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September 2009

Celebrating Paper - 25th Anniversary Symposium

by Ed Vermue, Special Collections and Preservation Librarian, Oberlin College Library

The Ohio Preservation Council celebrated its 25th anniversary by sponsoring a symposium on September 17, 2009 called Celebrating Paper. Special guests included several founding members of OPC. More than one hundred preservationists, conservators, and special collections librarians gathered at the Msgr. Joseph Jessing Conference Center, Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio to hear renowned speakers and panel discussions. A brief history of OPC was reviewed.

The keynote speaker was Nicolas Basbanes entertained the attendees with stories from his upcoming book on the history, technology, and culture of paper, which will take readers to some surprising places. The book is expected to come out in 2011 and promises to present a more interesting and affirming perspective paper then those who deal in its preservation typically get to read.

The first panel of the day was dedicated to the Book and Paper Arts, and included presentations from Tom Balbo of the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory in Cleveland, Timothy Geiger, proprietor of the Aureole Press and Chair of the English Department at the University of Toledo, and Gabrielle Fox, a Cincinnati book binder and creator of fine bindings and artist books. The intention of the panel was to present a view of the contemporary book and paper arts scene in Ohio, highlighting the ways in which this is a very vital and growing art movement and not a thing of the past. Tim Geiger led the panel with a description of the ways he uses his letterpress studio in teaching to give students a hands-on experience of letterpress printing and publishing. Gabrielle Fox showed the attendees a slide show of her bindings and discussed her work as an artist and collection curator. Tom Balbo presented images of his evolving operation at the Morgan and discussed future plans, and ended by showing a short documentary on a recent workshop/exhibit called the “Combat Paper Project.” All three presenters were different, interesting, well prepared, and did a fabulous job raising the excitement level in the room. They were also each exhibiting their work in the exhibit space and made themselves available for further conversation and networking.

Another panel on Historic Collections featured Geoffrey D. Smith, Rare Book Librarian at The Ohio State University, Andrea Kline, co-owner of The Bookseller, Inc. in Akron, Ohio, and Diane F. Britton of the University of Toledo

Jamye Jamison, Associate Paper Conservator at the Intermuseum Conservation Association in Cleveland, Ohio spoke about the “Preservation of Paper-Based Materials.” Her illustrated lecture covered topics including: understanding the properties and needs of paper objects; preventing damage through appropriate care, handling, and storage; best practices in conservation-grade matting and framing; and the importance of regular collection monitoring.

A Demonstration of the Fine Art of Turkish Watercolor Marbling was given by Ann Alaia Woods, of Aimia Art Works in Columbus, Ohio

Dard Hunter III discussed his famous grandfather in his presentation Collecting Historical Craft into a Modern World: The Life and Work of Dard Hunter. The legacy continues at Dard Hunter Studios at Mountain House in Chillicothe, Ohio.

William Joseph “Dard” Hunter was born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1883. From an early age he was immersed with the techniques of printing at his father’s newspaper and often set lines of type by hand. When his family moved to Chillicothe, Ohio to operate another newspaper, Dard was hired to be the staff artist.

By June of 1904, he was designing stained glass windows in the Roycroft Inn and title pages for Hubbard’s press. His designs helped distinguish the Roycroft product line from that of other American Arts & Crafts.

In 1911, he saw an exhibit of hand papermaking tools in a London museum. He was inspired to learn more about this centuries-old art, and began experimenting with the techniques of making paper by hand. In 1912, Dard bought an historical house in Marlborough, New York. It was his goal to change the fact that no handmade paper was being made in America. He became very adept with papermaking and watermarking techniques, and orders came in faster than they could be filled. He worked on a type font during the winter months when paper making had to stop because the water wheel could not turn. It took him four years to cut 63 punches and cast them by hand. Dard produced the world’s first one-man book by making the paper and using the typeface he designed, cut and cast himself.

In 1919 the Hunter family moved back to Chillicothe and purchased the Mountain House. Hunter authored 20 books about papermaking over the next 46 years. Eight of these books were printed by hand. Dard Hunter died in 1966 at the age of 82. The Mountain House is the location of Dard Hunter Studios, a business that is dedicated to raising the awareness of the contributions made by Dard Hunter throughout his lifetime.

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Preservation Issues is published by the Ohio Preservation Council for the benefit of Ohio’s cultural institutions, including libraries, archives and historical societies. Its purpose is to provide information concerning preservation issues that affect all cultural institutions. Please contact the Ohio Preservation Council chair or vice chair for more information.