Washington State Flag, 3 NEVER Say “No Problem”

A whopping four decades I’ve been in the business
— even though I am ONLY going on fifty ūüôā —
and gads if this hasn’t taught me a huge lesson.

Never, ever, ever tell a client something is going to be easy.

In replicating the flag, we need to obtain two items:
a good replacement for the gold passementerie, and
the green silk for the flag.
I told our clients, the DAR, in passing that the passementerie might be difficult,
but to find the green silk would be easy-peasy.


Mind you, I said this knowing that we have all of Sunsilks many colors
including several gorgeous greens in that range, a foresty-grass-green.  Viridian.
Plus we have a basket of greens from many other houses, because we match solid colors all the time, and saw at least another dozen of THESE EXACT green silks.

Discontinued or only in nubby dupioni!

We had one good choice but after ordering a test sample found it was out of stock and
not discontinued, per se, but just not going to be reordered.

The fabric industry transformed in the last decade into a fairly unpredictable industry.
We no longer ask clients to choose one fabric, but one-two-three,
because even if we just ordered samples,
the fabric might be gone within a short period of time!
Companies do not have lines that are crayola box colorful; they rely on color trends.
*I’m sick of turquoise and brown, and will be just as sick of the next “it” color trend.
Sick of pastels too!*

So the hunt for the right green silk began.  We started again with our top showrooms,
but instead of asking for a particular sample we asked for a range of solid green silks.
We began working our way into smaller and smaller showrooms and fabric companies.
I sent out the image of the five silks above for the color, and we also described the silks:
Not nubby, not too shiny, not a shot silk, preferably 100% silk, substantial,
a shantung or taffeta, and would look at a dupioni if not too textural.

Some of the choices sent I simply don’t understand —
perhaps they went by the name of a fabric, like Dublin?

So here we are, in the midst of SO many greens, and not one that fit.
I have to admit I was giving up and getting discouraged and tearing hair…
then Mitchell said ONE MORE TIME, and a month later…
We also opened the search up to silk + cotton, or silk + linen.

Three inches of stacked rejects… seven dozen green silks…
Three months of calling and visiting showrooms and
sorting and online looking and begging for one last lookaround…

And finally, we have contenders.
We will run our tests, evaluate (and honestly we have three stragglers coming),
order the rest of the duplicates, and then off to the DAR for final review.

Moral of the story, never say it will be easy!

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

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May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

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Washington State Flag, 2

The historic flag, above hanging on the wall of the Reception Room, a grand ballroom,
is not the flag in its original form, but seen with modifications.
How does that impact the replication process?  The decision has to be made to be authentic or to align with what visitors have seen daily.
We vote for authenticity when possible, and the DAR is in agreement.

Let’s look at examples of what we mean.

Note: Color differences due to varying lighting.

The original flag in its incarnation has been cared for with additions meant to assist in its preservation.¬† For instance, the loops (original, right), and above, were probably not quite sturdy enough for the amount of use the grand flag was given.¬† A velvet header was applied across the top later in it’s life; the loops were sewn onto the top of the velvet header.¬† The header supporting the loops is quite large and not in keeping with the original proportions, but saved the loops.¬† As we cannot open the original flag to see inside, we do not know how the interfacing attached; it may have pulled on the painted silk and contributed to its cracking over time.

We are recommending the flag be returned to its original design,
above, with reinforced loops which will go unnoticed.

What may be most shocking for most people is discovering the flag was originally a deep green, not the khaki color that everyone is used to seeing!  The color we are looking to as original is only seen in small bits under lose trims, above left.
Although it will be a surprise, we believe it should go back to the original green,
especially because that aligns with the information in the
State Flag Senate Resolution (April 1963) and the DAR NSDAR History.
Washington State, like most states, also outlines the proper parameters for flag replication, and these deeper colors are called for in reproductions.

As we make our final decisions there will be more updates —
I leave you with a bit of history in pictures, below, courtesy of the DAR and the Washington State Archives.  (Note the second image is the back of the first.)

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.

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A little girl cuts doll hair and many years later…

They were found in a child’s coffin in an antique store in New Orleans!
They traveled to Oregon; their new owner wanted them treated properly…

The dolls have porcelain heads, arms and legs;
Rhett had a broken leg that was also properly repaired.

Both doll’s clothes needed cleaning, and small rips and
previous poorly executed repairs that needed to be properly sewn.

The dolls were undressed…

Cleaning first.
We were happy when the dark dirt stains lifted from Scarlett’s dress,
particularly, as it was all down her front.

Lace rips, proper closures, hems on pants — all was properly repaired.

We were also particularly happy when her hoop skirt which was twisted into an eight, came back into hoop shape with a bit of TLC… and magic fluids.

We were a bit intimidated by the hair cut on Rhett Butler.
Styling hair is one thing, cleaning hair is one thing, but Rhett had had a baaaaad haircut, and the hair was further filled with an odd hard gloop (highly technical term),
and so we turned to a hair expert, Howard Sutcliffe,
Principal Conservator at River Region Costume and Textile Conservation.
We had heard Howard had a way with puppets and dolls, and sent both dolls off to Howard.¬† He plied his trade and after explaining that Rhett’s hair was
cut badly on three sides, even a near razor cut up the back (see below),
gave Rhett a not-Rhett cut that looks much better than he started.

Notice Scarlett’s has bangs?¬† That too, was the child who played with her many years ago.
He removed what appeared to be bird feces from her hair!

On the back of Rhett’s neck is the following notation:
“Rhett Butler
Clark Gable
by Mary Collier

We could find no Mary Collier that was involved with dolls, but did find a Kitty Collier who was involved with dolls — so until further notice that is who we think created these dolls.

In the lobby, waiting to go home….

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Washington State Flag, 1

W16 1 3 WA DAR FLAG 023My rendering of the Historic Flag, above.
Below, the Historic Flag in the State Reception Room.

w14-9-28-wa-des-historic-flag-00013 We begin the process of replicating the Washington State Flag originally
made by the Washington State chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (hereafter known as the DAR). The flag needs replication so the
original historic flag can be sent into archival storage for preservation and possibly conservation.   DAR members from across the State of Washington raised monies for this and in an age-old tradition, will be gifting the reproduction to their State.

w17-1-wash-dar-orig-flag-17Several parts of replication are in the works.

The silk for the new flag
must be matched from the smallest area of lifted trim, shown right — we cannot simply remove the trim and find a large patch of historic silk which has not faded to the khaki green that many
are used to seeing in the
State Reception Room.

w17-1-wash-dar-orig-flag-34Three types of gold passementerie must be found, shown above:
a looped picot trim;
a woven braid gimp; and,
a knotted tasselled chainette fringe.
It is possible but extremely costly to have them reproduced in small quantities,
however, we will come close.  Searches have begun in upholstery and dress couturier
shops  in the USA and in England, and among military reenactors.

w17-1-wash-dar-orig-flag-28Finally there is the painting of the medallion.

And accurate sketch must be made to scale of the original image.

Panels of silk will be stretched and primed to accept thin layers
of oil paint under the medallion location.

The sketch is transferred onto the silk;
the medallion will be hand-painted in oil by Kate Powell.

After the silk panel is completed, the reproduction banner will be sewn.

Below, the historic flag in our treatment rooms.

w17-1-wash-dar-orig-flag-27MPFC will be posting from time to time as we make interesting progress that can be shared; sign-up for posts if you are interesting in following the progress.

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May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

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Conservation of Mason Monterey Tinoco Bedside Stand

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 10We were to conserve and restore a Mason Monterey side table with the charming, funny and valuable Juan Tinoco horses on the drawer front.  This is a project that included conservation/preservation (cleaning dirt and mold from the paint, and affixing loose paint) and restoration (infill in the exposed white gesso areas.)

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 07 W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 08Unfortunately, the table was abused mightily over the years, having been stored with excessive temperature and humidity changes (meaning outside that which a human being might endure) causing losses from cracked paint (not to be confused with the lovely intentional stable craquelure of the original finish on the drawer front) on both the drawer front and the overall Smokey Maple finish.  Besides the obvious losses (see the bright white of the gesso), many tiny cracks of paint were about to drop.
The side table was covered with losses and lifting paint in the original Smokey Maple
paint on legs, panels, and stretchers.  The table top was warped, lifting on both sides
from the frame; nothing was to be done about the warpage.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 09Further, a child used the front to draw on with crayons, presumably before the paint began lifting and cracking, and this was not removed prior to the extensive paint damage.  Removing what appeared to be crayon before stabilizing the paint is challenging;
I could not guarantee to the client that I would be able to remove the crayon
and would not sacrifice the original painting by Tinoco to do so.
Because of my own love for this furniture it was a bit nerve-wracking.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 01Note: It is easier to see the damage and the painted surfaces from
the side views, or when the images are a bit tilted.

W16 NW MONT SIDE TABLE CLEAN 016 MPFCBefore beginning in earnest, I tested the various types of staining or dirt for movement.

W16 NW MONT SIDE TABLE CLEAN 027 MPFCFinally satisfied that I knew the inherent limitations and choices of the project, I began.
Cleaning is extremely patient and time consuming work.
MOST of the “crayon” was removed, except for a bit of smear that remains
in an extremely damaged area right above the handle.
The paint lifting and chipping was simply too fragile, so the slight residue of
waxy black was left in exchange for possible losses in the painted surface.

A mold found in several crevices and just underneath
the warped top was removed and treated.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 16Clean, it was time to secure the tiny ships of paint to the surface.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 21It took two applications before the lifting was secured.  You can also see the brightness (some is a change in cameras but it also brightened a bit) after the applications.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 25Infill began.¬† Even though we now know the formulas for the various colors (having done many conservation and restorative processes on Monterey, including spectrometer analysis of original Mason paint) each time, the paint must be tweaked to the proper color for the actual piece.¬† Paint ages, for one thing, but also, just like dye lots, these mixes were done in batches and batches can be a bit different.¬† Also, contrary to some popular books on the market about Mason’s paint, there were also several distinct shades of reds and greens and blues used from the beginning.

For infill to be properly executed (meaning not obvious to the naked eye)
it is a 3-4 step process over a month’s time.¬† I chose a darker image, above, because it is better to see the brights of the infill before the final topcoat is applied.

Below, one of the horses before infill began and after all treatment but the topcoat was applied.  Note the bright spots.  It is costly to infill such a damaged piece but the topcoat takes care of the teeny bits of exposed white gesso.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 32The final topcoat applied, above.

The Smokey Maple finish was deteriorated and lifting as well, though much of the extensive damage was complete. The goal was to clean and stabilize, then add enough paint to protect and renew without making it “new” — and so, unlike removal of a white stain in a shellacked table top, we left the cleaned stains (no oily residues) intact and over-coated them with the Smokey Maple paint.¬† Two coats were applied to the top;
light coats allow variation and allow the piece to appear as if it were well-loved
rather than neglected and restored.¬† Understand, MPFC’s restorative applications were driven by preservation and aesthetic necessities, not to fool the eye.¬† Therefore, a knowledgeable collector and/or conservator would know the piece was restored.

It is nice to have various pieces of Mason Monterey in the studio to compare when restoring: see the excellent match to well preserved Smokey Maple finish of a
well-loved bedside table in the dark and bright images below.

Below, the piece is curing before we reduced the sheen.

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 33The leather handle should be replaced, but the client did not approve
payment for that treatment, which, while small, is costly in time.
The leather is beyond what might be a normal level of rot.
However, we treated it to slow the further degradation, and then over-coated it with Smokey Maple, as leather is often painted with oil paint!

W16 MONTEREY TINOCO HORSE TABLE MPFC 38The final result, a stable semi-matte finish that will also dull quite a bit as it cures.
We are instructing the client that the piece is gently usable,
though surface coatings are quite durable.
The top is completely stable, however, the front of the drawer should be treated
as a painting, and care should be taken with this lovely artifact.

Slide show below.

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Posted in antiques, art, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, mold, painted furniture, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

One Man’s Trash

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on No Facilities:
Cherished Workshop Stool As I look around my workshop, I see hundreds of objects that are important to me. Some are favorite tools. Some are jigs and fixtures that I‚Äôve made to make woodworking easier.…

Gallery | 2 Comments

Creating Random Pattern in a Painted Finish

W16 5 5 HW SOFA B4 006

The sofa as it came to us. I am skipping all the work Mitchell has performed doing proper conservation work, reparation of the frame, and going to the finish, because people think this type of finish is the easiest one. WRONG. Give me a good shellacking to do any day!

This is a European Pear wood, Louis XVI, French Empire Sofa from the mid-18th century.
The image above is the way it appeared when it arrived in our studio.

W16 5 5 HW SOFA B4 059 The frame was well-loved by generations though abuses by upholsterers and
improper repairs and tackings eroded and exposed substrates which required expert treatment, including returning the bent frame to its proper proportion,
bent frame shown above.  The sofa was to be returned to historical accuracy in terms
of the upholstery buildup, with the frame properly repaired, but we worked with the existing finish.  Since the original painted finish was no longer intact,
we did not concern ourselves with historical accuracy.

By far one of the most difficult jobs I have is creating the look of an old randomly worn painted finish.  On this sofa, I was to recreate the look of two previous paint jobs which had been subject to chemical strippers decades before, while still upholstered.  We assume the restorer realized his/her mistake, and left the clabbered, shriveled, accreeted paint shedding from the reliefs and carving everywhere on the decorative frame, shown above.
The original painted finish was still evident beneath the scabbish surface though it had been thinned by stripping and scrapping.  The efficacy of the existing finish was long gone
by the time we received the sofa to conserve, however, the exposed pear wood
had developed a beautiful patina where it was exposed.

W16 7 HW SOFA PAINT ARTICLE 18The colors I had to match — or not — above. Not the gilding, and yes, there were bits of that left here and there. In this original finish detail, you can see, from the base up: the peach colored pear wood, a very old grey-green paint, a newer peachy-warm-cream paint, and a white-tinged-with-olive- green paint.¬† We even found traces of the stripped painted gilded finish underneath.¬† Our job was to recreate the paint job above and below,
which literally was falling off the sofa with any handling.

A random pattern.

A random pattern is not creating the look of paint worn — paint tends to wear off quite predictably, along edges and where it might bump the wall, or where heels kick it.¬† But a random pattern where the paint was supposed to have fallen off… argh!

How does one recreate what happens
naturally over time?

How do you recreate a faded paint
with many layers of color? 

DIYers are taught it is a wipe job with a crinkled rag, but it is much more complicated.
I had to cover up areas where someone had used pieces of mahogany to fill missing frame moldings, including areas where previous reparations were created using puttys,
match or blend at least four distinct colors,
and also allow for the oxidized pear wood to  shine through.
Because it was upholstered incorrectly previously, parts once hidden were visible again.

I was handed the frame repaired and ready for proper upholstery.  I began by mixing colors, testing layers on both a second piece of wood and on inconspicuous parts
of the frame then matching them against the same images you see here.
In the end there were three colors that made up the finish on the frame.

W16 7 HW SOFA PAINT ARTICLE 09To cover up the mahogany, a pear-wood toned paint was mixed from Titanium White, Transparent Earth Red, and from time to time (because the wood changed color on the frame) a bit of Indian Yellow.  This was also used to cover previous metal repairs which stayed on the frame.  It is hard to
match a teeny sliver of paint!  The paint
job was done by hand and with a scratchy old #4 round paintbrush.

The overcoat of “white” was really Olive Green and Titanium White.
This, too, was applied by hand.  To achieve RANDOM BALANCE (what a concept)
I looked at the areas which needed the most coverage and
then moved to balance that coverage randomly on the rest of the frame.

W16 7 22 HW SOFA FINISH WAX ON 010Finally, a slightly yellow wax with beeswax/carnauba/mineral spirits was created to coat the paint after it was fully cured, and to influence the final color of the sofa, above.
The wax was left to partially cure, then scrubbed off with an acrylic  toothbrush,
then rubbed again to achieve a buffed appearance (bottom final images).


I keep notes on every client’s finish in case I need to reproduce the finish.

Last glance — and a glimpse of the upholstery coming.

W16 7 23 HW SOFA FINISH WAX OFF 015 W16 7 23 HW SOFA FINISH WAX OFF 011©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

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