Friday, 3 February 2012

From the conservation studio...

Fiona, one of our conservation volunteers, has written our blog for this week.

Fiona started volunteering with us in October last year and has been trained by our paper conservator in various techniques to clean and repair collection items. In an arrangement with our Centre for Research Collections colleagues, Fiona has been working on an item from the University’s collection to widen her experience. Here Fiona talks about a fascinating volume from Special Collections that she has been conserving by using the skills she has developed with LHSA.

This is my first visit to the Archive of 2012, and my sixth visit overall. I am now beginning to recognise lots of faces and even remember some names!

I began the day, and the year, with a really interesting lesson in how to use the camera equipment more professionally, and photographed my project so that I can use the photographs for a portfolio of my work. It was so enjoyable getting some good shots, as I had taken some pictures before I began cleaning it which could definitely be described as ‘snaps’!

Detail showing damage to the binding

I then returned to surface cleaning my project - it is a fascinating piece of work! I am conserving the Fire Insurance Plans of Edinburgh from 1892 to 1960. It includes detailed and coloured plans of the most commercial parts of Edinburgh - George Street, the Bridges, Princes St etc. - including names and type of business, and these have been resurveyed and updated several times through the 70-odd years of use. It shows every little lane and all the levels of the buildings are labelled. It is just wonderful to work with (if a little grubby at first!).

Detail showing one of the plans and a large area of surface dirt (bottom middle)

I have now finished the surface cleaning, which is good as it had been gathering dust for a long time! I have learned how to look out for different areas such as layers of paper and coloured or written-on pieces of the object as they are much more delicate and need to be respected. The Fire Plans are now much more pleasant to handle. Next time, I will be learning how to repair tears and that will allow me to finish its treatment.

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