Opening the Unopened

Two opened pages of The Order of Chivalry (1893). Black letterpress printing on off white handmade paper. Decorated capitals can be seen in the text.

Have you ever bought a book and discovered that some of the pages are still connected to each other? Typically, this will happen along the top edge of four pages and many years ago, books were sold as such so that people knew it was a new book and not second hand.

Scribbled edits and marginal doodles

Recently, we digitized a series of notes and edited typescripts for Langrishe, Go Down, a novel by Aidan Higgins, first published in 1966 and later adapted for BBC television in 1978 by Harold Pinter. As I worked through scanning the many iterations of the story, I was struck by what we’ve lost to the digital era of writing and editing: insight into the author’s personality.

Troubleshooting and Workarounds

When we are working with fragile, irreplaceable material, it’s critical that the object is properly supported during image capture. Sometimes, this means I have to jury-rig something suitable and every time one of my configurations works it’s deeply satisfying.

When Size Matters

While the majority of the projects we work on can be accommodated on our equipment, some items are decidedly oversized and size does matter. How we approach them depends a little on the object itself but usually it means we need to scan the item in sections and digitally merge the files

Pandemic Pivot – from Digitization to Transcription

Our department had a meeting on Monday March 16th and we agreed that while we couldn’t take the equipment to our homes, we could do transcription work, which is typically assigned to work study students, to get us through. We identified three projects right away that could be done and I happily claimed a book from the Frank and Cecelia Sylvester Fonds (collection) in the UVic Archives that we had digitized way back in 2008 as part of the Victoria’s Early History collection.

Spending Time With The Bard

There are few things that get a book or theatre nerd’s heart rate up faster than the words “Shakespeare Folio” so imagine my delight when I was told I’d be scanning three of them. The volumes are not owned by our institution, and there was a fair bit of behind the scenes negotiations to get them here. Once they were in the building it was our single highest priority to get them done.

At the Intersection of Art and Sport

Image of the Turtle Cup on the turntable and a scanned version of the cup on the monitor at the 3D scanstation

When you think of sports championships, there is always the goal of winning the big trophy – Grey Cup, Stanley Cup, Rose Bowl, World Cup, and so on. When the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) needed a trophy, they turned to artist Carey Newman to carve one. He created the Turtle Island Trophy. While the trophy is a beautiful artwork in and of itself, it is not the most durable object to hoist overhead on the ice, so the artist and the NAHC approached us to 3D scan the trophy and provide a file to use to create a copy.

Little Man in a Hat

Having seen what he could do with the scans we did of his textured paintings, artist Shawn Shepherd came back to us late last summer with another request. He had a little man in a hat – kind of a businessman/salaryman/everyman that he wanted to manipulate into larger size sculptures. It had been the top of a trophy and my first question was, “Is it shiny?”

A new dimension in art

This fall, our department received a request to collaborate with artist Shawn Shepherd using the 3D scanner. He wanted to learn more about the potential for capturing and potentially duplicating or remixing his dimensional artworks. The texture in the painting consisted of both straight-edge peaks and valleys in the centre, a deep “moat,” and more fluid “stucco” texture around the outer edge. I was skeptical about the capabilities of the scanner. To my delight, we were able to get a fairly good scan in the end.

Curling up with History

How does one scan a 21-foot scroll from the 15th century? Carefully, in short sections which are then digitally stitched together to form a whole representation of the original. In total there were 13 scans of the front of the scroll and one to capture the text on the reverse at the foot of the scroll (seen in the photo above). The original scroll is comprised of “9 membranes [of parchment] attached by glue” and they vary slightly in size.