

last re-post, i promise. too good to pass up. plus, it's appropriate because part of the reason i'm a reluctant bookbinder is because i would like to have more time and energy to spend on food--growing it, cooking it, baking it. (not books. you can't do any of those things to books)

but anyway, here's some old thoughts in hyperbole from december 2005.

food, 12.18.05

every single child and in-law in my family is truly obsessed with making, talking about, and eating food. our family gatherings are built around food, and not one goes by without some lengthy but fascinating discussion and analysis of delicious food eaten out or delicious food prepared at home. even today when only john and mom and i were sitting at the dining room table, we were still discussing food--fondu, sushi, and some swiss cheese thing! and just a little while later, mand called specifically to discuss the best way to melt baker's chocolate for moosewood brownies (in the microwave) and whether or not she should add the cinnamon. i then told her about a delicious pumpkin curry soup and about the greatest breakthrough in christmas-cookie frosting ever made that was happening right then and there in our kitchen! our entire conversation consisted only of food! and then we hung up. food is one of the flam's biggest connecting points. our best and most memorable times together are always around the table, in the midst of delicious concoctions and surrounded by each other's good company.

from the diaryland: an old dream brought back to life

tonight i have been reading diaryland entries from this time of year three years ago. i love reading old journal entries, especially my online ones, which tend to be more interesting (likely the effect of knowing there's the immediate audience of friends). i love seeing what's changed and what's the same.

anyway, this made me laugh so hard, that i thought i'd repost it here (especially since no one has access to "thebid" anymore).

dream, 12.13.05

umm. in my dream this morning i seem to remember crystal and kari and i were entering I-15 southbound from I-80 westbound in a canoe. yes, a canoe. for some reason the canoe was tipped up almost vertical and kari tumbled from the front (the top) all the way to the back, almost tumbling all the way out.

how she tumbled past crystal or me without taking us with her, i'll never know.

why the canoe was tipped upright while entering a highway full of speeding cars, i'll never know.

where the canoe came from in the first place is a huge mystery.

where crystal and kari came from....even huger!


A Birthday Story For Biddy, Love, Ellis

(for those of you who don't know, Ellis is my three-and-a-half-year old niece. she lives and writes in China)

Now, this story is about my bears. And the mice come over, and they make pies and books, and they celebrate winter.

Now, Melissa Bear was looking for somebody. She lived all alone.


"Oh, bother," thought Melissa, when she heard the noise. She had bumped her elbow when the noise surprised her.

"Knock, knock. Ding, Dong!" It was Angelina. She was standing outside on the front porch. She had bumped her elbow, too, and that's why she squeaked.

Now do you know what? Melissa Bear opened the door. It was not just Angelina. It was Norman, too. He's Angelina's friend. Then all the other mice came. Mickey and Minnie, Dame Mouserink and Mousekin.

Meanwhile Teddy, Zero-unheart Bear, Honeydew, Bearymore and Heart Bear came down the stairs. It so happened for them that they were celebrating wintertime. Of course Melissa's birthday is in wintertime, on Christmas. Melissa Bear was excited to open presents even though it wasn't her birthday yet. It was only the middle of December. Some presents were wrapped, but she didn't know which present was for her. But Bearymore knew. He had wrapped all the presents up and tied them with a ribbon. And then he hid them under the Christmas tree. Now, meanwhile, Melissa dreamed about her birthday—that after they had had cake and ice cream and birthday soup, they would open the presents. In her dream, Melissa knew which one was for her.

All the mice and bears wanted to go outside to celebrate wintertime. So they went outside. But they accidentally got lost. It was a little bit cold. The only flowers they found were pansies. Princess Biddy finally found them, and when she found them she said,

"What are you guys doing out on a night like this?" So they got all in a row with Biddy at the end. "Hold my hand guys," she said. Two of them, mice, held her hands. Soon they came to a bright red door in a white fence. So they knocked and ding-donged. They wondered who lived there. Suddenly they heard a noise upstairs. They crept up the stairs and tip-toed quietly. Melissa Bear was quite scared. But actually they realized it was just Mowgli the rat. This was his house and it was just in the middle of the forest. Princess Biddy had shown them where he lived. Princess Biddy was a friend to rats.

Everyone ran back downstairs. Mowgli knew it was Princess Biddy's birthday. He was in the middle of making cheddar cheese pies. He showed them how to sprinkle apples over. Melissa started to bake a cake. She put the candle sticks on and lit the candles, because she was making a birthday cake. It was Princess Biddy's birthday! The animals sang happy birthday. The song was a little bit pretty.

Melissa Bear started making books, because of course Biddy had taught her how a couple weeks before. Now she was making a special one. First she chose some colors—blue and pink. She made the cover pink and inside the pages were blue, and the picture was blue also. It was a fairy tale book for Biddy because it was her birthday. Biddy was very surprised.

"Thanks guys," she said.

Everyone got to stay the night.

That was the end of the story.


from the lab: the springback lives!

the moment we've all been waiting for, the culmination of the last 8 or 10 weeks obsession with the springback binding. my interest began because there are zillions of springback account books in the church archives. i've been examining them and wanted to learn how to make them (also in hopes that i would learn how they might be repaired).

so the springback binding came into being around 1799. it's a binding style developed for account and ledger books. the book literally springs open and lies flat. as you can imagine, it's imperative that an account book stay open, and if it doesn't open flat, the accountant can't write all those important little numbers way into the gutter, wasting as little paper as possible.

the most prevalent styles (if not the only) are, as usual, German and English. i have now made models of both and am now just realizing that i've forgotten photos of the lousy excuse for a german springback binding i made a month ago. anyway, see below for some illustrations of the process, and check out the link in the "favorite book structure" section on this blog.

1. construct endsheets. these are cool new endsheets i've never made. they consist of made fly leaves (i.e decorative paper laminated--or glued--to one of the endsheet leaves) with a cloth fold (the red)........

and a strip of cotton along the back of the fold for extra strength.

2. After cutting, folding, pressing, and trimming sections, and sewing them on four linen tapes (those googly strips of cloth dangling from the book's spine), i squared up the book and glued up the back with gelatin. gelatin is animal glue. you heat it in a double boiler. it's delicious. joke. it's just a fact of bookbinding.

3. Once glue is set but not totally dry, chop the head, tail, and foredge of the book so it has clean edges. in fine binding and most other binding i've done, this trimming has been accomplished by ploughing (shaving off the uneven edge with this blade set in a contraption) or trimming beforehand. with this binding--which would have been produced en masse in a trade bindery--i wanted to keep things authentic and do what they would have done. so to the guillotine we went, and in three swift cuts, the deed was done. i love the guilltoine. this particular one is from palmyra, ps.

4. I forgot to take photos, but the next step would be to hammer some round into the book while the gelatin is still relatively flexible. The springback is unique in that it is only rounded and not backed. You'll notice later on that the folds have not been knocked over. an astute bookbinder's eye will also notice that i did not leave enough swell in the the sewing for a good round. Springbacks were typically overrounded. not mine.

5. So here pictured is the first part of the "spring" of the springback. it's that buff-colored piece of cardstock glued there. it acts as the lever for the spring.

6. i forgot. i did also paint the edges after chopping them and rounding the book. seeing as i was in trade binder mode, i did a half-baked job (which i'm not supposed to do) and didn't sand properly. more typically the edges were painted green.

7. the sewing tapes are glued to the cardstock "lever", the waste sheet that the "lever" was glued to is folded back over the cardstock and glued there, and a leather lining is glued to the spine of the book. the leather lining is a wonderful thing. it is one of the few compressible spine lining materials. but i'll spare you the mechanics of the spine. i'm obsessed with it, but i'm pretty sure those of you reading this aren't.

another view of lever and linings......and lack of round. you'll also notice that the edges aren't painted yet. they should have been, but i did them later, which was very difficult with this thick flap. but that's another story.

8. the tragedy. see those notches that are cut out? i wasn't supposed to cut them all the way off. oh well. i guess "the tragedy" should not be a step in the process. one shoudn't plan on tragedies in bookbinding. actually......maybe it's more realistic if you do.

9. the spring! i loved this part! i mean, when will you ever get to use a broom for bookbinding?! the spring in the springback is layers of paper glued together and then wrapped around a round dowel about the same as the spine and let to dry so it will keep the shape. historically, the spring was sometimes metal. in the german style, they build the spring onto the back. it's kind of like a cast. so the spring is under the ace bandage, waiting to emerge.

the spring born at last. the cotton lining is what i used to attach the spring to the book. this is the inside of the spring, just so you know.

10. ten steps later, the spring has been attached, followed by the boards. the boards consist of a thick board and a thinner cardstock. that big flap gets glued between them. for those of you who know, it's the same as a split board. the pencil lines mark where the leather will go. i also glued false raised bands on the spine to create that classic look. everyone loves those bumps on the back of a book. well, it's also what the trade binder would have done and did do.

here's a close up of the spring and the edge. the edge of the spring is supposed to form headcaps, but it was thick and uncooperative. you an also see the second, thinner cardstock board.

11. paste on the leather spine and corners. then i filled the cover in with cardstock the same thickness as the leather. the leather is only edge-pared for maximum strength. again, it's an account book. it's gotta survive super heavy use.

12. after letting the leather dry overnight, i covered the rest of the book with cloth, let it dry, and then glued down the decorative endsheets and let them dry. then it was time for tooling. a straight line gets tooled along all the edges where leather meets cloth. oh boy, did it feel good to have that finishing tool in hand again after five months!

the book in the finishing press, awaiting tooling along the false raised bands

.......uhhhhhhh..........ridiculously, i have realized, i have neglected to produce "finished" photos. so stay tuned for the final installment of Springback: A Story of Obsession

at least i'll say this has been a fantastic project. it's so rewarding to work on an historical binding structure but with actual examples close at hand to aid in making things accurate and authentic. it's also an enormous challenge to teach oneself a binding from written directions only. takes a lot of patience and reading and re-reading and frustration. nevertheless, i definitely plan on making more of these soon.



otto: there! pear! i'm going to a sleepover!

pear: where?

otto (with uber-enthusiasm and sparkly eyes): I DON'T KNOW! *sparkle* *sparkle*


Thanksgiving Radio

i just experienced a supreme moment i thought only possible in my dreams: my entire family gathered in the kitchen surrounded by thanksgiving meal prep, listening to David Sedaris do a Billie Holiday impression on This American Life.

the listening to radio stories together is the dream part.

but thanksgiving food is a pretty nice dream, too.


book thoughts: "the fourth political option"

In 2004, after a fantastically disappointing presidential campaign and election, the Reverend Jim Wallis--an evangelical christian, political activist, and editor of Sojourner's magazine--wrote a book which he titled God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.

Not only do Br. Wallis and I see eye-to-eye on several key points, he has also managed to pinpoint for me at least part of the source of my political disgruntlement. With my populist, environmentalist, part-liberal, part-conservative, part-progressive, part-anarchist, part anti-capitalist, part anti-nationalist leanings and a extreme aversion to political labels (even tho i just threw out a zillion regarding myself), parties, and idealogues, it's no wonder I've had difficulty finding anything close to resembling a niche.

I know many people like me who don't subscribe to our current political options and ideologies. Many of them are also Mormons who don't fit in with the traditional christian conservative niche. For those of you who may put yourself in this category (but not necessarily all my part-this, anti-that categories) or for anyone else, you may find this excerpt from Wallis' book compelling.

(for a smoother read, please ignore the plethora of parentheticals)

There are now three major political options in our public life. The first political option in America today is conservative on everything--from cultural, moral, and family concerns to economic, environmental, and foreign policy issues. Differences emerge between aggressive nationalists and cautious isolationists, corporate apologists and principled fiscal conservatives, but this is the political option clearly on the ascendancy in America [remember, this is 4 years ago], with most of the dominant ideas in the public square coming from the political right.

The second political option in contemporary America is liberal on everything--both family/sexual/cultural questions and economic, environmental, and foreign policy matters. There are certainly differences among the liberals (from pragmatic centrists to green leftists), but the intellectual and ideological roots come from the Left side of the cultural and political spectrum--and today most from the liberal/Left find themselves on the defensive [not anymore, for those of you who heard the story on NPR today about how the Religious Right is back on the defensive and excited about it. !]

The third option in American politics is libertarian, meaning liberal on cultural/moral issues and conservative on fiscal/economic and foreign policy issues. The "just leave me alone and don't spend my money option" is growing quickly in American life.

I believe there is a "fourth option" for American politics, which follows from the prophetic religious tradition we have described. It is traditional or conservative on issues of family values, sexual integrity and personal responsibility, while being very progressive, populist, or even radical on issues like poverty [yes!] and racial justice [yes again!]. It affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and is more internationally minded than nationalist--looking first to peacemaking and conflict resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions [huzzah!!!!] The people it appeals to (many religious, but others not) are very strong on issues like marriage, raising kids, and individual ethics, but without being right-wing, reactionary, or mean-spirited or scapegoating against any group of people, such as homosexuals [yes!!]. They can be pro-life, pro-family, and pro-feminist, all at the same time. They think issues of "moral character" are very important, both in a politician's personal life and in his or her policy choices. Yet they are decidedly pro-poor [definitely me. possibly the most important work i've done to this point in my life is with low-income and homeless families who have shown me just what a blight poverty and homelessness really are], for racial reconciliations, critical of purely military solutions [oh man. so so so critical. check out Taxi to the Dark Side for the darkest side of military solutions], and defenders of the environment.

At the heart of the fourth option is the integral link between personal ethics and social justice. And it appeals to people who refuse to make the choice between the two.


From the Good Book: Election Day Thoughts on how the Book of Mormon blasts American Exceptionalism

american exceptionalism.

(you can read all about it in sarah vowell's new book)
(and in every US History text book)
(and in every reading assignment i had in college)

i don't like it.

(And in these last eight years the bush administration has taken this exceptionalism to new, alarming, and oh, so destructive heights.)

Nor do i like it when scripture--specifically the Book of Mormon--is invoked to justify and/or bolster american exceptionalism, nationalism, and ethnocentrism. Now don't get me wrong. this is an amazing country in many ways i don't need to write about here. but we're not perfect, and a capitalist republic is not the model for the kingdom of God (just like the 3-hour sunday meeting block probably isn't either).

In Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman forms compelling analysis of the Book of Mormon's content with regards to America and Israel (i.e. God's Kingdom). While I'd strongly recommend beginning on page 101 to get the entire context and insight, for the sake of keeping anyone awake who is reading this, I won't quote it all......

"The story of Israel [in the Book of Mormon] overshadowed the history of American liberty. Literal Israel stood at the center of history, not the United States. The book sacralized the land but condemned the people. The Indians were the chosen ones, not the European interlopers. The Book of Mormon was the seminal text, not the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The gathering of lost Israel, not the establishment of liberty, was the great work. In the Book of Mormon, the biblical overwhelms the national.

Taken as a whole, the Book of Mormon can be read as a 'document of profound social protest' against the dominant culture of Joseph Smith's time. That may not have been most readers' first impression. Many converts said it confirmed their old beliefs. The book read like the Bible to them; its gospel was standard Christianity. The book patriotically honored America by giving it a biblical history. And yet on closer reading, the Book of Mormon contests the amalgam of Enlightenment, republican, Protestant, capitalist and nationlist values that constituted American culture. The combination is not working, the book says. America is too Gentile, too worldly, too hard-hearted. The Gentiles 'put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves, their own wisdom, and their own learning, that they may get gain, and grind upon the faces of the poor.' The nation must remember God and restore Israel--or be blasted.

The Book of Mormon proposes a new purpose for America: becoming a realm of righteousness rather than an empire of liberty. Against increasing wealth and inequality, the Book of Mormon advocates the cause of the poor. Against the subjection of the Indians, it promises the continent to the native people. Against republican government, it proposes righteous rule by judges and kings under God's law. Against a closed-canon Bible and nonmiraculous religion, the Book of Mormon stands for ongoing revelation, miracles, and revelation to all nations. Against skepticism, it promotes belief; against nationalism, a universal Israel. It foresees disaster for the nation if the love of riches, resistance to revelation, and Gentile civilization prevail over righteousness, revelation, and Israel. Herman Melville said of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 'He says NO! in thunder.' A NO can be heard in the Book of Mormon's condemnation of an America without righteousness."


It frustrates me when our scripture is wrongly used to uphold and justify certain aspects of our nation and culture as it exists now. What we are now is certainly not the paradigm or standard of all righteousness. Just a step along the way.

And when at times the Church feels so, so frustratingly westerncentric it is encouraging to me to remember these perspectives Bushman underscores that lie in the heart of the gospel's center of doctrine--the Book of Mormon. A paradigm shift is occurring, however. I have seen this very clearly as I've been working for the Church History Department these last four-and-a-half months. The shift is happening. Tho it may be slow (to be expected with a 13 million member organization), I am encouraged, hopeful, and excited.


from the garden: pesto brain

after a slow, unmotivated day in the lab, i came home itchy to actually be productive with my hands. which meant it was time to finally whip the remnants of my summer basil plants into long overdue pesto. the basil had been sitting in ziploc bags in the fridge for about one week too long, and it came out looking almost unusable......but smelling ok. but just so you can imagine it, it basically looked like spinach in its last leg.


a miracle happened, and delicious bright pesto was born. beautiful greens! the darker basil is a combination of purple basil and the usual sweet basil. the other is lighter green, with smaller leaves and tastes more like tarragon. together they become the ultimate basil pesto brain. and thrown together with pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, shredded parmesan, and pine nuts--a delicious pesto brain pasta-o-rama!

actually.......i recently had surgery and this goo was where my brain was supposed to be.
pesto brain bid!


little orphan paula OR mom in living poetry

a few weeks ago mom and dad and i ventured into the great metropolis of Delta, Utah in search of remnants of ghost towns and to explore what's left of Topaz, a Japanese internment camp from the 40s. mom discovered some old bed springs underneath an old piece of broken fence and proceeded to spend about five minutes bouncing around on it, reciting the old "Little Orphan Annie" jump rope rhyme from her childhood.

so, i said to mom later on, life is like a chiasmus,* and you and your little orphan annie-ing are living proof.

*the literary technique used sometimes in scriptures that presents a set of words or ideas in a certain order and then retraces them in the opposite order.


book thoughts: from Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle is one of the wisest people I know, and as it is sunday and I'm getting ready to go to yet another church conference of sorts (ward conference--blah), here is one of her beautiful thoughts on the subject of religion and the millenium-o-rama:

"The Second Coming. The Coming of the Kingdom.

What does that mean?

My son-in-law Alan was asked once by a pious woman if our feet would be wafted from the earth, at the time of the Second Coming, before Jesus’s feet touched ground. Ouch. That kind of literalism is not what it’s about.

For the simple fact is that we are not capable of knowing what it’s about. The Coming of the Kingdom is creation coming to be what it was meant to be, the joy and glory of all creation working together with the Creator. In literal language none of it makes much sense, and I can only go once again to my adolescent analogy of the planet on which all sentient life was sightless. If nobody could see, other sense would take over, and everybody would get along perfectly well. But if you tried to explain the joy of sight to anybody on that planet you couldn’t do it. Nobody could understand something so glorious and so totally out of an eyeless frame of reference. Multiply that gap between a blind planet and a seeing one a billion times and we’ll still be far from understanding the difference between creation, now, and creation in the fullness of the kingdom. But I am slowly learning that it is something to be awaited with joy and not terror. "

The Irrational Season, p. 3-4

(ps. some more thoughts on faith...)


log cabin, hard cider!

i was walking around a ghost town today when johnny appleseed came up to me and offered me a delicious mug of hot cider.


arboreal patriarchs' last gasps

what were once over thirty bushels of the most flavorful old fashioned red delicious from three grand old trees has shrunk to just these five little buddies from two .

from the kitchen: some fall pastries

all of my favorite fruits and veggies are available fresh and in season right now, which means when i'm not in the lab i can't stay out of the kitchen and all is well in the world!

this pears and cream tart is made with pears from the ground of the Jones's orchard (home of Magic the horse who also likes pears). Magic Pears and Cream Tart: crumbly butter crust with a touch of sugar filled with a light, creamy custard and fresh pears with peels!

cherry-rhubarb pie with sour cherries grown out back, grandma's rhubarb, and a new kind of crust. i can't take credit for inventing the layered-crust-circles look, but i like it. it's a great alternative for too-dry crust that's difficult to roll out. this pie was pretty delicious except for the unthickened juices that made everything soggy. piemaker's horror.

a family fave and a delicacy passed down through the ages--the danish pastry [puff] done Biddy style. traditionally this pastry is yellow, thanks to butter and eggs. i prefer pink and green.


from the lab: a triumphant rescue

BEFORE: the saddest rebinding attempt in all the world.

AFTER: all better



Feeling insecure in my profession—again. I was reading this bookbinder’s blog, and he is a true craftsman—a true professional. He has so much experience, and he writes well about it. I feel the full weight of my inadequacy and inexperience, and part of that weight is a feeling that it will never dissipate, that I lack the ambition to work in this field with the kind of dedication, ambition, and integrity that seems necessary and that I admire in so many of these craftsmen. I want what they have . . . and I don’t. And so I’m left without knowing where to direct my passions.


from the lab: recent work

here are some of the projects i have been working on in the lab this week (and from the last weeks). i find myself frequently yelling out, "this is so fun!" or at other times something sounding more like "blast!" or "curses!" all in all, tho, i've found work to be so satisfying.

and what could be more satisfying than throwing a print (possible lithograph) that looks like this (notice gross stains) and that's mounted with some nasty adhesive plastic-paper-something-or-other into a couple baths for a day and a half and find the stains actually do wash out!

this photo represents a few baths. first isopropyl alcohol. alcohol released the heat activated backing tissue on the print. once submerged in the alcohol, it was just a few minutes before the print had nearly lifted off from the adhesive backing by itself. like magic. second was an overnight soaking in a plain, deionized water bath. in the morning i replaced the water with hot water. it looks a bit fuzzy in the pic because it's sandwiched between two layers of spun polyester called reemay. this fabric makes it possible to handle the wet paper without it disintegrating in your fingertips.

after the final bath with a little calcium hydroxide added for deacidification, the print comes out to air dry and then pressed flat. thanks to the before pictures bid of little faith could see that the stains had really faded. huzzah!

much of the reference material i work on comes to the lab like this--spines flapping, a cover or two hanging on by a thread or completely detached. these books are mostly informational and simply need to be made functional again, which gives me a chance to try new techniques (and not get bored!)

this is a first edition book of mormon made important not by its first editionness, but by joseph smith's writing on the front fly leaf and by the fact that it belonged to a stalwart woman named Vienna Jacques. clearly, the book needs to be resewn, but it can't be until the spine folds (the backs of the sections) are "guarded" or reinforced with thin japanese paper and wheat starch paste. without doing this, the thread has nothing to hold on to. it's tedious and incredibly time consuming.........

............but, doesn't it look so much better! i love guarding spine folds. i love the way this looks.

this is a pull-out page from the 9th edition of Fox's Book of Martyrs. it's been pulled out one too many times and is now in 3 pieces. (this page, btw, illustrates various torture methods, so don't look too close. gruesome.)

the paper is incredibly weak, so i lined the back of the whole sheet with japanese paper. i learned a new technique for doing this that involved pasting dacron--a polyester fabric--to a piece of plexiglas, pasting japanese paper to the dacron, and pasting the pages to the japanese paper. sticking everything to plexi insures the object will dry flat and with consistent tension.

once dry, the dacron peels easily from the plexi, and the japanese paper peels fairly easily from the dacron. with everything so wet and full of paste it's easy to move the pieces exactly into position without them drying too fast.

once dry and trimmed, the page is reinserted into the book and folded back along its original folds which are now super strong (thanks to the long fibers of the japanese paper)....

...and ready to withstand the zillions more handlings. the great part is that this is all reversible and can be done again if need be.

finally, fun project of the week.
this is an 1840 Book of Mormon in a pitiable state with some previous half-hearted attempts at mending these first pages. the book is missing the front cover, which partly accounts for its ragged filthiness.

i copied missing title pages from another identical 1840 edition

mended the pages

replaced the front cover

and recovered the book with japanese paper and replaced the remaining pieces of the original spine. (not a leather cover since they already have a decent 1840 edition with a lovely, in tact, leather binding)



i am beginning some ideas for a book exhibition i'd like to do based on the idea of a bookmobile.

and book mobiles.

the possibilities are endless and exciting!


i love the big parks so much. i walked round and round and under and over and through liberty park today after work. the longer i was there, the more people came. joggers, bikers, skaters, rollerbladers, walkers, tennis players....

the multiple personalities of a city emerge in its parks, and this is where i thrive.

it's fascinating that at the end of a day we burst with energy from our workplaces and immerse ourselves in the wild, fresh, unpredictable outside--the antithesis of our indoor workdays (especially at the COB).

i need these people in the parks and on the streets and in the markets. we are sustained by each other on the energy of our diversity and as we engage with the world around us.


of books and lovers of....

Books Fall Open
by David McCord

Books fall open,
you fall in,
delighted where
you've never been;
hear voices not once
heard before,
reach world on world
through door on door;
find unexpected
keys to things
locked up beyond
What might you be,
perhaps become
because one book
is somewhere? Some
wise delver into
wisdom, wit,
and wherewithal
has written it.
True books will venture,
dare you out,
whisper secrets,
maybe shout
across the gloom
to you in need,
who hanker for
a book to read.


ode to classmates

a grand day for double flexible binding!

missing these little buddies. we are now spread across the country, from coast to coast, spreading finely handcrafted, well-bound books to all the world!!!

notes from the lab: sublime cyclododecane

i met a new chemical marvel at work about a month ago:


(here, it's easier to read this way: cyclo do decane)

since various web sites and published papers have already explained about this little buddy in all its complexity (just google it and check out the JAIC and consdist list pages), i'll keep it simple.

Cyclododecane is an alicyclic hydrocarbon.....uh...that is, it's a neutral substance. that is a wax-like solid at room temperature. it's non-toxic. and insoluble in water. which is the key, because we used it to keep some inks from getting wet and bleeding during aqueous treatments. a.k.a as a fixative for water sensitive stuff.

it's most thrilling property--it sublimes. which means, it volatilizes from a solid directly to a gas in normal room temperature. so you can use it as a consolidant and fixative, and in a few weeks time it's gone all by itself, damaging nothing.

so here's what we did. there was a sticker on a paper that we needed to remove. in water. but this sticker had a suspect ink we wanted to keep from bleeding onto the document. so. we melted the cyclododcane (melts at 35-65 degrees C) and dripped it over the problem ink. we dunked it all in a bath, removed the sticker, and hung it all to dry.

i took the sticker with the remaining gob of cyclododecane (more of a glob than was necessary, btw) and this is what it looked like on August 4.

on August 7th

August 12th

August 15th

August 21st

and finally, September 2nd......

after one month, the subliming is complete!

cyclododecane's usefulness reaches beyond this, as does the complexity of the chemistry beyond it, but mostly i found it very satisfying to work with such a sublime substance that helps without damage and takes care of itself.