Conservation Student- Claire Hutchison

In this week’s blog, Claire, our first placement student of the summer describes her experience of working with us…

My name is Claire and I am a conservation student from Northumbria University, specialising in paper conservation. This is the first of several voluntary work placements I must carry out as part of my Master’s degree. Working at the conservation studio the past two weeks has challenged me to work with new materials outside of my specialism.

Claire working in the studio

I have been working on artworks that will be displayed as part of the University’s new exhibition, ‘Highlands to Hindustan’ which goes on display at the end of July. My role was to conserve the works where needed, but to also improve the storage and display of the objects. This meant a great deal of multi-tasking and time management. Continue reading

Crowdsourcing Conservation at the CRC

In this week’s blog, Special Collections Conservator Emily, describes the highly successful crowdsourcing conservation event held in February at the CRC…

In February, we held our first ever conservation crowdsourcing event here at the CRC. Over a two-day period, with the help of 24 participants, we aimed to rehouse section II of the Laing manuscripts in acid-free folders and boxes. Laing’s collection of charters and other papers is the University’s most important manuscript collection. Highlights of the collections include letters by Kings and Queens of Scotland and England, poems in the hand of Robert Burns and early manuscripts in Gaelic and Middle Scots. You can find out more about the collection here. The collection was in poor condition due to its housing in unsuitable upright boxes and folders. It was difficult to access and there was a risk of further damage every time it is handled.

Laing II boxes on the shelf, before treatment

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New Conservation Internship at the CRC

This week’s blog is written by our new conservation Intern, Holly, who is working on a collections rationalisation project within the rare books department…

I am now beginning my third week as an Intern here at the conservation studio, and thought I would take the time to briefly introduce myself and the project.

I am a current student at the University, studying for an MSc in Book History and Material Culture. The opportunities provided through this degree since it’s commencement in September have allowed me to realise fully a long-held belief in the irreplaceable importance of cultural heritage, and I soon wanted to get involved and gain experience in the field of conservation. As such, I have been a volunteer in the conservation studio since January, and when the advert for this internship was brought to my attention, I jumped at the chance.

Holly working in the studio

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Thomson-Walker Internship – Round 3!

In this week’s blog we hear from Clàudia Callau Buxaderas, who is the third in a series of interns to work on the Thomson-Walker collection…

It has been almost eight weeks since I started my internship at the CRC and sadly, this is already my last week working here. After graduating in conservation at the University of Barcelona, I worked as an intern in other institutions and studios around Spain and now I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work on the Thomson-Walker collection, a large collection of 2700 prints. I am the third conservator to work on this project, which has definitely been an advantage as I was able to start my work on the very first day. I have to thank the two interns before me for that, Samantha Cawson and Victoria Haddock, as they have provided detailed reports to help the future interns on this project. This information has been essential for me to get into the rhythm and way of working in the studio. In the same way, I hope to provide other interns in the future with some new ideas. Given the size the collection, it is always beneficial to find new ways and methods to speed up the work and to get the most of these (very short!) weeks.

Clàudia working in the studio

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Printmaking: Identification, Preservation and Creation

Immerse yourself in all things print! Join our conservators, Emily and Katharine, for an evening of preservation and printmaking. For centuries artists have been using different printing techniques to depict the world around them. In this workshop, you will get to study a range of prints from the University of Edinburgh’s Art Collection and learn how to identify them. You will find out about their unique conservation issues, and discover the best way to preserve them, before creating your own linocut to take home and treasure.

Date: Friday 19 May

Time: 6pm – 8pm

Cost: £5 (Advanced booking required) Book here.

Location: St Cecilia’s Hall, Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1NQ

For more info, please contact: 0131 651 1438 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri only)
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Organised by The University of Edinburgh Museum Collections

Print from the Thomson-Walker Collection depicting Giuseppe Atti (1753-1826)

Finding my way around the map and atlas collection

We catch up with Helen, our Projects Conservator at the University Collections Facility (UCF), in this week’s blog…

As the Rationalisation Projects Conservator my role is to make sure that the risk of damage to the objects which are housed at the UCF is minimised during the project. It is my job to make sure that the objects can be safely handled by the cataloguing team and any readers who come to visit. I am currently working on a collection of maps and atlases which date from around 1840. Many of these objects are beautifully illustrated and are an excellent example of the craftsmanship of the time.

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Several Theses in One Binding

In this week’s blog post, Projects Conservator Nicole, gives us an update on the work she is carrying out for the Thesis Digitisation Project…

I am currently working on a collection of theses ranging in date from 1838 – 1850. They consist of theses of all different sizes that have been bound in large book cloth bindings. Some bindings contain up to 9 individual theses, which has made the spine more than 10cm in width. With such large bindings and different sized pages, surface dirt has accumulated in between the individual theses, and the bottom of the spines have become distorted and narrowed.

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Theses before conservation treatment

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Scottish Session Papers Condition Survey

In this week’s blog, Special Collections Conservator, Emily, describes the conservation problems encountered during a condition survey of a collection of bound volumes…

I have recently carried out a condition survey of three collections of Scottish session papers across three sites in Edinburgh; the Centre for Research Collections, Signet Library and Advocates Library. Session papers are documents used in the presentation of cases in the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court. They are the written pleadings of contested cases, plus non-legal documentary exhibits such as drawings, plans and maps. The papers give a valuable insight into the social, economic, political and legal history of Scotland. I am carrying out this survey as a part of a pilot project to evaluate digitisation options, and estimate the time needed to conserve and digitise the collections and the associated costs. This project is being carried out in conjunction with John Bryden, Project Photographer in the Digital Imaging Unit team.

Session papers at the Centre for Research Collections

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Volunteer Voice – Valentina de Riso

In this week’s blog we bring you another edition of our volunteer voice, this time from Valentina de Riso, who volunteers in the conservation studio every week….

Valentina in the conservation studio

What is your name?

I’m Valentina de Riso.

Where are you from?

I’m from Italy and I’ve come to Scotland to study for an MSc in Comparative Literature at the University of Edinburgh.

What do you do when you are not volunteering?

I am a book lover and I have a passion for literature. When I’m not volunteering I love reading, writing short-stories and exploring the city of Edinburgh. I am also keen on old and used books, so I often happen to be in some second-hand bookshop, sniffing between pages and looking for rare books!

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A Book of Two Halves

Our Projects Conservator, Nicole, describes a technique for repairing books that have broken in half in this week’s blog…

I have now moved full time to the conservation studio at the main library and I have started working on the Latin thesis from 1726 – 1826 which contain a number of PhD thesis in one leather binding.

The majority of this collection is in good condition with just under half needing conservation treatment before digitisation, mostly quick treatments such as being board reattachment. A small number of volumes have been rebound with a hollow and using book cloth which makes them more accessible and easier to be digitised. However, 46 volumes have broken sewing resulting in the text block breaking in half or in some cases three or four separate pieces. This has been caused by repeated use, and forcing the volumes open.

An example of a Latin thesis broken in half

An example of a Latin thesis broken in half, before conservation

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