Tradesman Hours as of 2017!

Thanks to Jill's incredible record keeping, and a goal I set for myself when I decided to leave academia to be a full time conservator and bookbinder, I’ve reached over 10,000 hours at the bench! 

As of 2017 year end I’ve put in 13,282:30 of conservation and binding tradesman hours. I’m thrilled to have met my goal of over 10,000 tradesman hours, and I’m excited to continue to put in the time, creativity, experience, and hard work at the bench as I continue my work in conservation and binding. 

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Looking back over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work on amazing rare and collectible books.  When I was earning my Masters and learning about conservation the first collectible rare book I ever worked on was a Johnson’s Dictionary, and since those early days of getting my feet wet I’ve gone on to work on ephemera from the 13th Century, several first edition King James Bibles, a Latin New Testament from 1450, almost 100 first edition Book of Mormons, a Gutenberg leaf, a beautiful Book of Hours from the 12th-13th Century, a first edition Common Sense, countless early Mormon history books, a Shakespeare 4th Folio, and just about everything in between.

My wife and I have learned so much over the years and we have met wonderful collectors and book sellers too, most of whom we call our friends now rather than clients.  We’re excited to continue our journey in rare books, and enjoy sharing pieces of our journey with you here and on social media.

Below are some fun images of what 13,282:30 on the bench work looks like.  

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97th First Edition Book of Mormon, 1830, Restored.

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As of 2017 this will be the 97th First Edition Book of Mormon I’ve restored so far in my career as a conservationist. It’s a fun statistic, and I dare say I’ve worked on more early LDS books, in addition to 1830s, than the LDS Church Archives have; all thanks to amazing private collectors! 

 

In the Kitchen at Eidolon: Soft Caramels

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Growing up, every year around Christmas my mom and Aunt June baked and made all sorts of delicious cookies and candies. They would make up pretty festive plates with a variety of their treats and take them around to their neighbors and friends. Now that I’ve moved away I still continue to do this tradition, as do they. 

A few of my Facebook friends asked for our caramel candy recipe after I posted a photo of my recent batch, and it’s so much easier to write a blog when it comes to recipes, so here you are. Enjoy! 

First prep your 9X13 pan for cooling by brushing melted butter all over. It’s best to have as much as possible prepared beforehand when making candy. 

Ingredients: One 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk, one cup of butter, one and a half cup of corn syrup, and two cups of white granulated sugar.  

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a large heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until boiling. Next add a candy thermometer and stir until mixture reaches soft ball stage 235°-240°. Pour into a buttered 9X13 pan. Let cool and then cut into squares, and wrap each piece into pre-cut wax paper squares.  

Note: Patience is key when making candy; sugar continues to get hot, so grab a stool and keep stiring until your candy reaches the proper temperature; do not turn up the heat in an effort to speed up the process; you’ll end up burning the candy.  

I like my caramel a bit harder than soft ball consistency, so I cook my caramel closer to hard ball temps  (250° - 265°). 

 

Crossing the Bench: Geneva Bible, 1568.

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We received this old Bible in bad shape, as you can see from the picture above, but we went to work saving it, and it will live to see  several more centuries to come!  

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We removed the old tattered cover and removed a lot of dirt, old rubber cement, and insect cocoons. There had been previous restoration—the kind that actually causes damage—hence the rubber cement. There was also rediculous oversewing, so we took that out too.  

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While cleaning up the spine we found fun very old parchment manuscript waste that was used to line a few signatures. 

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The spine needed serious reshaping, so after rounding and backing, we left the book securely wrapped in the backing press with extra wrapping to ensure the spine would dry back in its proper shape.  

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We embroidered new end-bands using linen thread, then cosmetically aged the endbands to look as if they’ve been on the book for a couple hundred years. 

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We finished the project with a full leather binding, complete with a Renaissance tooling design.  

Crossing the Bench: Mid-Nineteenth Century Collectible Mormon Books.

We've been enjoying our new bindery space a lot, working our hands to the bone lately, and we're loving every minute of it! The weather here in Texas has cooled down too, so we and our animals have an extra spring in our step. 

We've recently worked on a bunch of mid-19th Century collectible Mormon books; mostly rebackings, leather restoration, a facsimile page here and there, and a historical rebind.  

 

1855 New Testament (association copy). 

1855 New Testament (association copy). 

1857 Compendium (association copy).  

1857 Compendium (association copy).  

1876 D&C (association copy).  

1876 D&C (association copy).  

1876 D&C (historical rebind).  

1876 D&C (historical rebind).  

1885 Book of Mormon. 

1885 Book of Mormon. 

1852 Book of Mormon.  

1852 Book of Mormon.