Monday, March 28, 2011

"A page of history is worth a volume of logic." ~O. W. Holmes

If you didn't catch this news article a little bit ago, here's a link to a story about a letter we received from a donor. By "preserved by archivists", they mean me. You can see the Hansch's signature on the back here. A very pretty 300 yr old letter anyway.
The first order of business was to deacidify the paper. Though it is in fairly good condition, the cotton rag paper is starting to yellow. We need to prevent it from becoming more brittle. This little spray bottle to the left has a formula that works wonders (see Preservation Technologies' website) and no worries! It won't harm the paper. Spray a fine mist on it, about 6-12 inches away, let it dry, and flip it over to repeat.

Once the letter was nice and dry, it's time to encapsulate it in polyester film (or Mylar for those of you who prefer that term). There is no adhesive involved. The edges are sealed with our ultrasonic welder and it melts them to seal it. We decided to seal it on all four sides to keep it from air, dust, etc. The air has been forced out from in-between the layers of film using weights before welding the edges. This also keeps a suction seal inside and the pieces cannot slide around (right now, it's one sheet of paper but there is a small tear in the middle). You can see in this picture that it is lying between the sheets of polyester film and the weight is lying on top of it. This final flap will be folded over, leaving only a small edge of polyester film to be welded shut.

Ta da! All four sides are sealed and it's time to trim the edges. You can see a close-up of the sealed corners here on the left, particularly if you click on the picture. Usually, we seal both of the longer sides first and then finish up with the shorter sides (if we are completely enclosing it). If the item was extremely large and couldn't fit into the welder, we may resort to using archival double-sided tape to seal the film. Luckily, this letter was a nice and easy size. Because this letter is exceedingly rare and valuable, I don't want to risk trimming the edges on our large guillotine-style cutter. (I must find you a picture of it). Instead, I trimmed the edges very carefully with scissors. I left a little bit of room on the inside bordering the letter just in case we need to open it up again. If necessary, we can re-use the same pieces of polyester film and weld them shut again.

I then had to decide if I wanted to put it back in its archival folder or do something special for it. All that had been requested was to deacidify and encapsulate it, but I couldn't just rehouse it in its sad little folder. I didn't have time to create a custom cloth portfolio, so instead a created a very thin tux box, custom fit to the letter. No glue is needed, just folding, creasing (with a bone folder of course!), and adding some double-sided tape to keep the two pieces together. When it's all finished, you have a four-flap enclosure that opens up to reveal the letter in the middle.

But this still wasn't good enough, I thought. The 20 pt board of the enclosure is a good step toward protecting the letter, but it's not stiff enough. Solution: Secure the tux box inside a pamphlet binder using thick strips of double-sided tape. PVA could work also, but then I'd have to sandpaper the pam bind to get a rough surface, let it dry, etc. Double-sided tape is quicker and isn't touching the letter, so I'm happy. I chose one that is a perfect size for our tux box and leaves a little space around it. It's a little dark in the picture, but you can see that it is secured inside the binder. All done! I feel a bit better that it's in nice, protective set of coverings. And we scanned it of course. This is the 21st century after all.

Apologies if any of the layouts of this post come across as wonky on your browser. I switched to the new editing software that Blogger has and though it's supposed to be easier, it really wasn't. Especially with putting in pictures and getting the text not to look too weird.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time..."

"... a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic."~Adrienne Cook

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And what a beautiful day 'tis. It's a sunny 60 degrees and perfect for partaking of green beer, some Irish karaoke, and a little jig.

I promised you pictures of my little shamrocks that I would decorate my office with, but sadly I didn't get very far. I still only have my prototype half finished. The baby shower gift from my previous post has taken up much of my time. But no worries, I'll have to make the little shamrocks just because they are adorable.

Do you have plans for St. Patrick's Day? I couldn't attend the parade last week but I'm wearing my green and Celtic jewelry! Maybe someday when I start learning step dance I'll be able to BE in the parade. For now, I prefer the Irish Festival in September. All these thoughts of Ireland have me dreaming about our eventual visit. The Irish branch of my family is from Northern Ireland (County Tyrone: Cookstown and Omagh) but they have been here for about 200 hundred years, based in Ohio. I am eager, however, to visit these towns regardless of how long ago they lived there. And to see Ireland in general! It may warrant its own trip, separate from the rest of Europe. My family is also from Germany (Kappel Am Rhein in Baden) and Slovakia; it will be very exciting to someday visit these places but I would prefer to explore for weeks at a time!

Although my shamrocks aren't done, I can share with you the other little project I made for my friend's baby shower. It's green! Her nursery theme is going to be Super Mario Bros. 3 and I wanted it to tie into that. I had a bunch of ideas but ultimately, only enough time to make one. And of course, while I was working on it, I had great ideas to make it better. But not enough time! I constructed a stuffed Yoshi egg pillow from felt. It's stuffed full enough to make a firm pillow but it can also be tossed around. I originally wanted it a little more 3D, but decided to keep it flatter like a pillow since I didn't have much white felt. I also thought it would have been neat to make it more 3D, add a small zipper to the side, and have a little stuffed Yoshi inside! Maybe eventually I'll make another one. I traced a picture of a Yoshi egg that I had enlarged enough for an appropriate pillow size. I had first blown up a print-out on a photocopier, but that ended up not big enough. I then used that blow-up and took a picture of it with my webcam. On the laptop, I increased the size until it was about the size of my screen (a little bit bigger actually). I traced it directly off my laptop screen, adjusting the paper to scroll down for the rest of my image. I used my tracing paper just like pattern cutouts, pinning them to the fabric and cutting them out.

There were four spots in all. To attach the spots, I decided black thread would pop nicely. I used fabric glue to stick them down and then a running stitch around the inside edge of the spots to keep them secure and add a nice little detail. I didn't take any pictures of the blanket stitch I used to secure the two sides of the egg together. I decided to blanket stitch the two exterior sides facing each other and then flip them right side out. You can sort of see the black stitching, but I liked the effect since this is a prop from a video game (this is slightly visible in the finished picture on the top of the egg). And then I stuffed it using polyester fill, tiny little pieces that wouldn't make a lumpy pillow.

It was a lot of fun (I like using creative prompts, like the nursery theme, because it makes me come up with my own ideas to get excited about. I need parameters and deadlines!) and fairly quick. I pretty much finished it in one evening. And now to finish the other gift!

Monday, March 7, 2011

"When we begin life, we are all given a puzzle..."

"...each one very different, yet special. As we continue through our lives, we meet people and have some type of affect upon their life, as they do on ours. We share with them a piece of our puzzle and they share a piece of theirs, with us, in return. No matter what type of impact they had upon our life, we still carry along with us, a piece of their puzzle. Meaning that everyone we encounter has a special impact upon our lives, because they have shaped us into what we are today. This is called the puzzle of life. Each puzzle growing and changing throughout our lives, but always becoming better and always having the same foundational pieces." ~Erin Bridget Doyle

I know this quote is MUCH longer than the ones I usually dredge up. But it really seemed apropos for the post I wanted to make. None of the other puzzle quotes really worked (I certainly have no reason to discuss the NYT crossword puzzle since I'm more of a Sumdoku gal--and no, that is not a misspelling). I've been a bit silent online these past couple weeks because I'm working my fingers to the BONE trying to finish a gift for a friend's baby shower coming up this weekend. Which I'm also helping to host. And doing a million other things at the same time, of course. Of course! A horse is a horse...

OK, back on topic. I do love making and creating things, as you know. And this dear friend from high school usually receives homemade gifts from me, so how could I disappoint? I can't tell you exactly what it is (lest I spoil the surprise for her) and it's not finished, so it's not like I'm really keeping anything from you. This little lovely to the right is a sneak peek at what I'm making. There is probably no way I will actually have it finished for this weekend, unless I take the next few days off work and don't sleep (not that I wouldn't want to spend my days and nights crafting!).

I've had constant thoughts of how each little piece of this will add up into one "bigger picture" like a puzzle. A puzzle that I am hand-sewing piece by piece, much to the detriment of my joints. And this quote reminds me that not only are each of these fabric squares a smaller piece of the puzzle, but I am also a small piece of the life of my dear friend. And soon, her baby will be introduced to all of these pieces. I'm glad to be a part of your puzzle, Nicole!