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The conservation problems of Molly Blake!

This week I thought I would bring you something a little different from the ordinary.

As regular readers of this blog may know I have been (for nearly two years now, in between other things) working my way through and digitising for preservation purposes copies of our WVS/WRVS Bulletin. I have now got to the 1970s and the issues from these years are dominated by the beautiful illustrations of Molly Blake.

Molly worked for WRVS for many years in the property department at our offices in Old Park Lane, London, but also provided illustrations for posters, books, and not infrequently on her memos.

Not only do we have the published versions of her illustrations, but also some of the originals. One might naturally assume that the originals will be better than the printed versions, but this as you will see is not the case.

Like many artists and illustrators (myself included, I was an archaeological illustrator in a former life) we cheat a lot of the time. Molly’s drawings, usually in pen and ink on drawing film or paper provide an interesting example of the ravages of time, on both ink and glue. Changes to drawings, like in the example below, often involved drawing a new character and then literally pasting it with glue into the scene. The completed drawing could them be copied by the printer and it would look like a seamless illustration done all in one.

Unfortunately in the 40 odd years since these illustrations were done the glue has yellowed, ruining the illusion and in some cases the characters are falling out of their scenes as the glue has become brittle and ineffective. The other issue is bleeding of the ink, as you can see below, where the illustrations have got damp, not being stored in the best conditions for much of their life.

 

Printed copy from the WRVS Magazine

Original version, with bleeding ink

We are doing our best to preserve these precious illustrations for the future and properly packaged and stored hopefully the ink won't bleed anymore, the glue though is another problem!

I hope you liked this brief look at Molly’s work, and hopefully I can bring you some more in the future.

All illustrations copyright © Molly Blake.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Tuesday, 18 August 2015.

Labels: Washing up , WRVS, Molly Blake, Heritage Bulletin Blog, Disabled, Conservation, Illustations, Drawings, WRVS Bulletin