Project Profile: Two-Sided Bible Page

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This customer arrived bearing a specially-built box, with specific instructions for how to open it written thereon. Inside the box was a plastic bag; inside that was a folder; inside THAT was:

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A hand-copied, decorated Bible page from the 15th century!  This piece presented a few challenges: first, it was inscribed on sheepskin.  Second, it was inscribed on both sides, and the customer wanted to be able to show either side.

One particular challenge with sheepskin is that it must NEVER touch water, otherwise it will warp and curl (or to put it another way, sheepskin wants to try and return to the shape of the sheep!).  This means that we could not use our usual water-based adhesives to hold it in place.

The customer selected a silkscreen-texture top mat for each side of the piece, and a different solid-color bottom mat for each side.  She then selected an ornate silver/gold moulding with a somewhat distressed finish to complement the historic period of the piece.  Finally she selected Museum Glass to provide both optimal clarity and protection from UV light (The photos above were taken with the glass in place; note that there are NO reflections whatsoever!).

We used Mylar photo corners to hold the page in place on one of the mats (Mylar is approved by the Library of Congress for direct contact with historical materials).  We then adhered the two double mats back-to-back with a paper spacer in between.  This reduces the pressure on the edges of the page and allows it freedom to expand and contract.  We then built two frames back-to-back, and used spacers between the mats and the glass to fill out the thickness of the doubled rabbet.  The frames are held together with decorative metal plates on the bottom and sides.

As for hanging hardware: while we normally place a hanging wire on the back of a frame, this frame really has neither a front nor a back.  Instead we used a chain attached to D-rings at the tops of the side rails of the frames.  All of the hardware was painted with a dark hammer-textured paint to provide a proper Renaissance feel to the piece.