The book press is finished!

Finally, I’ve finished fixing up the book press. You may remember her condition from this post back in January.

Here’s what she looked like then:


And after much experimenting with WD40, citrus based cleaners, rustoleum, and phosphoric acid, here’s what she looks like today, covered in two coats of clear satin polyurethane:


Seeds of Contemplation: A Restoration (Part II)

This is the second in a series of posts. For the first post, see Seeds of Contemplation: A Restoration (Part I).

While I could have built a nice clam shell box which would have allowed Seeds of Contemplation to sit comfortably undisturbed on a shelf, this didn’t seem appropriate. Unlike historical preservation work, my primary goal with this project was to make the book accessible again.

After liberating the text block from it’s original cover, I got to the task of building it a new one. This meant setting type and printing new titles.




Guillotine – Part III

Last time I posted about the guillotine, it was sitting outside in my back yard. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much of an improvement from it sitting outside in my uncle’s front yard.

I briefly entertained ideas of pulleys, levers, ramps and logs for moving the fully assembled behemoth around a hill and into the workshop. A couple sketches of Ancient Egyptian-esque cranes later, and I realized the absurdity of that approach. I was stumped until one day when I was talking to Elias. He said, “You know, those things aren’t too difficult to take apart…”

And so it began.

Once the bolts were out, the top spins right out with the wheel.

There’s the blade! I need to take it to Santa Barbara Saw to be sharpened.

After day 1, a few components made it into the workshop to keep the book press company.

One significant challenge was removing the pins which were held in place by the E-rings, shown above. (Note: E-rings are also known as “Jesus rings”, for the way they inspire people to invoke the name of the Lord when they fly across the room when they snap-off the pin.)

Looks like I’m making progress!

Now the base is still sitting outside, covered by a tarp, but it’s something that can easily be rotated and moved by two people. If I wanted to move the guillotine into the workshop and begin reassembling it today, I could. There are two reasons why I don’t want to do this:

1) I think it would be awesome to repaint each piece before reassembling. My plan is to remove the old paint, clean up the rusty parts with rustoleum, and then seal it all up with a new coat of paint. If anyone has any advice, please comment!

2) My landlord sold the property and gave me my 30 days eviction notice last week. Such is life.

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.