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Tom Conroy discussing tool cleaning

Tom Conroy gave the first session of the second day on repairing tools. Tom is a book restorer and fine binder who spent 7 years in formal training under Anne and Theodore Kahle and also earned an MLIS from Berkeley. Tom currently teaches at the American Bookbinders Museum in San Francisco. Tom spent several hours talking about removing rust from clamps with citric acid (what you call Sprite), repairing wobbly brushes, and re-seating gouges. He explained how various files are made and how to use them. He led an engaging conversation about scissors (who would’ve thought?) and sharpening them using a file. He also repaired several finishing presses as we watched.
I think almost everyone at ZSR has seen my board shear-the large deadly looking cutter with a wooden table as you enter Preservation. Tom insisted the best way to sharpen that tool was to cut a piece of thin brass sheet with it. I looked at the conservator sitting next to me and we both sort of said…what? Not everything in bookbinding is intuitive I guess.

Dominic Riley cleaning a spine

The afternoon session was led by Dominic Riley on Cloth Rebacking. Cloth rebacking is creating a new spine piece for a book using cloth (as the name implies). Dominic was a delightful speaker and in my case-the best was saved for last. Dominic is a bookbinder and film-maker who spent 10 years studying in San Francisco and then moved back to his native England. He has won several top prizes from the Guild of Bookworkers equivalent in the UK-the Designer Bookbinders. He taught a session on creating an invisible repair to a cloth binding which was practical and engaging to all present. He seemed to know everyone by their first name and carried on a light-hearted repartee as he worked.
He lifted the cloth and split the boards to attach color-matched cloth and end-sheets to create-as he described it, an invisible repair. We were also treated to film trailers of two films Dominic has made-one called “Seventy Years in Bookbinding:Portrait of Bernard Middleton” . This film may be on the Preservation “wish list” soon.

All in all, this gathering of the Guild was engaging and has made me want to get more involved in this organization. I was able to meet many nice folks in this gentile crowd who offered information, encouragement and opportunities for the future.