Friday, April 27, 2012

Palladio - AT

Last August I had a post "Next Up" that was a preview of my treatment of Andrea Palladio's book "I qvattro libri dell'architettvra". It was part of an exhibit loan to the UVa art museum, so as soon as the
front cover of the new limp vellum binding
 treatment was done, the book was out the door to join "Variety, Archeology and Ornament". Now that the book is back from loan, I have had the opportunity to do final "after treatment" (AT) photo doc, so you can see the results.  Photographic and written documentation is a crucial part of conservation treatment, not only for the sake of documenting the "before" and "after" condition of the book, but also for documenting my working process so that I, or another conservator, years from now will be able to follow what worked well, or what didn't work well.

I'm sharing the documentation pictures that I will archive with the rest of my treatment notes.  Perhaps they look a little stiff, with the labels and the color bar?

front opening, showing how the textblock laces into the cover
 But, documentation is a formal process, capturing and communicating details for future reference.  In creating this conservation binding I consulted articles and reference books on limp velum bindings as well as a model binding I made in graduate school. 

My documentation will also describe the materials I used to create the limp vellum binding, and the sources from which I purchased them.  Alum tawed pig skin was used for the sewing supports and goat parchment was used for the cover.  Not the sort of items you find in your average corner store!

new endsheet and original title page

That said, the treatment of this Palladio volume was incredibly fun.  The research that informed my decision making process allowed me to spend time with another copy of this book, and revisit a binding structure that I had enjoyed during my graduate student days.  Conservation treatment inspires exploration through close examination of a particular artifact, but then leads you to a broader examination of books and bindings from a similar time and place.


page opening toward the center

I'll post more details in the next couple of weeks, showing some of the "during" steps and some more pictures related to my background research.  For now, take a look at the picture on the right, notice the openability of the book, there are no weights holding the book open, just the weight of the pages, draping smoothly and the vellum flexing in response.  Also notice the finger smudges halfway up the margins from more than 500 years of people flipping through the pages.