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Re: [BKARTS] Vellum Restoration


I'm no expert on the matter, but I was involved with a project where we
worked with lots of old vellum covers and this is how we worked the vellum
flat. I should also say what we were doing was not book restoration or
conservation, but was using elements of old damaged books and transforming
it. It sounds like you want to do something similar; reusing the parchment
and not trying to reattach the vellum to the existing boards. I learned the
following  from a book conservator working with us on the project.

If it is parchment, you can use a product called Sympatex (that's the name
in France, you could ask at Talas in NY for it I think). It's a polyester
?material that's hard to describe, but it has one side that absorbs and
holds moisture and the other face is a slick surface. The idea is that you
spritz the absorbant side with water and then the moisture slowly and evenly
disperses through the other side to the parchment. It's quite easy to work
with. Cut a piece of Sympatex double the size of the parchment. Cut a piece
of Mylar a little bit bigger than the sympatex. Spritz the absorbant side of
the Sympatex with water so that it is damp to the touch. Fold it in half
with the smooth surface to the inside (you're making an envelope for the
parchment). Place the parchment inside as flat as possible. Close the
sympatex and place this envelope inside the Mylar folded in half (an
envelope inside an envelope) and place on a table top with small weights at
the edge of the mylar to keep the whole thing tightly closed to hold the
moisture inside the envelope. Leave it overnight and normally by morning the
parchment has enough humidity to be worked. If it's not quite pliable yet,
you may not have wet the sympatex enough, so spritz again and leave the
parchment inside the envelope a little longer.
You could put water directly onto parchment but first of all it's going to
expand and then contract a whole lot more by putting water directly onto the
skin with a sponge or brush. And since the water would not be evenly
distributed it could expand unevenly.Also if there is any guilding or ink on
the parchment, applying water directly to the skin would risk lifting up the
ink/gold, as well as any dirt which might give the skin a patina that you
happen to like.
The skin could then be flattened in press with blotters and reemay or you
could directly paste and attach it onto different boards.
All that having been said, for making a piece of vellum pliable enough to
make your turn-ins, normally you just wet the turn-ins with a wet sponge or
cotton. If you're going to make a new set of covers the same size (or reuse
the existing boards), you could just insert the boards into the vellum, wet
the turn ins with a damp sponge, wait a few minutes, rewet again and then
paste them.  But if you want to make it perfectly flat to use in another
way, or have the vellum pasted well to the cover in the original manner, I
recommend the slow dispersion method. Warning it's expensive. If you're in
France, Frenchybob, they sell it at Stouls. You can also use Goretex but I
don't have experience with it. I believe it works on the same principle,
maybe someone else has advice for that.
I hope all that made sense...
Good luck

L Parker

From: "J. R. Bouvier" <Frenchybob@xxxxxxx>
Reply-To: Book_Arts-L <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Vellum Restoration
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2004 17:15:22 -0500

Restoration may not be quite the right word but - I have a small antique
book I purchased years ago for practicing binding in leather.  The vellum
now completely detached from the boards and I would like to reuse it.  I
would like to know if there are any treatments I can apply to make it more
pliable.  I'm leery of just wetting it.



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