The Paper Itself, More Than What is On It

18 02 2012

Mostly, I spend more time looking at and appreciating the paper of an artifact than I do the information on it.  I can’t deny that I love the artwork, the history, the stories that people bring to me to fix, but once I commence to working, it’s the paper fibers themselves that fascinate me.  If there is paint or ink, it’s the ways those media are entangled in the fibers that absorbs my attention.

And so I adore that Tim Barrett was given a Fulbright grant and a MacArthur Fellowship to make paper, and that his work is getting the support and interest it deserves.  Here is a NY Times article.

I love this part: ““I describe the paper [Barrett-made paper] to the students,” Galvin says, “and I talk about the care, knowledge and aesthetic wisdom that went into making it. Then I tell them to go home and write something on it that makes it more interesting than it is when it’s blank.”

 

 





My Alma Mater

10 12 2008

Here is a video about the Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record, recently posted on the University of Texas website.  I’m so proud!

Images from the Kilgarlin Center website

Images from the Kilgarlin Center website





Ooooh. Microscopy.

17 10 2008

I miss having a microscope.  Here are the National Geographic Best Microscopic Images. This one is Japanese Paper





Water Conservation in Paper Labs

14 12 2007

I spent a good part of this week wrist-deep in tubs of water. Just my wrists and hands, mind you, although when the water was warm I was tempted to climb in with the print I was attempting to remove from it’s backing board. Bending over a tub while removing mat fragments from the surface of another print, I had time to think about water.

It’s a topic I come to often – one with a hefty portion of guilt attached. I’m one of those people who makes sure to turn off the tap while I brush my teeth. If I leave a glass of water sitting overnight, I toss it on a plant instead of down the drain. I’m careful about our water-using appliances at home. I have a garden made up of agave, sage, and yucca, and I water my veggies sparingly – poor things. I pay attention to the dwindling resources and water fights in this country and others. I feel pretty sure the next world war, or our very own civil war, won’t be over oil, but potable water.

So when it comes time to pour gallons of water down the drain every work week just to make pieces of paper a bit more flexible, a bit less brown, I flinch. And I wonder how to reconcile the actions of my career with the needs of the global community, just as I do at home.

I don’t have any answers yet, but I plan to talk about this fairly often on this blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Eventually, I’d like to form some sort of discussion group, but if all that happens is that I get some people thinking, that’ll be good too. There’s a lot to discuss. I have ideas…

Here are some:

  • Re-examine paper washing research through the lens of water efficiency. For example, is blotter washing effective enough, even when the media could handle immersion? Would the water savings offset the water needed to rinse or recycle blotter? (And how much paper/blotter recycling happens in paper labs, anyways?). What about shallow, frequently changed baths vs. deeper, longer ones?
  • Start measuring exactly how much water is used during the course of treatment, to increase water use awareness.
  • Measure the environmental impact of what we pour down the drain
  • Explore the possibility of instituting gray water recycling and installation of water-saving devices, especially in all those new green-built facilities.

So, please, let me know your ideas!





Tape is Evil

21 11 2007

All paper conservators know the agony and the ecstasy tape brings to our lives: the joy of warming our hands with a blow dryer while joyfully peeling still-sticky polyester tape off of a smooth-fibered paper…and the wretchedness of cross-linked, stubborn, horrible, awful, no-good masking tape that refuses to let go of the brittle, brown paper held in it’s clutches. Hours of swearing, hours of hunched scraping, and in the end, we hope, a bit of paper that might live a little longer, be a little prettier

And am I the only one who, every time, is sent back to pleasurable childhood memories of peeling things off of other things? It’s a kind of disgusting version of Proust’s madeline, isn’t it, to remember the deep satisfaction of peeling off intact inches of dead skin after a sunburn – the bigger the surface area that came off whole, the better. I remember practicing with Elmer’s glue – covering my palm with it, letting it dry, and trying to peel it off whole. I think of these things every time I sit in the zen-zone, peeling tape off of someone’s beloved letter or book or watercolor.

So, I’ve created some stuff you can buy to celebrate the struggle. Check it out at http://www.cafepress.com/tapeisevil

Enjoy!








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