So much of what we know as conservators is based on learning at the elbow of someone else. Discovering the perfect tip or trick is immensely valuable and can mean the difference between an elegant repair and one that is “good enough.”
This week we held an extended in-house workshop covering several types of leather repair techniques: headcap repair, Etherington tissue hinge, Brock split hinge repair, tacketing and rebacking. Our colleague, Craig Fansler, came up from Wake Forest University to learn along side us.
Mary demonstrated reconstructing damaged leather headcaps. This repair needs to not only look good, but it needs to function well and stand up to the flexing of the spine. Mary is very skilled at making these repairs, so she showed us her tips on creating well integrated and beautiful replacement headcaps.
Along the way we discussed the benefits of various adhesives and how to maximize their working properties to achieve the desired outcome.
Erin demonstrated the Etherington tissue hinge, tacketing, the Brock split linen hinge, and rebacking with leather. She showed us some of her prior rebacks to help us understand what the end result should look like, and had models for each of the repairs so we could see those as well. We discussed the benefits and detractions of each repair and why we would select one type of repair over another.
The most important tips we learned during our session were
- Selection is key to a successful repair, and
- Repairs should be done in stages and allowed to dry in between each stage. Going slowly and deliberately will lead to better decisions and a better final product.
I am very grateful to have such talented colleagues who are willing to share their expertise. Through this sort of collaborative training we can learn new skills and continue the tradition of passing on our knowledge. Craig has written a blog post on the Z. Reynolds Smithy blog. Be sure to check that out.