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Minor Mending's & the Marbled Arts - Jenna Bossert

by Bridget Voltz on 2023-06-06T09:03:00-04:00 | 0 Comments

Minor Mendings & the Marbled Arts

By Jenna Bossert, WCU Special Collections 


Have you ever marveled at older books that feature intricate marbled designs on their boards or endpapers? Do you own a minimally torn or damaged book or document and have you wondered how to repair it? Do you enjoy learning about bookish things and want a behind the scenes view of preservation and conservation work?  

As summer is quieter on campus, our University Libraries employees are meeting up for a variety of professional development opportunities on Wednesdays. The most recent opportunity we had was a workshop led by Ramon Townsend that focused on book and document repair and paper marbling.  

The founder of and bookbinder at Colonial Bindery in Exton, as well as the bookbinder at the Historic Sugartown in Malvern, PA, Ramon Townsend is an experienced bookbinder of 40+ years, who prioritizes functionality and finesse in his book and document repairs. The first half of the workshop focused on object preservation, with Ramon demonstrating multiple methods of fixing book tears (document repair tape, wheat paste, & heat set), repairing loose pages and text blocks, reattaching book boards, and removing and strengthening book spines.  

Ramon stressed the importance of practice and recognizing that after repairs, while the book or document has been altered slightly, it is now more functional and can be used again. He recommended using a worn or torn book personally owned book before doing more complex conservation treatments. Videos of several of these processes can be found on Ramon’s YouTube Channel linked here.

The second half of his workshop focused on paper marbling techniques. While the first half of the workshop was demonstration only, Ramon led us through the history of paper marbling and then instructed us as we attempted our hand at the long-established craft that started in Turkey. University Libraries employees made their own marbled papers using marbling tools and techniques that Ramon taught us, including making marbling patterns, including nonpareils, peacock, French curl angel’s wing, chevron, double comb, and more! 

A fun morning was had by all, and everyone walked away with a souvenir (1-2 marbled papers we did ourselves), plus the knowledge of how to better preserve our collections for years to come. 

To learn more about Ramon Townsend, book preservation and conservation, and more, please watch “Meet Historic Sugartown’s Bookbinder: A Conversation with Ramon Townsend” 

and visit the following resources: 


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