Washington State Flag, 12: Prepping Flag Blanks


We left off with my final finished draft on silk, above.

I wished I’d take a photo of the room with the green silk along one wall —
Beautiful color to work in for the next two months of painting!

I went from my intimate small studio with many references around,
to the expansive one above, an open space with lots of light.
The original George Washington State Flag at one end is now my main reference.

Know that the subtle shadings of colors from one blank to the next is due
to the artificial versus natural light in the room when photographed.


Three new templates were created for the three blanks,
because over the next few weeks they will be traced upon repeatedly.

Those tracings were pinned into place and a white chalk transfer was created,
labeled #1-#3.  Only one, the best one, will be chosen for the flag.
The other two are insurance in case paints are dripped or a brush is dropped.

Painting upright like this under these conditions is not easy.
Painters slop paint, drip paint, and most of the time it is correctable.
But not if it drips on this silk!
Further protocol is washing my hands two dozen times a day,
because if I touch my skin I might get oils on the silk.
All paints and liquids are stored across the room or below the spill line,
so that if they get knocked they hit the floor, not the silk.
Our blue ®Sterilite storage bins are doing double duty now as lifts to level the blanks
at the right height for comfort painting, and as a place to set a reference.


The transfers at this stage were difficult to trace,
because the darker green line of the PVA was hard to see through the layers.
In a few areas the edges of the transfer was too close to the PVA edge, shown below.
If any oils came into contact with the silk, a stain of oil will spread onto the silk —
again, think grease stains as the paint oils separated.


See the wonky edges on panel #3, directly above?

With a textile vacuum we removed both chalky droppings from the surface of the image so that they did not drop onto the silk itself, and also removed as much of the chalk outline at the edges that were problematic, in image one, above.  Using PVA, I balanced the primed areas so that edge was not in danger of oil paint coming into contact with silk, below.


The first and trickiest area was to establish the outer edge with the
first layer of warm grey paint using the faster drying medium.
On the rest of the medallion, if I fudge I can correct it, but not on the border.
Three days later I added the second layer, and the difference is shown above.


Painting upright like this under these stressful conditions is not easy. Painters slop paint, drip paint, and most of the time it is correctable, but not if it drips on this silk!
Further protocol: I washed my hands two dozen times a day, because if I touch my skin (brush a hair out of my eyes, scratch my face) I might get body oils on the silk.
All paints and liquids are stored across the room or below the spill line,
the bottom of the blank, so that if they get knocked over they hit the floor, not the silk.

Eyes added, I simply had to, and George begins to come alive!
All three panels are a bit different in their sketches.

To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.

©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

Posted in antiques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, painted objects, process, reproduction, textiles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Washington State Flag 11, Third Drafts, Silk

We left off with my first finished drafts
on silk, above.
  I learned a lot… and now I had to move into true oil painting,
taking advantage of the slow drying
of the oil paints to blend, and having
a greater understanding of the problems
of painting on silk. It was time for me
to blend and finish these test pieces.

Again, I started with the circle.

I also worked out the lettering + border.

The white circle took two coats of the Titanium Zinc White to cover.
Titanium Zinc was chosen as it is a very bright white to mimic a lead white,
but is not as brittle as Zinc White.  I traced my lettering and tried our gold paints,  comparing both against the original.  Neither the Titanium White border
nor Pale or Rich Gold from the tube was just right.

It is hardest to duplicate a finish that has aged, whether shellac or paint.
Years of environmental factors created the color we perceive, not pigments.
Also, many pigments from years past are now illegal, and so hard to obtain,
though conservators can purchase them for reparation on damaged paintings.
This reproduction did not qualify for mixing the older pigments,
such as a lead white, for both cost reasons and also toxicity.
And, our pigments are against the original color of the silk,
emerald green, not the faded silk of the original flags current state.

I mixed Titanium White going into a warm cream by adding Titanium Buff,
but that was not the direction with pigments;
then finally mixed a warm grey that was right, and batched a small tube of that formula.

The golds available needed to be bright, warm, and crisp. Mixing the two “golds” was a start — the rich gold was creamy and the pale gold, a bronze, bright. I added a bit of ocher to further warm and darken. This was batch mixed, placed into a tube, and sealed.

I completed two more test runs on silk, one without the border, above,
where I worked more on finishing his face…
and one with the border, above left and below.  On the second is face is left rough.


My studio would transform in order to create the large pieces for the flag, next post!

All paints are Gamblin Oil Paints, made in Portland Oregon.

To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.

©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

Posted in conservation techniques | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

JBC: White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part II

Our White Patriotic Jumper had repairs to be made on the tail,
the tail-to-leg connection, all four legs, and his belly.
When these repairs were completed, we could treat surface repairs and finish.
The White Patriotic Jumper is a sample treatment,
so our client, Restore Oregon, can see the process from start to finish!

We continue our documentation of the tail from
JBC: White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part I.

Please excuse the grainy grey images in the woodworking rooms; the yellowed
lighting creates an odd discoloration and makes Mitchell’s hands look black!

Note that a lot of explanations are under the images themselves!


TAIL TO KNEE

The tail to knee gathered water, which caused dry rot.
It means that at some point in Patriotic Jumper’s history,
he was covered with quite a lot of water, and not dried off.  Regularly.
*If there are carousel owners reading this, beware!*
Again, this meant more work than anticipated, and the rot was not detected under the thick paint.  The rot had to be removed and the wood replaced for a strong connection.

The two areas to be repaired were the tail tip, the knee itself.
After these were repaired, the tail could be reunited with our horse!

TAIL TIP

The repair took several steps.  The first was to remove all the rot, and the rot went surprisingly deep — more than one inch into the tail structure.
It appeared that over time some workers had tried to repair the tip
without looking at the cause of the problem, more common than you’d imagine.
Glues were mixed with putties and the crumbling rot, seen in the first few images above.

We located what is likely the original screw hole, going through the tail into the knee.

It took patience to remove all the rot.

The next step was to insert fresh wood of like species into the rotted area; all the while maintaining a viable structural unit which would be able to withstand the rigors of opposing tension and flex which will be asserted over the next many decades of service.

A mortise was created and a precisely corresponding wooden insert fashioned to set into the mortise.  In image two, virgin wood is revealed and iron oxide is discovered, proving that the original tail tip was anchored to the knee through the convenience of a screw.

The mortise floor is planed and chiseled to present vertical to the spline,
images three through six.  Hide glue with gap-filling PVA is applied,
and the block is inserted, clamped and allowed to cure, images seven through nine.

The tip itself was diminished and needed augmentation to attach properly.
Before the second block was attached, the attached black was trimmed
to accept the second block, and the block itself was fashioned,
then glued as was protocol in the step above, and left to cure.

After curing, the tip was grossly carved to ease the final carving and fitting.
Adding physical structure to the tail tip in order to satisfy the loss of tip structure allowed us to gain proper purchase in connecting to the knee.

ROMANCE KNEE REPARATION

The knee also had dry rot and structural losses to the surface substrate
which connected to the tail structure.
The rot inside the knee had to be removed and replaced.
A large section of loss which extended into the knee was adjacent to the primary connecting points of the leg’s thigh to knee scarf joint.
The structural integrity of the joint had been undermined with several previous repairs.  The integrity of the joint was of utmost concern for us when devising a plan by which we could recreate a reliably strong connection to accept the repaired tail to knee join.

Two sets of repairs were done concurrently to strengthen the knee.

The first was to work with the dry rot within the knee, which was excavated.
A mortise was set into the knee to accept the fresh piece of tulip-poplar.

During the mortise excavation we were able to conclude, with confidence,
that the tail was originally secured by screw to the knee.  The discovery of iron oxide deposits well into the depth of the knee matched those we saw in the tail tip, above.

A block was crafted to insert into the mortise, then shaped to historic surfaces.
After the glue cured securing the block within the mortise the piece was shaped to historic levels, insuring a proper foundation by which the tail can be re-secured to the knee.

Small losses from prior repair failures were filled,
including two crafted splines to shim the knee joint and prevent it from flexing, above.  Veneer shims of tulip poplar were made to fill loose gaps.

The knee was ready to accept the tail!
Soon to be posted, the final reparation of the
White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part III.

Follow us for updates on the happenings at the stable!
We will continue to take you behind the scenes!  Currently we have:
Jantzen Beach Carousel Moving Day!
The Jantzen Beach Stable is Full!
Good Monday Morning!
and many others!
To keep abreast of our post, follow us here or
on Instagram (@mpfconservation) or on Facebook !

 

Written by Kate Powell  ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.

Posted in antiques, art, conservation techniques, Interim Report, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JBC: White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part I


Our White Patriotic Jumper had repairs to be made on the tail,
the tail-to-leg connection, all four legs, and his belly.
When these repairs were completed, we could treat surface repairs and finish.

The White Patriotic Jumper is a sample treatment,
so our client, Restore Oregon,
can see the process from start to finish!

We began our documentation with the tail.
MPFC’s goal, relative to the tail, was to restore the tail into working condition
as well as reestablish the tail’s joinery components (as Parker originally had intended, wherever possible) to allow for future  repairs without the aid of
technical woodworking skills by future maintenance staff.
A guideline for these repairs will be created by MPFC for the edification and guidance
of future JBC  maintenance staff to ease the efforts of maintenance and
holistic preservation of the historic carousel horse’s various components.

Please excuse the grainy grey images in the woodworking rooms;
the yellowed lighting creates an odd discoloration.

Note that a lot of explanations are under the images themselves!


The tail had three distinct repairs to be made before it could be reassembled:
tail to rump, a tail break midway in the tail,
and the tail-to-leg connection.  We will cover these in three parts.
The repairs were performed separately over time.
We began with the Tail-To-Rump connection, and outline the tail
tenon and mortise repairs (Part I, below).  The tail break itself is Part II.
Finally, the Tail-to-Knee connection, Part III.  We documented them separately
until we came to fitting the tail back together again, during the painting posts!

The tail tenon is not a separate dowel inserted into the carved tail proper and into the mortise of the body of the horse, but a tenon which has been formed out of the tail stock. This is important because this allows us to move directly toward restoration
of the components rather than taking risky steps toward an attempt to remove doweling from the tail proper. One less risky procedure!

TAIL MORTISE AND TENON

EXCAVATION

First we removed the tail tenon from the rump mortise.

The removal of the tail presented difficulties during the extraction process
because of the “toe-nailing” of bisecting finish nails which penetrated the walls of the mortise, acting as sharp splines which grazed the walls and splintered
the rump’s tulip poplar wood substrate.

The screw through both mortise and tail tenon, shown in images 3-6 above,
was the easiest part of the excavation.  The hidden nails, later repairs, caused many issues.
As the tail was gently pulled, images 7-10, above, hidden nails locked in!  The tail tenon was gradually coaxed from the mortise using steady backward pressure.
When the tail released, three large nails were left — and all these previous reparations
were repaired so the tail is strong again, last two images, above.

TAIL TENON

Excavation involved removing the nails from the tenon.
Spiky nail-spines created tension but did little in actually holding the tail fast in its joinery.  These nails later repairs, not original.

All the holes in the tail mortise were filled in order for the repairs to move forward.
The tenon must be as strong as possible before it is placed back into the mortise with as small as possible gap margin between the tenon surface and the mortise wall, so that adhesion between the two surfaces is not based solely upon the strength of the glues,
but also from adjoining component tension.

To this end:

  Holes were drilled clean, and hardwood dowels were placed through the holes for snug fits.  We used hide glue to secure the dowels.
Hide glue can be loosened with warm water, direct heat, or vinegar, if necessary, allowing for the reversibility of work performed possible by future restoration efforts.

These are left to cure overnight, and trimmed to historic levels.
The tenon was sized into the mortise (concurrently repaired, shown next).
The mortise, due to degradation and damaging repairs,
needed to be augmented by doweling, splines and veneers, then
rebored before inserting the repaired tail tenon back into the mortise.

TAIL MORTICE

The same nails that went through the tail tenon entered the tail mortise, leaving holes.
These were filled in a similar manner as the tenon.  Nail holes were drilled clean of splintering debris, and hardwood dowels were inserted through the holes,
glued with hide glue, and left to cure before trimming.
Debris was thoroughly cleaned from the inside mortise walls.
This is shown in the first two images above.

The mortise was also repaired through the use of a larger dowel system.
Unfortunately, the mortise walls were crumbling.
The mortise was drilled cleanly, a bit larger than the crumbling walls, and fitted with hardwood dowels using hide glue amended with gap filling agents, above.


Af
ter curing, the restored tail tenon was measured and a fresh mortise was
drilled in the proper angle and size to accept the repaired tenon, above, while taking into account the orbit and trajectory of what was left of the original mortise path.

Because multiple sections of the mortise wall were asymmetrical and trumpet shaped, its depth and trajectory needed amending.  This process was a several-part endeavor which encompassed at least eight individual steps which often overlapped the previous step.

The original screw hole was repaired: drilled clean, filled with a dowel,
and readied for the screw to be replaced again. Later in this process the fresh plug was redrilled to countersink a large stainless steel screw which bisected the tenon (as was originally designed) and anchored into the rump block below the tail tenon.


Above, the
restored tail mortise, before and after!

Next, 
White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part II!

Follow us for updates on the happenings at the stable!
We will continue to take you behind the scenes!  Currently we have:
Jantzen Beach Carousel Moving Day!
The Jantzen Beach Stable is Full!
Good Monday Morning!
and many others!
To keep abreast of our post, follow us here or
on Instagram (@mpfconservation) or on Facebook !

 

Written by Kate Powell  ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.

Posted in antiques, art, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Visit with the Doc, or Carousel Horse Assessment

As promised, an explanation of our assessment process,
and of course, a horse is so much more interesting than a building part!

Terri is a beloved horse from the Jantzen Beach Carousel; locals have fond memories of her!

Terri is also extremely damaged.

We examined Terri with an eye to the necessary repairs to make her stable for many generations of riding when the carousel is finally rebuilt in its new location.

We look at everything:
legs, tail, neck, cantle, pole mount,
and the decorative gemstones.


Terri is set up in our “stable” so that we can walk all around her and
examine both her Romance and non-Romance sides:
the “Romance” side is the side that you see when standing and watching the carousel,
and in the USA carousels move counter-clockwise.
Romance sides are the highly detailed sides, with gems and many decorations!


Terri is not carved from a solid block;
she is created from several blocks joined with hide glue.
This makes her weigh less which is a good thing when she must be moved.


Her teeth and face are dirty; she had gum in her nose.
*Poor Teri, makes it kinda hard to smell the roses!
We took care of that problem, pronto!*
Someone drew all over her teeth with a ball point pen.
Her ear is chipped.  Her eyes and other gems have been covered with dark varnish.

These things are easier to repair.

BUT SHE ALSO HAS CRACKS
IN HER TORSO, NECK AND MANE!

In past she was chemically stripped during a restoration;
chemical stripping of an older object is almost never recommended.
The chemical strip loosened the glue from the joins, and caused warping.
it opened up the large crack shown top left, and a crack around the cantle.

Wood is protected when it is finished, whether paint or shellac or oil finishes;
an open crack allows moisture to accumulate in the cracks and
eventually they open more, causing more moisture…
Finally, the moisture seeps deep into the wood and fissures and causes rot.
A vicious cycle.  The cracks must be repaired for the life of Terri.


Her extended front leg was repaired long ago using unknown putties;
it is likely it cracked from little kids standing on it.
You can see the corrugated nail if you look closely, something laymen don’t see often.
It looks like a squiggle below the break in the center.
*The blue tape allows us to remember the many areas we need to address.*
Unfortunately, most of the the repairs were not proper woodworking solutions;
we need to remove putties to make sure the repair is strong underneath.

Unfortunately, Terri’s hind end is terribly broken.
Both legs, knees, shin and one thigh, all cracked and/or broken.
Her tail is broken in two places,
both at the rump connection and at the knee connection.
These are catastrophic repairs; if not attended to they will break completely off.

Take heed regarding what we are about to caution.
One improper repair is maybe not a big problem.
But imagine many many knee or tail breaks, all improperly repaired.
Each poor repair compounds the next.
Finally someone comes along and squirts epoxy or carpenters glue
into the break just to hold it together for another couple months
and then when it breaks, it rips wood fibers,
making it impossible to knit back together — a shattered broken leg!
This is what we are dealing with in many of the horses.
Many years of improper repairs, one on top of another,
making them more costly to repair
because they are compound fractures full of hidden nails and screws!
Moral of the story, do the job properly the first time…
And ditch the modern glues!

Terri was assessed, but is not in line to be our sample horse for treatment.
We had to choose one horse which had the best sampling of damages for treatment.
Follow us to get the latest installation of posts on the JBC!

Next, we show the restoration of one sample horse:
White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part I!

   

Written by Kate Powell  ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use without permission.

Posted in antiques, art, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jantzen Beach Carousel Assessment Process


As we’ve probably said, Restore Oregon hired us to assess the current status
of the decorative parts of the Jantzen Beach Carousel.
(Another firm is estimating the status of the mechanical and housing parts.)


The carousel has been in storage since 2012, and before installing it in a new location there is work to be done, ranging from paint touch-ups to repairing broken parts.
Decorative parts include 80+ horses, two chariots, 48 lower housing panels,
and multiples of the following: rounding boards, cresting boards, cherub shields, and inner panels.  It would be nearly impossible to assess every part, so
two of each part was chosen randomly plus a dozen horses, to be assessed in depth.
Mitchell and Kate each assessed every part separately then compared notes.
Kate wrote their findings in a report, Mitchell proofed the report,
written on the nature of the damages and options for reparation,
and an estimate was created based on those random parts
to allow Restore Oregon to explore funding for the carousel.

This was a massive undertaking!

As an architect Kate programmed massive moves and designed and planned hundreds
of square feet for companies like Twentieth Century Fox, Wells Fargo, and Arco
— and she swears those were easier to output than this report!
So much to remember and catch and then transmit to our clients.


We will share the process of ONE assessment with you next posting,
so you can understand what goes into determining the problems with each part.

Above, Medium Pinto Stargazer with Cat
is ready for the doctor to give him his physical!
The cradle allows us to gently turn him as needed.

Below, a sampling of the items we have assessed…
Breaks and rips and peeling paint,
buried nails, and missing screws and a few bewildered spiders!

 

Written by Kate Powell  ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.

Posted in antiques, architecture, art, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Mystery of the Metal Patches


We’ve inherited a box of old badly damaged pony legs with
butted joinery which have been clad in copper and tin sheeting.
The tacking lines along the leading edges of the butt joinery are so badly damaged
by the tacking one must speculate about the advantage of such a repair
as it exacerbated wood substrate issues and nearly destroyed the legs.
We are reminded of the folk adage, “If the disease does not kill you, the medicine will!”

On the other hand, we do not know
what prompted repair people from long ago
to make these unusual repairs instead of
creating proper woodworking repairs.

A mystery!

We originally thought these broken legs were a thing
of the past, an anomaly, until we saw a teeny bright
bit of copper on our Buckskin Lily Hunter, right.
Once we had the eyes to see the shape of these
repairs under paint, we saw they were everywhere!

What is the origin of the cladding?
Was it placed on the horses at the time they were created as a way to create additional strength and smooth contours around a potentially weak joint of seam?
Was the cladding an addition to areas with breaks and erosion used as a stop gap measure by maintenance workers who did not have woodworking skills?
Was there simply no dollars within their budget to perform proper repairs?

Clues


1)  The creation of the horses were executed by skilled woodworkers.
The incorporation of complex joints into the knees and thighs speak to an understanding of how wood performs and what is necessary in creating a viably engineered structure.
We surmise no skilled crafts-person would incorporate such cladding as the tiny tacks would undermine the original structure, create a surface not in keeping with authentic carving and lead to finish/paint problems throughout the horse’s life.


2) Not all members are clad.  Some horses have cladding on several joints, like the Turquoise Parker Pony shown above.  Other horses have none at all.
Some horses have strangely asymmetrical cuts of sheeting with
an over-layering of thin straps over the top, shown above, left.
This is consistent with a “fix.”  This is clearly not part of the original engineering.

A number of horses have copper/tin wrapped around the tail stumps,
such as our Dappled Grey Water Horse, above.
The cladding extends up onto the rump like a patch,
then cuts in an irregular pattern around the tail proper.
Again, not all horses have tail repairs with this cladding,
nor is it applied in exactly the same way from horse to horse.

Conclusion

Sometime during their long life when maintenance was looking for quick fixes which would not require expensive skilled labor repairs, they did this.  Maybe it was a common repair with carousel people as we’ve heard it mentioned by others.

The cladding is contributing to the viability of specific joints,
but the downside to these patches is fracturing paint and
the unknown atrophy of surface wood beneath.
We suspect rot under the patching, but cannot tell the extent.
Dealing with rot means expert woodworking treatments.
Also, the tacking lines may have undermined the wood substrate
requiring additional repairs. How does one create a treatment plan
without having knowledge of the actual damage?

Facts From The Forge Master

An interesting bit our master blacksmith shared about certain copper sheet cladding:   Depending upon its thickness and blend of alloys; if the metal is subjected to high heat, then immersed in cold water, it will become pliable for a period of time!

In the case of the carousel horses, we surmise a pattern was taken of the area which was failing, strategically cut out with metal shears, then put beneath a torch or dropped into a forge until it was red hot.

Once the cladding reached a certain temperature it was immediately immersed
into cold water until it could be manipulated without burning hands.
The temporary molecular shift allowed the repair person to mold it around
the damaged member, much like aluminum foil, occasionally lightly tapping
it with a mallet to create necessary folds and contours.
In the end there was just enough time to penetrate the edges of the metal with a succession of box nails in order to assure the sharp edges were securely affixed into the wood.

After it cooled, they built the area up with a plaster mixture and painted
over the entire piece, essentially creating an exoskeleton or a barely visible
cast over the degraded element.  So we see very knobby knees and bulked tails!

Follow us for updates on the happenings at the stable!
We will continue to take you behind the scenes!
To keep abreast of our post, follow us here or
on Instagram (@mpfconservation) or on Facebook !

 

Written by Kate Powell  ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.

Posted in antiques, conservation techniques, Interim Report, painted furniture, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments