We have a guest post for you this morning from Olivia Hill, who is currently doing work experience here at the Library. We are all enjoying having her here, and have asked her to write a little about her experiences:
My name is Olivia Hill, I am a third year Art Restoration and Conservation student at the University of Lincoln. This is a three year practical degree which includes work on all things from tea cups to taxidermy as well as a lot of scientific work and the study of art history.
I am currently at Chetham’s Library for a six-week practical placement in paper and book conservation and restoration, as well as spending some of my time with the conservation bookbinder Cyril Formby. To have the opportunity to work in a place so rich in history and knowledge is at times overwhelming, but mostly extremely exciting!
I have had the good fortune to undertake several different projects during my time here, including dry-cleaning a set of prints, learning how to stain faded leather and apply leather dressing to books, as well as picking up invaluable skills in archival conservation-restoration, bookbinding, and in-situ conservation-restoration.
My time spent with Cyril Formby has been a fantastic experience, and I have been learning all kinds of new skills. Recently we washed and de-acidified prints from an old scrap book. This was a terrifying experience as it involved laying around fifteen prints in a large sink with hot water, then pushing them down and agitating the prints to help clean them. I was more than a little surprised when all the prints came out unharmed! However, the delicate work didn’t end there, we then had to carefully peel the prints off the paper they had been glued onto (another heart-in-mouth experience) and place them onto wire meshes to dry. Once dried the end results were fantastic: it has given a new lease of life to some of the older and more dirty prints, the detail is now more profound and they are great to look at. I also tried my hand at sewing a book for the first time, this turned out to be great fun and I don’t think anything went too wrong!
All I hope now is that the breadth of knowledge from these books and experiences will enter my brain via osmosis during my time here and I will leave a genius!