For the project below, it took at least nine months before I could get it back to the owner. Clearly, I will not be able to make a living out of this any time soon as a result of being in the full-time mom role. Part of the complication of trying to keep one foot in this work but not being able to be full in, is that there are certain parts of the process that you need to do in the same day. It’s too challenging to come back to the middle of a step after two weeks because you have to start back at the beginning to make sure you are picking up at the correct place. I am grateful to my teacher at the SF Center for the Book who I was able to email throughout the process for guidance.
This book belonged to the mother of a friend and held sentimental value. My primary goal was to repair the cover of the book so that he could actually use it without fear of the text block falling apart or becoming further damaged. It was not possible to remove the years of staining on the cover although I tried by dry cleaning it with gum eraser.
One of the challenges for me was finding the closest color of new cloth to remake the cover. Because of the way the sun had faded the book, the spine was a different color than the front and back boards and there was significant dark colored spotting. I didn’t want a color that was too bright and would accentuate the stains and the sun fading. I also had to paint out several swatches of acrylic paint on Japanese paper to come up with a close enough color to be able to reinforce a few of the corners of the cover where the original cloth had been worn down. Again, because of the fading and stains it was hard to know which color to match it to.
At the end of the day, I believe I made the book readable and safe for future generations. There is generous room in the spine. The cover opens easily and the text block (which included charming notes handwritten by his mother) is protected. Should the owner want to get an entirely new cover made, which would make it look completely different, but much more fancy, everything I did should be completely reversible without any damage to the original textblock. I used wheat paste or PVA mix on anything that touched original materials, and straight PVA is only on those items which were new. (Things placed down with wheat paste can be reversed.) I get great satisfaction knowing that the owner may be reading the book more comfortably now and without the same fear of hurting it. I only wish I could have gotten it back to him sooner.