Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 116
February 1998

Reports: The collaboration between the Potomac Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers and Cranberry Mills in the making of "Interpreting DaVinci".

Back in August 1994 Ted Snider received an inquiry from Linda Blaser, Senior conservator at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, in response to an article on the mill in the summer 1994 issue of the GBW Newsletter. This was the beginning of a three-year joint project of the Potomac Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers, with Cita Wheeler-Sullivan of The Snails Pace Press and Ted Snider, Proprietor of Cranberry Mills Handmade Papers.

As their inaugural project, the Potomac Chapter (at Cita Wheeler-Sullivan's instigation) decided to hand print, in eighteen point Goudy thirty type (cast by Heritage Printers Inc.) and using sixty point Dutch Initials (cast by the Dale type foundry), fifty copies of "Excerpts From the Humorous Writings of Leonard DaVinci" on Cranberry Mills handmade paper.

Twenty-five copies were to be hand bound by the Potomac Chapter members and 25 copies were to be sold to other interested bookbinders (in sheets). For his collection of works of art made with Cranberry Mills handmade paper, Ted decided to order one copy which Linda Blaser agreed to bind in Medieval Style with chain stitching.

First Linda ordered a Sample Pack of handmade paper from Cranberry Mills but cautioned that they were not interested in pure white papers either for conservation work or for this project. As a reference, she enclosed several small samples of handmade papers, ranging in color from pale beige to ivory, that they use on a regular basis for conservation work at the Folger Library. The quality of these samples was examined by Ted and properties such as Basis Weight (grammage), stiffness, finish, formation, laid wire mark, and shade were noted. The production of the required pale beige color presented a challenge. A problem to be solved.

Cranberry Mills normally only makes natural white handmade paper which is the color resulting from the cotton linters used for the furnish. For small runs its is not practical to make a range of colors in a small scale paper mill because there are just too many color (hues and saturations) to match, and washing up the equipment thoroughly between different color runs is very difficult and time consuming.

In October 1994, Ted attended the annual meeting of the Friends of Dard Hunter in Chillicothe, Ohio, and discussed this challenge with Elaine Koretsky, of The Carriage House Studio and author of "Color for the Hand Papermaker". Elaine suggested that he try using certain pigments and a neutral pH retention aid.

In order to obtain some idea of what pigments might provide the shade required, Ted's wife Betty Ingram Snider got out her water color paints and tried a few of the earth oxides in very pale saturations. One of these colors looked promising and in January 1995 a series of pulp pigmenting trials were set up. Both the amounts of pulp and pigments used were carefully weighed on a gram scale so that the shade could later be reproduced exactly. Using only one hue, a series of papers with a range of saturations was made.

Samples of these papers were submitted to Linda Blaser and she selected shade "PF-9". This code means "Pigmented Folger-9th try"!

On St. Patricks Day 1995, Ted received an order for a trial lot of ten 18" x 24" sheets of smooth handmade paper in the "PF-9" shade. This was made and shipped and passed the printing trials at Cita Wheeler-Sullivan's Snail Pace Press.

Finally, in June an order for 500 sheets of 22" x 30", 90 lbs per ream, Laid, Watermarked, Smooth, Internally Sized, Archival Handmade Paper made using 100% pH buffered Cotton Linters in the PF-9 shade was received, via Linda Blaser, from the Potomac Chapter of GBW.

After further consultation about pigmenting techniques with his hand papermaking and paper artist colleague Wendy Cain (a "neighbor" who lives about 30 miles away in Newburgh, Ontario), Ted started to make the first pigmented paper for the PF-9 order on August 10, 1995.

After a couple of runs, Ted found that twenty-four 22" x 30" sheets per "post" could best be handled in his large 30 ton press. This post of wet sheets and felts stacked up on the bottom press board weighed about 200 lbs (91 kg) and had to be slid into the press by hand! After half a dozen such runs Ted's arms no longer ached at night!

In order to maintain strict quality control and color matching between pulping-beating runs for each of the twelve such runs made, the pulp and pigments were carefully weighed out and the AKD internal size and the retention aid were measured volumetrically.

The first shipment of 100 PF-9 sheets was sent to Linda on September 18, 1995. In order to ensure that there would be no shipping damage to the paper, it was packed flat, wrapped in heavy kraft paper, then centered and fastened at the corners with packing tape to a bottom board of triple wall corrugated board trimmed to 26" x 34". A similar top board was then fastened at the corners to the bottom board with the paper parcel sandwiched in between, and the whole package was rewrapped with heavy kraft paper and labelled "FRAGILE". Parcel post was used and no shipping damage was reported!

In January 1996 Ted underwent a Pacemaker operation and took a few weeks off to recover in the south which slowed down production for a few weeks!

Cita completed her painstaking printing in April 1996 and, after twenty-four " PF-9" papermaking runs and six shipments, the order was finally completed and the last package of sixty sheets arrived in Washington on May 8, just in time to meet their deadlines for adding the end papers, and distribution to the bookbinders.

From then on it was the Potomac Chapter bookbinders who got busy!

Their efforts culminated in a spectacular exhibit entitled "Interpreting DaVinci" at which 20 of their exquisitely bound volumes were displayed. This was held at the Top of the World Observation Level and Museum located on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, throughout the month of September 1997.

Ted and Betty Snider, who were graciously hosted by Katie and Eric Wagner of Alexandria, Va. for the occasion, were honored guests at the vernissage of this exhibit which was held on the evening of September 13 with some ninety bookbinders and friends present. It was a gala event and a fitting tribute to a wonderfully exciting project. The beautiful exhibit catalog was supported by the GBW. Frank Mowery, Installation Coordinator for the Exhibition, enthusiastically described this labor of love and fittingly thanked all who had been involved.

This exhibit was later shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the Fifth Biannual Pyramid Atlantic Book Fair on November 22 and 23, 1997.

Edward "Ted" H.Snider