Repairing Antique Books with Caroline Corder

By Nina Guzman


The Book Repair Clinic begins today and lasts through April 19th! Stop by the circulation desk to drop off your worn out law books and have them repaired for FREE! We will email you once your books are finished and ready for pick up. While it might sound like magic, books are repaired by dedicated workers who have experience in art and book binding. While the Book Repair event is only a week long, these artisans work year round on books in our archives that are hundreds of years old. We talked to Caroline Corder, Book Repair Wizard extraordinaire, about the process of repairing an antique book:

  • Step 1: Coat leather in leather conditioner, use a soft bristled brush. Leave for 1-2 days to allow for full absorption.
  • Step 2: Apply patches using mulberry or Thai Kozo rice paper and watered down PVA glue (about 1:1). This will reinforce the leather in weak spots and also allow for reattachment (of spine and covers).
  • Step 3: Paint the patches. Match the paint to the book to get the colors as close as possible. Here I used burnt umber, raw umber, and raw sienna. It is also good to have cadmium red, yellow and cyan on brand. I use Windsor and Newton because I like the vibrancy and purity of color but any brand will work.
  • Step 4: Add detail if necessary using a gold paint pen.
  • Step 5: The final step involves cellugel, a leather consolidant that was only recently invented (about 50 years). It is a mixture of cellugel powder and 90% alcohol and is the last step in leather book repairs – it preserves the patches, paint and conditioning.

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