Hong Kong Archives Society Workshop

2019-02-11
I was invited by the Hong Kong Archives Society to conduct a workshop at the Living Medical Heritage in the Community Carnival. We chose to do a four flap enclosure as a protection for books, documents and objects. This workshop was catered toward a preservation crowd so I took a different approach to teaching than my other workshops.
I really enjoyed working with Kitty and Jeannie from Hong Kong Archives Society. They were both really helpful, open and knowledgable. It was really interesting to see them documenting the workshop with photographing as a part of archiving the event. With archives they have a practice of documenting everything and it is something that I need to learn to do better, to take more photos of my workshops. I get really caught up with teaching that I forget to document.
We had a group of students that are all interested in preservation but with varying degrees of knowledge. It is always a challenge to know what level and how to manage a class with a range of students. In other workshops I have had students that are there to just pass time so it's harder to really gauge their interest and really teach them fundamentals about what I do.
My approach was different to my previous workshops as we had more time and I also wanted to teach them skills rather than really to just make the enclosure. I went into details about materials, grain direction, how to use the tools, how to glue and cut properly. There are small things that really make a difference. The students asked me how to cut board without fraying the edges of the board, it seems like a simple question but it takes practice for them to cut properly. When cutting board you have to make sure that your cutting knife is perpendicular to the board and not have it at an angle.
I also went into details to teach them about how to think about the work they are doing. It takes a lot of planning and trials to actually get a box to fit well. For the class I made a box for a particular book and set the size to fit this book. Even when you go to a workshop like this and you manage to make a boxy need to learn about how it applies to another book, document or object. So my main goal was for them to be able to learn to cut precisely and also to be able to understand how to think about how much space to leave for the hinges.
The photo above shows the boards on the covering backcloth and how it should be laid out. Some students struggled with which board goes in which position and also not remembering which way the grain runs for the board and the cloth. These might seem like minor issues, but then I have seen books and enclosures that do not fit and also warp because the person making it did not take these things into account.
In the end we didn't manage to finish making the enclosures and I felt really bad that the time was not better managed. It's hard to manage a class with people who have different experiences with working with their hands and it's always a challenge to know how much help to give each individual student and still have them be able to learn. I hope that even though the students didn't manage to finish their enclosures that they managed to learn about how to think about the way they work and be able to apply it to what they do.
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