Research Project – Microdome imaging

In part of my MA research at West Dean College, I studied the sewing structures of historical books by means of comparing visual assessments and Reflectance Transformation Imaging with the Microdome, a digitisation tool created by the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium).

Surveys of the sewing structures of 24 books, forming the case study, were carried out to assess visually the threads. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) was then applied to the books using a Microdome.

The Microdome not only provides high resolution images of the artefacts studied, but also allows 3D imaging. To achieve such a result, 220 pictures of the item are taken, each picture showing the object lighten by a LED source at a different angle. The combination of all these pictures creates a “living” image, allowing the researcher to move the lights on the picture. Therefore, new features of the object can be revealed, such as its surface characteristics. A comparison between the visual assessments and RTI imaging were made to define the advantages of using one or another technique for assessing books.

Part of my MA thesis also presented the results obtained in the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage, KIKIRPA, in Brussels, where samples of sewing threads from the case study were analysed with stereomicroscopy, reagents, micro Raman and SEM.

More information about the RICH project is available at: and

All the following images are copyright of RICH.KU Leuven.

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