Mason Monterey Club Chair, 5 Cushion Buildup

This continues several posts on the preservation of a lovely
Old Wood Mason Monterey Club chair from our client’s family.
To see the excavation, go here.
To view the finish notes, go here.
For the seat buildup, go here.
For the frame upholstery, go here.

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The historic cushions placed onto the newly upholstered frame, above.
Mitchell took notes on any changes he might want to make.

We began with the inside back cushion.

The cushion was carefully excavated, and each layer was inspected and considered for reuse where possible.  Those parts that were able to be reused were cleaned and/or carded.

A new ticking was created, and the new buildup of both historic and new materials executed into a new inside back cushion, ready for its showcover.

The same process was performed for the seat cushion, above, except that a new seat cushion was created to replace the old as the historic springs were quite worn.
In the last image above you can see the new cushion height compared to the old.


Once the cushions were rebuilt, the show cover was upholstered.

The showcover is a richly embroidered landscape of critter activities!
Mitchell cut the cushion upholstery to make sure that in each cushion,
all the critters and flowers were represented.

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The boxings and small edging was made of the same leather that upholstered the frame, and the underside of the cushion was also leather, so the chair has the possibility of being seen in three ways, below.

The chair is now ready for
another 75 years of love!

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Mason Monterey Club Chair, 4 Upholstery

This continues several posts on the preservation of a lovely
Old Wood Mason Monterey Club chair from our client’s family.
To see the excavation, go here.
To view the finish notes, go here.
For the seat buildup, go here.

Progress up to this post is shown below in a slide show.

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In this case, when we talk upholstery we are speaking of upholstering the frame;
a bit later on we will upholster the cushions in the two showcovers,
leather and a fun fabric that George Mason would have enjoyed!

Because this piece is a creation from the American Depression Era,
we chose to use an upholstery form that we coined “traditional-modern” upholstery.
It is the combining and placement of traditional natural fiber stuffings and
lashing techniques, coupled with modern, machine-made, per-fabricated edgerolls.

The leather showcover on the seat was sewn and readied…
I love the pretty hemp cloth used in the center and wish we could get more
but it is discontinued.  Beautiful under-cloths!

Seat buildup using various hairs, organic cotton, coir, and finally the leather.

The inside back, above:
both the seat and the inside back will be covered by cushions.

The outside back, above.

In the second image you can see both the dustcover
and also the outside back showcover fabric is tacked onto the top rail.

Note the leather trim that surrounds the outside back, and the leather strip used as
a trim with decorative nails spaced around the bottom to match the front of the chair,
which can also be seen below along the front edge..

Final step, we flip the chair over and apply the dustcover.
Our dustcovers are special, with a hiding place for valuables or memories.

Next post, we will talk about
restoration of the cushions.

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

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Looking Back at 2020 and Covid Delays

In hindsight, what we did to cope
during the early days of Covid.

We had to think of ways to reuse items that should be disposable…  It was impossible, for instance, to get gloves.  Most places made you register as a medical facility to purchase.

Mitchell washed disposable gloves in alcohol, so instead of tossing we set them in a bucket, added alcohol, swished them clean and set to dry. We had gloves all over a towel on the the floor in the reception area!

We almost ran out of alcohol, which we use in many things, so took to saving it in glass jars.

We FINALLY got gloves and alcohol for the biz… without either there would be no shellacking!

Hard to explain to the dozen clients we had in line!

We use small and large
canning jars in our business — both for mixing shellac and paints. Jars became impossible to find except on Amazon, and they price gouged at $40-70 for a dozen, as opposed to $14-25… Crazy.

Why the shortage?  Lack of people to make jars? We had to go back to charge clients for jars (a first), which made many grumpy!

This was so on many products.

The second issue was having to find products.  We like to purchase from small vendors, but many did not have product.  Having to find items shortened my work day by several hours… Three hours several times a week equaled shortened billable hours for our clients!

We are happy to be catching up and finally making schedules that we hope to keep!  *Shhhh, don’t tempt the scheduling gods*

I am starting to write regular posts and hope that we never see another year like last year!

It was exhausting.
And I gave thanks for having work, and our health.

 

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

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Business Etiquette, 2


It goes without saying that clients should be treated with respect and decency.
We strive for that, and also try to keep on top of updates even though few clients ask for them, because progress on pieces is usually interesting to owners and curators.

This post is building on the first post on Business Etiquette, which you can read here.  We are suggesting Client Etiquette as well:

  1. Be polite… and be generous and calm in your emotional responses.  We expect what we give… Consider that the we are doing the very best we can do and there are conditions out of our control that may have caused your distress.
  2. When we ask for information (like your address) don’t refuse to give us your information.    If you have an issue we can discuss it.  Assume that a business has a reason for their protocol, i.e., we ask for full contact information before engaging our time in estimates and other time consuming dialogues.  If you ask we are happy to tell you why.  We ask for full name, address, phone number, email, if the person contacting us is the owner, and best time to call.  Perhaps you live on the other side of the country and we might recommend another conservator.
  3. Beside pickup and delivery (and estimating these items, we also keep a copy of the estimate form with each item, and that form has all pertinent contact info.  If info is missing, then in the event that something happens to us, you may get an item back when our executor has the time to chase you down.  These protocols were made critical when Covid hit.  We do not sell/share client information.
  4. Ask a business if they prefer text messages before sending it… for our purposes we do not unless we are coordinating an imminent delivery.  We prefer emails because they can easily become part of a client file and we can see images better and track changes much better than doing business on a credit card sized screen.  This has become more important as now there are two dozen ways to contact a person and if I have to chase a client then I am going to charge for the extra effort.
  5. Read emails thoroughly and answer ALL questions, which keeps us from having to delay a proper response because we’ve had to ask for the same info several times… We know everyone is not operating at full capacity as the pandemic stresses everyone, so it is important to slow down and read important communications.  We never send spam so if we write you, it is important to read and answer!
  6. Finally, work with the delays, understanding that delays usually mean in businesses such as ours that we can’t do better than we are doing and that we are also not getting paid if the projects are not completed, meaning we have a vested interest in completion!

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Mason Monterey Club Chair, 3 Buildup

This continues several posts on the preservation of a lovely
Old Wood Mason Monterey Club chair from our client’s family.
To see the excavation, go here.
To view the finish notes, go here.

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We begin the buildup by installing new webbing and springs
to create the Spring Deck
after the finish is fully cured and scuffed to the proper patina.

The spring tie is completed, above.

Mitchell discusses the challenges in the way
the springs were originally laid out
on the small spring deck, and how to work
around the corner blocks, above and below.

Details of the spring ties, below.

Mitchell discusses the finished spring deck, above.

The spring deck is covered with the burlap topper;
the springs are secured to the topper.

Mitchell repaired the original edgeroll, and covered it in
fresh burlap before stitching to the deck, above:
details of decisions about the way the edgeroll interacted with the frame
were partly made by the original upholsterers.


The completed Spring Deck, above.

The back buildup and upholstery occur after the seat deck upholstery.

It is always wonderful to find the original tags to verify the origination of the piece.
It was made by the Mason Mfg. Co. of Los Angeles, California
finished March 1 1935… Style #8/83, Serial #2390…
the cover was #603B, and they said it was 80% cotton (50/50)
and 20% a sisal fiber pad…
They do not mention the hair, of which there was plenty!
Of course we also know it had Spring-filled cushions
but perhaps these were not important for import/export/shipping.
These will be preserved in the envelope crated under the seat.

Next post, we will talk about the back buildup 
and upholstery of the frame.

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Mason Monterey Club Chair, 2 Finish

This continues several posts on the preservation of a lovely
Old Wood Mason Monterey Club chair from our client’s family.
To see the excavation, go here.

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The original Old Wood finish is deteriorated.

If the finish were in good condition and simply distressed,
we would not have tried to preserve it with a topcoat but left it as is;
however, it was crackled (which we  like) and flaking large pieces
around the arm tops and front legs.  It would continue to do so in a
more exacerbated fashion now that it is going to be used again.
We added a slightly pigmented top coat to seal and preserve the original finish.

We cleaned the original finish using a mild soap and water.

The entire finish is
gently scuffed to loosen
bits of oil paint that are already lifted and to
provide a slightly rough texture over which to paint.

We have test boards
from earlier projects, and paint to match is created
from our formulas.
We want a thin glaze to
just seal and protect the original deteriorating finish.


I prefer a larger fine arts brush, in this case 1-inch.  I can access cracks without drips
and in the long run it moves faster than clean up from a big brush.

The inappropriately placed decorative nails and the overreaching second generation upholstery left tattered holes where some previously ripped out, and clean holes
from our excavation of tacks and decorative nails, all needing to be filled.
We used a bit of thick paint to fill on top of the topcoat.

Above, the topcoat in comparison to the original deteriorating finish
before it was fully cured to be scuffed (so slightly shinier than we want it!)

10 days allowed the
oil paint to cure before
we could slightly
dull the finish.

After curing, the entire
chair was scuffed to match
the original patina. This had the added benefit of allowing us to test the adhesion
of the topcoat in holding
original finish in place.

Along the side splats the original finish was quite
shiny, and so we left it as it was in the before images.

Next post, we will talk about
the buildup on the frame.

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Mason Monterey Club Chair, 1 Excavation


This begins several pages on the preservation of a lovely
Old Wood Mason Monterey Club chair that has been in our client’s family.

It has been reupholstered once with elk hides, but the original cushions are intact.
As we uncover the frame, we found the history of the fabrics and covering intact.

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Our chair shown 360-degrees, above.

When we start excavation
we also formally assess
the chair again as we are removing the upholstery, stuffings and buildup.
For instance, there was tacking outside the
upholstery margin, above;
we do not know why.

Webbing and springs
were missing from the seat deck, shown right.
Mitchell removed the outside back fabric, below, and
began the excavation with
the front of the back frame.

As we excavate the back frame, we find both original and newer additions,
and Mitchell can tell which is which.  In the fifth image and below right you see a lumbar support, which was an upholsterer’s attempt to shape the lumbar inappropriately.

A bit of the original fabric was used as a barrier.
Later you will see they also modified the frame to tilt the lumbar.
(Mitchell will repair the modification and return it to the proper original intent.).

The chair is turned on its back.

The burlap and webbing are removed.

The seat is excavated, saving parts to assist with patterns.

Much of the original material is intact under the newer elk hide.
We will save and reuse or save as part of the history of the chair…
and sew the label back into place!

The frame is laid bare,
and final assessments are made.

In the second through seventh images above you can see that the lower back lumbar support was twisted and nailed in a manner that is not original.
This change was created by someone wanting to make the lumbar more
comfortable who did not know how to upholster correctly,
and will be returned to the original position and upholstered correctly.

The Old Wood finish is deteriorating.  If the finish were in good condition and simply distressed, we would not have tried to preserve it with a topcoat, however, it was flaking and would continue to do so in a more exacerbated fashion now that it is going to be used again, so we will top coat the finish to seal and preserve it, next post.

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publish the next installments.

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

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French Walnut Country Buffet, 2, Excavation

FRENCH WALNUT COUNTY BUFFET

Follow along with our interim report for our client’s French Walnut Country Buffet:
Previously, we began with Assessment

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Our “before” images are our reference documents!

EXCAVATION

We removed the doors, and then the top of the buffet.

DOORS OFF

The hinge mechanism is second
generation; we know this because of previous bores, shown right.

We believe the decorative hinge set is likely
19th century.  It is a very cool hinge!

The hinge mounts are bolted
all-thread eye-bolts, above and right.
They are not a matched set,
and are even a bit jerryrigged.
It is likely they the are much
more modern, likely 20th century.

Some hinges show the need
for reparation; all will be
thoroughly inspected for a tune-up.

Doors off, we can see the carcass much better.

The right-facing door has splits and will be repaired.

TOP OFF!


The top is a great example of restoration people not working with the piece!
This beautiful buffet was dovetail, peg and mortice/tenon and paneled construction.
Sometimes these connections loosen after a couple hundred years, and shims of various sorts (and other traditional woodworking methods) solve the problem.
However, the last restoration people decided to drive nails in the top in three places, above.  In doing so they also broke two pegs, which we will replace.

With the top off we could see into the carcass, and easily assess the drawers skids and central structure, above.  Drawer skids are wearing, and worn skids eventually wear the drawer and you get sticky tacking.  Some skids were previously replaced.

I also allows us to assess the corner connections.

The top off, above, we can
also assess the underside.
Two sliding dovetail tenons are part of the mechanism which holds the top in place.

Punky wood and old pest infestations are easily seen.

We will try to extract nails such as the one shown right, and infill with wooden picks.  A cosmetic repair on the top might be a shellac burn-in.

The underside tells the story of the buffet’s long life.

The right-facing sliding dovetail easily releases, which we expect it to do,
with a few gentle taps.  Long ago hide glue was used for additional security.

The left-facing sliding dovetail was stuck, and we would have left it in place if we did
not have to remove it to insert keylocks on the large cracks on that end.
Gently persistent,  Mitchell finally made the wood move, and we uncovered the
reason why: someone had decided to nail it in place!
Thankfully this did not rip the underside of the top but simply bent over.

We knew the top was warped before the excavation, and it is unlikely that we would try to repair the warpage.  Laying the top on a flat table we
were able to run a metal straightedge and show how the top warps differently from one end to the other. If you look carefully at the images shown above and right, you can see the warped reflection curve in the table top!

Next post, we begin to repair the top! (Live when published.)
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Written by Kate Powell, ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.

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French Walnut Country Buffet, 1, Assessment

FRENCH WALNUT COUNTY BUFFET

Our client’s French Walnut Country Buffet was created in the mid to late 17th century.
The finish, likely original, has not been tampered with any modern finish materials…
It has a lovely patina that we will preserve and enhance.

FIRST IN-STUDIO ASSESSMENT

An in-studio assessment begins as we are readying for the excavation.
Every side is photographed; everything we notice is detailed.
Many overall images are taken so that if we open up the buffet and find something unnoticed we can see it in an image from before we disassembled the buffet.

Our “before” images are our reference documents!

Some of the obvious items we assessed in their home.
Everything might not be repaired, and everything is discussed prior to reparation.

We have a relationship with our client
to inform and come to agreement about protocol.

The buffet is built with two interior shelving areas.

Above, the largest, uses the center door and the right-facing door;
the interior has shelving and support issues.
The center door hings will be thoroughly checked once they are off the carcass
for possible compromised areas… this “tune up” is a wise thing to do when a piece
is in the studio because it is better to repair issues when everything is apart.
The right-facing door has compromised hinges, and a split in the frame.
We have the missing escutcheon, thankfully.

The drawers are a great example of damages that may not be repaired at this time, however, during excavation we are certain we will find compromised drawer skids!

The left-facing interior shelving area is the one which has the large opening where the outside panel has slide backwards leaving a huge crack.  We will repair this and examine the hinges for stability when the door is removed.

At some time the interior shelf was removed and a plywood shelf was inserted;
the stanchions were compromised.  This will be repaired.

As stated above, the drawers are a great example of damages
that may not be repaired at this time.

To show all the repairs in this buffet would be monumental;
we will offer a sampling of the many preservation/conservation repairs performed.

Next post, we excavate (disassemble) the carcass.
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Written by Kate Powell, ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.

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