Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Vivak Exhibition Cradles

Soon, Spencer Library will unveil its latest exhibition, on the work of John Gould and his atelier. Conservation Services staff support exhibition design by helping the curators present the items in their best light. For bound volumes this work often involves the construction of a supportive cradle.

Many library conservation labs construct cradles and supports from Vivak, a transparent, cold-bendable, PETG plastic. Unlike the more traditional Plexiglas, Vivak can be cut on our board shear (no scoring required).

Cutting Vivak to make exhibit cradle.

Cutting a piece of Vivak on the board shear.

Once the sheet is cut, the locations for bending are transferred from a paper template to the Vivak sheet. Vivak comes with a protective plastic film that is left in place until the final installation to prevent scratching of the soft plastic.

Transferring paper template marks to the Vivak.

Transferring marks from a paper template to the Vivak.

The plastic can be bent by hand, but we use a sheet metal bender to make the process easier. Plexiglas requires heat to bend, so we are happy to avoid that step and the accompanying fumes that result. Making cradles with Vivak is much quicker and less toxic.

Using sheet metal bender to bend Vivak for cradle.

Bending the plastic using a sheet metal bender


Completed Vivak book cradle.

A finished Vivak cradle.

Vivak is not as sturdy as the Plexiglas we used to use, but if stored properly cradles can be reused for multiple exhibits.

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Tags: , , , ,

3 Responses to “Vivak Exhibition Cradles”

Hi Whitney, Could you let me know the thickness of the Vivak? We have a supply but it is a bit thick for our board shear. Thanks!

Hi Ramona. We are using 0.060 thickness, which seems to cut easily on the board shear. The down side is that the cradles aren’t overly supportive for large materials.

Whitney Baker, Head of Conservation Services

In response to various questions: Our sheet metal bender (also called a “sheet metal brake”) is called the “Bendito” and was ordered from McMaster-Carr. It has a 24″ bending width. There’s an optional floor stand. We haven’t purchased it but it might be a good idea for libraries with extensive exhibition programs.

Whitney Baker, Head of Conservation Services

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *