New Kid on the Block

 

A headshot of Rebecca Jacobs

Hi all! I’m Rebecca Jacobs, the new Paper Conservation Technician. I have worked in the lab for about a month and have spent my time learning new skills like mending and encapsulation, as well as creating custom boxes and enclosures. While I’m new to this position, I’m not a stranger to the Indiana University community. You may have seen me around a few years ago at the Kinsey Institute where I helped care for and digitize works in the art collection, or more recently over at Kelley School of Business where I worked as the Selection Archivist.

 

In addition to working with collections at IU, I’ve also worked for the Indiana Historical Society as a Metadata Cataloging Assistant and have held internships and worked on collaborative projects with many of the museums in the Indianapolis area. I’ve enjoyed working at the Preservation Lab so far because it has given me a chance to use tools that are new to me and to improve my skills on detailed work like mending, and focus on learning more about paper as a material type.

An archival box with a note written for Rebecca
Archival boxes filled with photographs that I digitized for the Indiana Historical Society

 

 

 

 

 

An object mount and a small coin purse in a custom-made box
A custom box I created for a museum object
Rebecca Jacobs and Christina Cichra clean an ornithology mount.
Colleague Christina Cichra and I cleaning ornithology mounts at Eagle Creek Ornithology Center for a collaborative project with the IUPUI Museum Studies Department

When I’m not working at the Preservation Lab, one of my favorite things to do is experience collections at other cultural institutions as a visitor. Getting to interact with objects in this way reminds me of why I was originally drawn to Collections Care and Preservation and prompts me to reflect on how my work connects to how visitors create their own experiences with collections. I’m excited to carry this intention into 2019 at the Preservation Lab, and hope to share more about projects I’m working on in the coming months.

Rebecca Jacobs appears to touch the sculpture, Eye
Spending free time checking out the sculptures at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Scuplture: “Eye”, Tony Tasset

 

 

Floating Disks

Sorry, this isn’t about alien spaceships. It is about how we designed an enclosure for delaminating lacquer disks so that their delicate surfaces do not come in contact with the box.

Delaminating lacquer disk
Delaminating lacquer disk

A large-scale preservation effort, known as the Media Digitization and Preservation Initative (MDPI), is underway at Indiana University to preserve all of the important time-based media held in IU’s libraries, archives, and research centers. Among the many time-based media treasures at IU are approximately 8,000 early lacquer disk sound recordings, almost all of them rare or unique. Most of them are from the fabulous collections of the Archives of Traditional Music and the William and Gayle Cook Music Library.

Lacquer disks are chemically unstable and therefore among the top priorities for preservation action. The lacquer (information) layer, which is made of nitrocellulose, deteriorates, begins to shrink, crack, and lift away from the disk surface. The conditions in which lacquer disks are stored (temperature and relative humidity) have the greatest impact on their rate of deterioration. Heat and moisture accelerate the chemical reactions that cause decay, so cool, dry storage is essential if they are to survive.

Lacquer disks in stable condition can be copied by playing the disk using a stylus, but those with delaminating lacquer can only be copied using an optical scanning technique known as IRENE.

So the immediate purpose of the floating disk box is to provide protection for the delaminating disks until they can be scanned optically. The usual storage method for sound disks is in sleeves and standing upright, but of course this is death to a delaminating lacquer disk. The boxes may also serve the purpose of permanent storage containers, since the majority of these recordings are unique, and future advances may provide better ways to capture and preserve the information they contain with greater fidelity.

We are fortunate in the IU Libraries Preservation Department to have a Kasemake automated box-making machine, which can cut, crease, and print on board stocks of various kinds from instructions transmitted from a CAD-like program. It can also cut circles as effortlessly as straight lines, which is a very nice thing!

Herb McBride, the Preservation Department’s Kasemake Specialist, and I developed the design for the floating disk box, made a few prototypes, and got feedback from Mike Casey, Jonathan Richardson, Melissa Widzinski, and Daniel Figurelli of the MDPI, until we were all happy with the design. Then we made a first batch of fifty boxes for 16” lacquer disks. (Lacquer disks come in other sizes too.)

Bottom tray of disk box
Bottom tray, assembled


The box is constructed from the following parts:

  • Bottom tray, all four sides are double thickness
  • Liner for inside the bottom tray, with a 1/8” diameter hole in the center
  • 4-layers of round window mat with finger cut-outs
  • 2 “donuts” with 1/8” diameter holes in the centers
  • 2 plastic washers
  • ½” aluminum screw post (the kind used in post bindings)
  • Lid, all four sides are single thickness

The bottom tray, liner, and lid are made from “E-flute” 1/16th inch thick acid-free corrugated board. The 4 window mats and 2 donuts are made from “B-flute” 1/8th inch thick acid-free corrugated board.

Bottom tray of disk box
Bottom tray, not folded yet

First the bottom tray is folded up.

Underside of the liner, with screw post in place and double-sided tape (with backing still on)
Underside of the liner, with screw post in place and double-sided tape (with backing still on)

Then the screw post is pushed through the liner’s center hole, and two donuts are pushed onto the post from the other side. Double-sided tape (3M 415) is used to adhere the liner to the bottom tray, and the window mats are adhered to the liner the same way.

The disk floats on top of the two donuts, then two plastic washers are placed over the disk on the post and then the screw half of the screw post is screwed in place.

Two donuts, two plastic washers, and screw post. MDPI staff remove the screw and washers, put the disk in place, and replace the washers and screw on top. They have the option of putting one of the two donuts on top of the disk.
Two donuts, two plastic washers, and screw post. MDPI staff remove the screw and washers, put the disk in place, and replace the washers and screw on top. They have the option of putting one of the two donuts on top of the disk.

The disk is immobilized and only the paper label surface touches anything. The depth of the window mats and the screw post keep the box lid from touching the disk surface.

Box and lid with disk inside
Box and lid with disk inside

We made fifty boxes on the Kasemake at the rate of about 8 minutes per box to cut and crease all the parts. Then we assembled them, which took about 15 minutes each to fold, stick on the tape, assemble the liner, post, donuts, and washers, and form the box lid (the corner flaps were adhered with PVA).

Digital Brown Bag talk

I’ll be speaking next week in the IU Libraries Scholar’s Commons about the 3-D enclosure developed last summer. There will be a simulcast on Adobe Connect as well as a feed on Twitter if you can’t attend in person.

A Collaboration of 3-D Modeling and Automated Box Manufacture for Library Special Collections Enclosures

March 9th 2016 @ 12:00pm
Hazelbaker Lecture Hall (E159)

Doug Sanders, Paper Conservator
E. Lingle Craig Preservation Laboratory

The manufacture of protective enclosures is part of routine work in many libraries and museums. This presentation summarizes a novel collaboration of 3-D scanning and modeling technology provided by digital technology available on campus with automated box making services internal to Library Preservation. A custom-fitted enclosure for a painting on wood panel within the Lilly Library collections was the net result. This developmental method holds promise for specialized storage and shipping protection of library, scientific research and museum collections.
Spring 2016 Digital Library Brown Bag Series
The Digital Library Brown Bag Series presentations are held in the Herman B Wells Library from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST. The complete schedule is available at: http://libraries.iub.edu/digital-library-brown-bag-series.

Watch the presentation here http://connect.iu.edu/diglib. If you are not a registered Connect user, select “Enter as a Guest”.

Sign up for email reminders! Send an email to iulist@iulist.indiana.edu with the message body: sub dl-brownbag-l Your Full Name

A Collaboration of 3-D Modelling and Automated Box Manufacture for Library Special Collections Enclosures

The E. Lingle Craig Preservation Lab routinely produces a large number of enclosures for both bound and unbound materials within our campus research collections. Enclosures range from simple pamphlet binders and folders to more complex phase boxes, tuxedo wrappers and special collection clamshell or drop-spine boxes. Construction can occur manually, semi-automatedly, or a combination of the two.

Generally, manually-made enclosures are constructed for special collections books and manuscripts as well as personal effects that often accompany our paper-based collections (medals, watches, tobacco pipes, trophies for example). Build-ups, wells and sink mats are relied upon to hold such materials.

The Kasemake is a semi-automated system developed by Conservation By Design, relying on an operator inputting length, width and height measurements into a CAD-based system with output to a machine that can cut, score and label form-fitting boxes; the designs for which come from a wide catalog of template options. Kasemake machines are being utilized in many libraries and archives throughout the world. Our Kasemake KM503A purchased in 2001 was the first in North America; fiscal year 2013/2014 saw 5000 enclosures constructed with this piece of equipment. It is worth noting that other box-making systems are also in place within many large libraries.

There are several limitations to the current approach which from time to time call on more innovative solutions. Enclosures made by both systems generally rely on wrapping simple shapes with right angles and slab-like forms. These methods cannot always follow three dimensional contours accurately and rely on stabilizing the irregular object at a limited number of contact points through collars, struts, slots and posts. Form-fitting wells of foam are the preferred choice, but very difficult to make accurately by hand.

verdi 3

 

In Spring 2015, the Preservation Lab received a painting on wooden panel from the Lilly Library. The panel is a single piece of wood measuring 35.5cm x 25.0cm x .5 cm thick. 1.0 cm battens run the full width along the top and bottom of the verso. Warping of the panel has occurred, resulting in a subtle saddle shape. Internal stresses also produced several longitudinal splits through the board. The painted surface suffers from active cleavage and loss.

The curator overseeing the project wished for the panel to receive an enclosure that would protect the item from handling, offer support in storage and be straightforward enough that staff could remove the item for access and return it without much manipulation of the panel, or its enclosure.

Typically, we would pad out a box with rolls or blocks of archival-quality foam to support selected areas.  In this particular case, conservation staff felt that localized support would not be enough, as the panel rested level on only two points of contact. There was vibration concern for the paint layer as well as a restriction that nothing could be placed directly on top. We also wanted to come up with a solution that would allow for subtle changes to the panel dimensions through environmental fluctuation.

After some discussion, it was envisioned that a form-fitting cradle, following the complete contour of the verso surface would meet our needs. 3D scanning and computer modeling was thought to be the best route to the construction of the form. A literature search revealed little published work applying 3D scanning technology to museum and library storage. Our scanning and fabrication options were initially thought to be either a rapid prototyping machine (ie. 3D printer) or a router-based CNC (Computer Numerical Control) system that would carve the void out of a block of foam. Neither was a good solution from a conservation perspective nor necessarily available to us. We realized that our Kasemake box fabrication machine could potentially be used to create a form, in an additive manner based on the build-up of layers of foam.

Conservation staff sought scanning and modeling expertise across campus departments at Indiana University, Bloomington. It was found that the Center for Biological Research Collections had recently purchased a scanner to begin a project of digitizing its vast consortial collection of biological and paleontological reference materials. Gary Motz, CBRC Project Coordinator generously offered to use his equipment for our purposes. Further help came from Jeff Rogers, Principal Project Analyst at the IU Advanced Visualization Lab who would digitally model the enclosure volume. With luck, we hoped that the team could generate files that could be exported to our Kasemake machine for fabrication.

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The initial scan was generated with a FARO Edge ScanArm ES. This is a hand-held laser scanner and non-contact measurement system. The panel was gently inverted on the work surface of the scanner, to reveal the contour of the underside.

IMG_3676

 

Several passes of the scan arm were needed due to the laser-absorptive capacity of the wooden panel. Once finished, the scanning process created a geometric mesh of 214,000 individual points, and polygons connecting those points to describe the surface of the panel: termed a ‘point cloud’

3

The scan data was then manipulated with Geomagic Design X to create a mathematically described surface which was exported to Rhino 3D for modelling. Surfaces were trimmed to create a volume which was scaled up roughly 2mm in order to create a marginally loose-fitting enclosure around it.

05

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After a virtual enclosure was created that entailed a contour-fitting cushion as well as a 2.5cm margin around all sides with finger holes, the rendered volume was ‘sliced’ horizontally into 3.175mm thick layers to simulate the thickness of Volara foam. Volara Type A foam is a closed cell polyethylene foam used widely within the conservation community. Its smooth surface, 1/8” thickness, white color and relative ease of cutting made it the preferred choice, over archival sheet foams such as Ethafoam and Plastazote. The files describing the shape of each of these slices were exported in CAD .dxf format to our Kasemake machine, for the final cut-out supervised by our in-house enclosure specialist.

kasemake cutting

 

There was a minor complication with cutting in the form of a static charge that built up within the foam itself. Typically, the material to be cut is held to the cutting bed by air pressure generated from a vacuum pump underneath. In our case, a Teflon fitting on the cutting head and the Volara polyethylene foam built up sufficient static attraction to dislodge from the bed at times. This resulted in a slightly crooked cut in places, although the error was never greater than 2 mm in scale.

Once each layer was cut out, the stack was hand assembled with archival 3M #415 double-sided tape to create the final form as PVA glues and hot melt adhesives both present bonding difficulties. It should be noted that Volara Type A foam comes with an optional adhesive backing, reported by the manufacturer to be a non-yellowing acrylic base. We were unable to find any testing of this material within the conservation literature so decided to use our own bonding method. A fitted box, with separate tray and lid was also cut out on the Kasemake utilizing archival-quality E-flute corrugated board.

fabrication 2

 

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Though there was a considerable time investment for this initial investigation, the project is considered a success. The fragile wooden panel is now held and protected by a cushion of foam. For those labs and institutions without an automated cutting machine, the files of each individual layer could be exported to a large plotter printer and cut out of paper, to serve as templates for manually cutting foam.

Other areas of development lie in determining alternate methods of bonding the foam layers together. Some experimentation has shown that passing a hot needle through the layers can bond them together. The foam layers could also be modelled and oriented vertically, in effect wedging them into place in the box, perhaps alleviating the need for adhesion.

As more 3D scanning and fabrication products enter the market, we foresee greater development in customized storage solutions for collecting institutions. The Center for Biological Research Collections has expressed an interest in pursuing this collaboration further for the storage of some very fragile human remains in their paleontological collection. At the time of this posting, the Advanced Visualization Lab has purchased two new hand-held scanners; promising greater ease of use and portability.

panel in box 2

 

 

The author would like to extend thanks to those staff members of Indiana University who made this project possible:

Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts, Lilly Library

Arini Esarey, Paper Conservation Technician, E. Lingle Craig Preservation Lab

Herb McBride, Enclosure Specialist, E. Lingle Craig Preservation Lab

Gary Motz, Project Coordinator, Center for Biological Research Collections

Jeff Rogers, Principal Project Analyst, Advanced Visualization Lab