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Craig Preservation Lab

Enclosure for Artist’s Book

IU Fine Arts Library owns over 1800 artist’s books and, over the years, I have been lucky enough to make protective enclosures for many of them!

It is a lot of fun when you first get them, especially the not so “ordinary” ones. At the first look you would not necessarily think of the item as a book at all. Many times they are very unusual shapes and sizes with multiple parts, made of all kinds of different materials. Making the enclosure can be sometimes quite challenging.

Recently we got a surprise artist’s book! It was made by one of our previous student employees: Hannah Helton. I remember her talking about the making of it while working in our lab! The title of her book is “Lois crouched in the tree, unmoving, blind. Then suddenly, a pair of yellow eyes shone again.” Her “book” is like a small jewelry box with a hinged lid (enamel set on top) which opens and simultaneously pulls up a paper tree; two silver animals can be moved back and forth inside.

I want to show you the clamshell I created for Hannah’s artist’s book and some of the steps I took to make it:

Featured image

1. Finished box with the title.


2. Pieces to be housed together; the box and exhibition advertisement card.


3. Detail picture of the beautiful box, lid open.

At first, the two items going to be housed together seemed to be somewhat problematic to fit conveniently together. With this in mind, I decided to make the A (inner) tray with lid, where I was able to attach a pocket with the card on top. Having the lid helps to keep the box securely in place and gave me a place to attach some archival foam for cushioning. As a nice little detail, I stitched the lid into the cloth on the end before finishing the cover tray.

I wanted to build and place the supports in the tray so that the box could be lifted freely/easily off from the tray.


4. Tray A and built-ups, made of blue corrugated board pieces glued together, ready to be covered with cloth.


5. Lid being stitched onto the back cloth of the A tray.


6. Finished A tray, lid closed with the pocket.


7. Completed clamshell open.


8. The A tray ended up having a handy place to keep a pair of cotton gloves for handling the item.

This was a fun challenge for me! I always enjoy working with artist’s books. It made it even more special since I know the artist.

Link for making a cloth-covered clamshell box in our manual.

Submitted by Anitta Salkola-White

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