If you are collecting 19th century publishers' bindings, such as those designed by Alice C. Morse, you will want to protect them by using book cradles and supports. Safe book handling procecedures are neccessary for the long life of books. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library, I have developed several styles of custom book supports and book weights that assist the reader and ensure that books can be safely read and displayed. The supports I make are reticulated, quilted blankets made from fabric and batting. I often use Ultrasuede, as it is handsome, washable, has non-slip qualities and requires less bulky seams. Linen, cotton or synthetic fabrics could also be used. If you are interested in having these made for your collection, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 212-650-2890.
NEW Book Cushions
|Photo by Sophia Kramer|
These custom, refillable, washable Ultrasuede book cushions were recently designed for a large display of rare books.
Style 1: Book blankets for commercial book supports
The version seen here is made to fit the many sizes and types of acrylic book cradles that are available from commercial library and exhibition display vendors. Acrylic or Plexiglas book cradles are hard and books tend to slip around on them, making them vulnerable to damage. My book blankets hold the books firmly in place and support the book at any opening. Seen here is the book blanket used on upright and flat book cradles. In the lower photograph, you can see that I also made a corresponding mat to protect the book and the table surface.
|Custom blanket made to fit an upright Plexiglas cradle. It could also be used directly on the table to protect and support the book. If the book has metal binding parts, the blanket will also protect the table.|
Click on this link to see angled cradles as seen above, in different sizes from Gaylord. I can make book blankets to fit these or any other commercial cradle. Other vendors also sell book cradles, such as University Products.
|This blanket was made to fit a commercial Plexiglas book cradle and can also be used directly on a table.|
Style 2: Long book blankets for use the reading table or conservation bench
I use the long version of the book blanket both singly and in pairs. I make them in several size sets to correspond to standard book sizes - octavo, quarto and folio. The format of this set is quite long to allow the blankets to be rolled or folded in zig-zag fashion. Two blankets can be used for especially large books. In this way, one can support the book in many ways and also cushion and protect the work surface. I use these quite a bit to support rigid bindings when I am performing hinge and paper repairs on the interior of books. They allow me to have my hands free to do my work and the blankets can be easily adapted to fit the book using only one hand.
|This is a very long blanket. One or both sides of it can be rolled or folded to support the book at any opening.|
|This one is similar to the one above, but it is being folded and used with a large foam wedge.|
Book weights are often useful for books that don't open well on their own. I make several types of book weights. I use both long snake weights and round weights these for holding books open at the reading table, at the scanner and during conservation. I often make them to match the book blankets and have also personalized leather versions with gold stamping.
I'm working on some new two-sided "book blankies" made from repurposed quilts. They are about 12" tall and 42" wide. Single ones work for small books, but a pair is perfect for any type of book support need. They have a small profile and can be easily stored away when not in use. They are also washable. This is a great solution for catalogers or anyone working in a small space. You'll have your hands free to do your work, especially if you use these together with a snake weight. I'm working on prototypes for some I can sell at reasonable prices. Meanwhile, custom orders are welcome.
I have two sets of the plaid/polka dot blankets shown here for sale now, one is 12" high, the other is 13" high. Each 2-blanket set is $55. (including shipping). They were repurposed from a new child's quilt. All cotton. Email me if you are interested.
|Both blankets are being used together to support this book.|
|Both blankets are being used to fill the space and support the front board.|
|Here, the blanket is folded in a zig-zag fashion to support the front of a thin book.|
|Same as above, but without the book.|
- Alloy steel chain (GRADE 80), 12 inches in length
- ½ inch polyester batting
- Heavy thread
- Sewing machine
- Cut batting three times the width of the chain, as it will fold over twice. Cut it 3”-4” longer than the chain.
- Sew chain links onto batting with linen thread.
- Start sewing the chain a little to the right of center, as when you sew the batting gets pulled to the right, if you are right-handed.
- Wrap the batting around the chain, adding more batting if you would like the weight more padded.
- Sew the batting together with a whip stitch. Turn over the ends and sew.
- Make a sleeve out of Hollitex. Hollitex is smooth and will allow the snake to slide easily into the Ultrasuede cover. It will also keep the weight in better condition.
- The Hollitex sleeve will end up being about about 2 ¾” wide and will have a standard 5/16” seam allowance. Cut the Hollitex a few inches longer than your snake. Once the chain snake in the batting is inside the Hollitex sleeve, sew the end shut.
- You can put a security target on the Hollitex cover. This will not be seen when the snake is in the Ultrasuede cover.
- Measure and sew an Ultrasuede cover for your chain weight. The weight can be totally enclosed; or, as in the cover above, sew in a slot so the snake can be removed and the cover can be cleaned. There is no need to sew turned seams with Ultrasuede, just sew the two pieces together on the outside.