by Michele Brown
In addition to books and manuscripts, Cornell has a rich collection of unusual artifacts. Recently, a sprig of cypress plucked by Lafayette from George Washington’s grave came into the Conservation Lab. It was housed in an archival envelope that caused damage whenever the sprig was removed for viewing.
I decided to attach the sprig to buffered 4-ply mat board using a flexible strip of polyester threaded through slits on the board. The polyester is held in place on the back of the board with double-sided tape. Another piece of polyester was attached to the bottom of the board and serves as a tab for pulling the sprig out of its enclosure. A second piece of mat board was glued (pva) to the back of the board holding the sprig in order to secure these attachments.
The mounted twig fits into a sink mat constructed from mat board and Volara polyethylene foam (from University Products). Utilizing a case binding structure, the board holding the sink mat was hinged to a board with a 4 mil polyester film window. I used Canapetta cloth from Talas for the spine piece.
You are able to view the sprig through the window, or you can open the window for closer examination. As mentioned above, you may also remove the sprig and its backing board.
Fragments of the sprig found in the envelope were encapsulated, and along with a letter explaining the provenance of the sprig, also stored in the box. This whole structure might be overdone, but I’m pretty sure the sprig is now safe from further damage.