The move: If moving house is supposed to be as traumatic as going through a divorce, then moving your home and a book conservation studio at the same time is certainly a challenge. In July, Emily and I decided to relocate to the Malvern Hills: after eight enjoyable years in Oxford our plan to move west finally came to fruition. We have moved to the lovely little market town of Ledbury, and the new conservation studio is now in Hanley Swan (just outside of Malvern) in Worcestershire… commuting over the hills on my bike is certainly helping me to keep fit.
When I started Green’s Books in May 2016 I got the opportunity to make use of a friend’s office just outside of Oxford. This was an ideal space, both for my conservation work but also for teaching, so I was keen to get something similar. After quite a while searching, and a few false starts, we were fortunate to stumble upon a studio near Malvern which was very similar to the one in Oxford. The new studio is a good size with enough bench space for four students; it’s north facing which means there is no direct sunlight to contend with; and it’s set within a small group of offices on a farm – I now have a printer as a neighbour which may come in handy!
The move was indeed hard work but with some good planning and lots of help, it wasn’t too stressful. The biggest challenge was moving the large pieces of equipment. My collection of lead type was heavy, but moving the board-chopper was probably the most difficult job. I removed all the moving parts but the bed was still incredibly heavy; however, once upended and lifted on to a custom-made trolley we were able to roll it onto the van without any unwelcome excitement. Another challenge was moving my beautiful large work bench. It was commissioned for the Bodleian Library when under the stewardship of Chris Clarkson and was the work bench of Robert Minte until the revamp of the Bodleian’s conservation department at the New Weston Library. The bench provides me with a lovely big clean space to work on but is rather big at 2.2 meters long. When we came to move it, it wouldn’t fit through the door… but, because the bench had been constructed with pegged mortice and tenon joints (no glue), it was possible to dismantle it and then rebuild it in the studio without too much bother.
Arranging the new space: After the move, arranging the new space was quite enjoyable. The space was almost ready to move straight into but the walls did need a fresh coat of paint and I had to remove the carpet tiles. As the floor underneath was power-floated concrete, I decided to go for grey concrete floor paint. This gave me a durable surface appropriate for a workshop. I spent many hours considering the layout of the space. The studio needs to function well for my book conservation work but also as a teaching space. Thoughtful storage was certainly high on the list; I had some help from Bob (my father-in-law) who constructed some roof storage for rolls of cloth and leather. Good storage helps to free up floor space and give the studio a spacious feeling. Moving also prompts you to do those little jobs that have perhaps been overlooked in the past – I finally got around to fastening my presses to their stand!
Open Day: There are a few little jobs remaining but the studio is now up and running and an enjoyable place to work. I have already had students in and am looking forward to the first workshop in September. To celebrate and show of the new studio, I’m having an open day on Saturday 18th August, 2:00pm to 5:00pm, so do come down and visit if you can.
Arthur Green, 15 August, 2018