Improved Ties for Portfolios


Occasionally unbound items come into the Paper Lab that are too thin to warrant a corrugated box, but they usually require a more substantial enclosure than a folder. The middle ground between those two enclosures is a four-flap portfolio made out of 20 pt. stock or, in some instances, corrugated board.

After the portfolio is constructed, the way to secure it closed is by simply tying a length of twill tape around it like a Christmas present. Then the tape is glued in place or threaded through the back of the portfolio. The result is neither very attractive nor very efficient. When setting flat on a table, the portfolio flaps often pull away from the rest of the enclosure, no matter how tight the ties are. When open on a table, the ties easily get lost underneath the rest of the portfolio.

This photo shows just how loose the ties can be even after trying to pull them tight.

Lately I have been making more of these portfolios than usual, and I wanted to come up with a less wasteful, more effective way to secure them. A technique used in the General Conservation Lab for fastening binder’s tape to board looked promising, so I tried it a couple of months ago with a portfolio made out of B-flute corrugated board. The result was very satisfying, and took care of all my complaints about the former method.

And now the ties are nice and tight!

I wanted to be able to use the ties with portfolios made of thinner materials like 20 pt. stock, but I knew they would not hold up for long, if at all. A backing would be required.

Then I remembered Tyvek, which is easy to cut and almost impossible to tear. It also works well with PVA.

I put together some sample ties with and without Tyvek backing. The ties backed with Tyvek wouldn’t tear, no matter how hard I pulled. The ties glued directly to the surface of the board tore after the first big yank. I used the new method on an oversize portfolio that required two sets of ties, and the finished product looked as great as it is secure.

The front of the sample. The ties on the left won’t budge.
The back of the sample. Not much Tyvek is needed for an effective backing.

The advantages to this method are that there is less twill tape used per portfolio and the completed enclosure is stronger, more effective, neater in appearance, and more manageable for patrons and staff.

Left: the previous method with 20 pt. stock. Right: the new ties on E-flute corrugated board. 




New Employee News

For this month’s Preservation Lab Blog post, as her supervisor, let me introduce our newest full-time employee, Hannah Helton.

-Doug Sanders, Paper Conservator


20160801_085717Nearly four months ago I was hired as the Paper Conservation Technician for the paper lab. I was a student employee here before, so I expected to settle quickly into the lab’s daily rhythm, but the transition held a few surprises. On my third day as a full-time employee I set off the security alarm, met an IU police officer, handled a Spencer repeating rifle, read the world’s largest newspaper, and cut the tip off my left thumb.

I’m still learning something every day, whether it’s related to conservation methods or the cogs and gears of the IU libraries. I’m also meeting new people all the time, making acquaintances in departments across campus, and building stronger relationships with the people I met as a student employee.

After coming back to the lab, I was very excited to finally see the inside of the ALF vault. I never got a chance to enter it as a student employee, so it held a certain mystery for me. I’ve been there dozens of times now, but the feeling remains. There are a lot of dark aisles in the vault and little shadowed passageways between them, guarded by hundreds of thousands of books resting on shelving units three stories tall, and my imagination likes to run rampant within it.

I also discovered that my background in metalsmithing is very helpful to me here. I’m no longer fixing a solder joint, I’m mending paper. Instead of making vessels out of copper, I’m using corrugate. Even my jeweler’s saw has a place at work; it’s invaluable for cutting curves out of board and Foamcore. On my desk is a metal sculpture I made as a student at IU. Next to it is a cloth-covered box I made out of mat board to hold templates. Both items required very similar techniques to create very different outcomes.

I think that initial week was a personal record in odd accomplishments. I haven’t approached any coworkers with a bloodied hand since day three, but I have handled even more extraordinary objects and mastered my utility knife, so I’d say things are going pretty well for this IU Library employee.