A Retrospective Restoration: Oliver Twist

Today I’m sharing some old work because, well, I haven’t really made anything recently!

This is from a book arts course I took with Elias Roustom of EM Letterpress at Brown University. If I hadn’t decided to take this course, I’m not sure I would have discovered and fallen in love with the book arts as I have. Thank you, Elias! (Also, I’d be wrong if I didn’t acknowledge the influence of Evelyn as well…)

The assignment was to restore a book. Now, if you’re gonna go through the whole process of putting something back together, it’s much better if it’s something special. This copy of Oliver Twist was a gift to my grandmother Peggy from her British cousins when she was a young girl. It was passed to my father after her death in 1984.

It was falling apart by the time I got my hands on it. In all restorations, one has to make decide, what is the goal? Is this about historical preservation? Should any archival efforts be reversible? Is it better that we just build a clam-shell box for it and keep it stored away on a shelf?

My answer to these questions was essentially “No.”

Let the archivists cringe.

My primary goal in this restoration was to preserve the endsheet containing the inscription:

To Peggy,

A Souvener [sic] of your visit to East Greenwich, with love from all.

August 1936

I wanted to preserve it in such a way that this page could again be shared with others.

New endsheets were sewn onto the text block (these were made from pages salvaged from early 20th century encyclopedias) and the old endsheets “tipped-in.” New headbands were also robbed and modified from those old encyclopedias. I built a softcover from book cloth and glued in the textblock. The leather which made up the former cover was then glued to the book cloth.

Like all the good traditions, this book has changed along it’s journey through my family. Maybe its restoration wasn’t performed “correctly” according to a librarian or museum, but it was done according to the directions contained within: with love for all.


Wearing Watercolor Paintings

This gallery contains 4 photos.

On Friday night, I saw Watercolor Paintings perform at the Biko Garage in Isla Vista. Watercolor Paintings is made up of the sister-brother duo Rebecca and Josh Redman. I’m not a music critic so I’m not going to try to describe what their “sound” is (especially since you can just click the link), but I … Continue reading

Guillotine – Part II

When we last left the guillotine, I had only managed to remove the adjustable horizontal guide. Next, I completely removed the all-thread running below the track of the machine bed. When working, one is able to move the horizontal guide by spinning a wheel which turns the thread, pulling or pushing the guide along the track running down the center of the bed. Unfortunately, the horizontal guide mount had rusted into place inside the track. After removing the thread, I hammered out the horizontal guide mount using a rubber mallet.

After many scrubbings with WD40 and careful filing with a file, I was able to remove the grime and rust which had built up on the bed and inside the track.
Once I was able to slide the horizontal guide mount along the entire length of the track, reassembled the machine, screwing in the all-thread, and remounting the horizontal guide. While the blade still needs to be cleaned up and sharpened, the guillotine works!

A working guillotine!

Everything now moves beautifully and squeak-free!

The next challenge for the Challenge was to move it. This, it turned out, was not trivial.

I don’t have a number to offer you because I don’t have a scale that this thing wouldn’t destroy. But I can tell you this much: it’s heavy enough that no mere mortal could ever lift it, but light enough that two guys could be dumb enough to kill themselves trying. To get it onto the truck, I employed the help of my twin brother, my uncle, and a friend. You can see that the base is a separate component (light enough that one person can carry it alone).

Much thanks to Matt, Jeff, and Andy for help getting it into the bed!

My uncle was very happy to see me haul this away in his pickup.

Just getting to my place offered its own difficulties. My brother drove my uncle’s truck while I followed in his Volvo. My brother likes to wait until the absolute last minute to put gas in his car, and apparently had been driving with the fuel light on for the last couple days. This resulted in me running out of gas 4 minutes into the 8 minute drive from my uncle’s house to mine…*sigh*

Upon arrival, we unloaded the guillotine using a pair of wooden fence posts a la the arc of the covenant.

It took three of us to move it in from the driveway and onto my property. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a clear path to get it all the way into the workshop. Since I don’t think I’ll be cutting down the tree that prevented route number one, my current plan is to build a ramp and get a bunch of guys to help me carry it up and around the hill in the back. Either that, or build a crane. Until then, this is where it’s sitting.

Even with a dull blade, it cuts through phone books just fine!

Even with a dull blade, it cuts through phone books just fine!

Fortunately, it is possible to work outside in California winters.