How to Make a “Squeeze”

September 28, 2012
Harvard students making a squeeze. Photo: Erin Loeb.

Kathleen Coleman, James Loeb Professor of the Classics, recently took a group of students from her Latin Epigraphy class on a field trip to the picnic table behind the Sackler Museum to take part in a demonstration on how to make a “squeeze.” A squeeze is the process of using layers of wet paper to capture a negative impression of a carved inscription. Unlike a photograph, a squeeze can replicate the depth of carved letters, revealing details that may be difficult to see on a flat surface.

Each student took a turn at “squeezing” a plaque commemorating the dedication of Warburg Hall by repeatedly beating wet newsprint with a scrubbing brush until it was forced into every crevice of the plaque’s inscription. The paper then spent the weekend drying out in the Registrar’s Office. When Professor Coleman’s students returned the following week, they found a delicate mirror image of the inscription (“Warburg Hall named in honor of Felix M. Warburg, 1871–1937”) in raised letters on the stiffened paper.

See photos of Professor Coleman’s squeeze demonstration on Flickr.