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In progress photo of Katarina washing leaves from Lux Evangelica. (Image: Zoe Webb)
In September, I began my third-year internship at the University of Iowa Libraries Conservation Lab. I am spending my time under the supervision of Giselle Simón and Beth Stone, and I'm very excited to be learning from them as well as experiencing all that Iowa City has to offer. The lab provides treatment for all of the Libraries' collections, advises on handling and storage, and prepares materials for exhibition.
From a miniature Qur'an to a Remmelin anatomy folio, I am able to work on a wide variety of books in the Libraries' collections. One of the projects that I am currently working on is the treatment of a 17th-century printed book. The book, Lux Evangelica by Henricus Engelgrave, is a religious emblem book. It contains over fifty engravings and accompanying text to aid in sermons and devotionals.
With detached boards and broken sewing, the book cannot be safely used by researchers in its current condition. I have washed and resized the textblock to remove acidic degradation products and reintroduce pliability into the paper. I am now repairing tears and losses with kozo paper in order to stabilize the textblock enough to be resewn. Judging from the number of sewing holes along the textblock spine, the book has undergone numerous sewing campaigns, and I am looking forward to implementing a rebinding approach that conserves surviving material while enabling long term use and access as a library object.
Besides working on complex treatments in the conservation lab, I am also able to attend workshops and events at the UI Center for the Book. Most recently, I participated in the annual Kozo Harvest at the Oakdale Paper Research Facility hosted by UICB lecturer Nicholas Cladis. We spent the day harvesting, steaming, and peeling a field of kozo. The fibers will be made into sheets of paper, some of which might ultimately find their way into a conservation lab. Kozo paper is naturally strong, durable, and flexible due to its long fibers. It is also pH neutral, so it does not yellow or weaken over time like other papers. Thin kozo paper is translucent while still being quite strong, allowing for a more discrete repair.
By getting to participate in this making process, I have a greater understanding and appreciation of the repair papers that I often use in conservation treatment projects. It has also been an incredible opportunity to build relationships within the book and paper community at large.
— Katarina Stiller, WUDPAC Class of 2024
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An engraving from Lux Evangelica. (Image: Katarina Stiller)
Lux evangelica sub velum sacrorum emblematum recondita in anni dominicas, selecta historia & morali doctrina varie adumbrata / per Hen. Engelgrave.
In progress photo of Lux Evangelica being mended with kozo paper. (Image: Katarina Stiller)
Katarina stripping the bark from a steamed kozo branch. (Image: Clara Reynen)