Happy National Book Lovers Day! It’s the perfect occasion to crack open a new book and nothing says “read me” quite like a glassy title. Haunted stained-glass windows, historical glassmakers, magical glass objects – find all that and more on our guide to glass fiction: https://libguides.cmog.org/glassfiction
Say it isn’t so! The Rakow Library conservation interns have completed their time here. Help us say goodbye and good luck to Erin and Ilaria as they move on to their next adventure. To see some of the conservation work they accomplished this summer, check out their Instagram takeover from last week and their posts on our blog.
Watch Rakow Library conservation
intern Ilaria go through the first steps of treating tracing paper drawings
from the Laurence Saint Archive. What is tracing paper? It’s thin, machine-made
wove paper prepared in a Hollander beater (a.k.a. a paper pulp-making machine)
and treated with oils and resins. This treatment gives the paper a transparent
quality, allowing artists and designers to easily reproduce drawings. But the
same process also makes tracing paper a very difficult material to conserve.
Over time it becomes fragile and crispy, and must be handled carefully. Ilaria
and fellow intern Erin are two of the many conservators who help us keep our
collections in good shape!
Happy Whitefriars Wednesday! Here are some fun details from the drawings we’ve been treating. The dragon is a symbol of chaos and evil frequently depicted being slain by an angel or saint. The lion and lamb are common images in Christian iconography that symbolize peace and unity. The wolf and turtle are native to New York and show that the window designer may have incorporated local natural imagery into these windows (installed in a Lake George, NY, church). The two ships symbolize the journey of two local saints, Saints Isaac Jogues and Jean Lalande, made when coming to New York from France in the 17th century. The two castles symbolize protection and safety.
Our paper conservation interns are hard at work mending Whitefriars cartoons. A small fragment of this cartoon has detached completely, and – complicating matters – it’s part of the drawing itself rather than a piece from the margins. It’s important for Erin and Ilaria to repair this piece so people can get a clear idea of the design. Swipe through to see the mended cartoon. Although the tear is still somewhat visible, the work they have done has minimized its size and appearance, allowing the fragment to visually integrate with the drawing as a whole.
How do our Whitefriars drawings go from tightly rolled to perfectly flat? The answer is humidity! We set our drawings on trays above damped blotter paper. Then, we cover the drawings with a special material called Hollytex along with plastic sheeting. This allows the drawings to be exposed to water vapor without directly getting wet. The water vapor causes the fibers in the paper to swell, allowing the tightly rolled drawing to gently relax. We then place the objects under weights. We use large pieces of plastic and wood so that the pressure is evenly distributed over the surface of the drawings. The end result is a flat drawing that is much easier to handle and store!
Hello from the new Library conservation interns! Moya from West Lake Conservators joins us, Erin Fitterer and Ilaria Camerini, in front of the Whitefriars cartoons we will be treating. We will enjoy this job for summer 2018! We’ve already been busy documenting the condition of the objects before treatment, examining the different layers of silver gelatin photographs with microscopes to discover more information about the photos, and using different kinds of sponges and erasers to remove dust and surface dirt from drawings.
Watch with your own eyes as our talented flameworkers show you the process behind creating stunningly realistic looking glass eyes at 2:45pm daily. Then take a walk to the Rakow Research Library to see Curious and Curiouser and discover more curiosities in glass.
The efforts of alchemists to imitate rare materials in glass led to the development of gold ruby, a glass colored red by the interaction of light with very small particles of gold suspended within the glass. Gold ruby glasses were highly prized; when the stem and foot of this goblet were damaged, they were replaced with a turned wooden foot rather than throwing away the goblet. Explore the rare books that detail the alchemists’ original experiments in gold ruby glass for yourself in “Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds at the Rakow Library.”
Gold-ruby Goblet, probably engraved by Gottfried Spiller, Potsdam, Brandenburg (Germany), about 1690-1700. Gift of The Ruth Bryan Strauss Memorial Foundation. 79.3.258.
This woodcut depicting a glass furnace is from Georg Agricola’s De re metallica, one of the first technological books that looked at industries like mining and glassmaking. Accounts like this form a large part of our understanding of glassmaking throughout history. Learn more about historical glassmaking in “Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library.”
Berckwerck Buch / De re metallica, Georg Agricola, 1580. CMGL 66820.