Textile Conservation: Victorian Tea Cosy, 3, Beading


Continuing from our earlier post on searching for beads…

The cosy has two sides, arbitrarily labeled “A” and “B”
for reporting and discussion sake in the report.

Some of the areas of the tea cosy have disintegrating linen warp and weft,
or loosening warp and weft, shown above left, where is becomes unstable and unruly.  Reweaving is difficult due to the beading interspersed around the edges;
there are bare holes in very small areas.  Further, there are beads which are loose but have not fallen off.  I chose to back the entire cosy with an organic
undyed unbleached woven hemp.  I can then bead and stabilize into the hemp below.

Another issue are what I call “burned” metal beads, shown in details above and right.  I in the right image above, lower right quadrant of the image you can see gold, pewter, hematite and crusty rusty looking beads; these are heat and water/steam damaged beads.  See the darkened red yarns, right?  This is not dirt stain but the residue of the heat damaged beads.  I would love to remove some of these beads, but the most damaged of them are welded to the warp and weft.

I have seen this exact melted or burned beads in other Victorian pieces.
One of the first beaded pieces I treated in Portland had several areas so badly
“burned” that it ripped the warp and weft in two… to reweave I had to cut out some of the melted beads to remove.  They no longer looked like beads but melted metal!
I rewove the ripped missing areas in order to have a good base to reweave new beads.

My goals for the tea cosy are to surmise the the design in areas
for which I have no historical record for — which means by looking
at the two sides I do not have a whole motif.
I will infill with appropriate appearing beads and to stabilize loose beads.
Not every bead will be stabilized — some are not loose — and that would be
a very expensive endeavor and this cosy will not be used as it once was,
but treated carefully like the Victorian lady she is!

When the two sides have been beaded and stabilized,
I will clean both pieces (I cannot do this now with so many beads loose),
infill yarns as necessary, create the quilted interior and ruched ruffle,
and reconstruct the tea cosy with the new quilted interior and silk ruched ruffle.


Step one: tack the
tea cosy onto the hemp backing.

I built a frame and taped the backing into place, then loosely tacked in six places.
I will start beading in the center and move outward evenly, in order to ensure
I do not have areas of gap or bunching in the hemp under the beading.


Beading begins.

The first day there were experiments with the various beads,
so it was slow going, and more than once I removed my beading.
I don’t know if there was a bead that was lost, but every so often I find
an oddly placed clear bead in the center of white,
leading me to think that the edges of the petals were not all white.


Also, in areas such as this petal, where the warp and weave below is not stable
but loose and uneven, I take the time to understand the bead weave as I go.
A second or third beading needle is used to align and study the weave
and hold beads in place as I stabilize around them.

Different sized beads.

I am encountering several areas with different sized beads,
both on the edges of motifs and sometimes in the center.
I don’t know if the cosy was repaired once before, but nothing tipped
my mind in that direction as we excavated the various pieces.
I may never know.

For now, I am labeling them when I note them “original bead” and “larger bead”.
I am sure the bulk of the original beads were the smaller size, between a 9/0 and 10/0;
the second size looks to be an 11/0.  My new beads are all in that size range.

Examples of stabilization as I bead.

Most of the time I am
picking up one bead at a time to stabilize by re-threading them to the hemp below, above. In the last image note I am setting a row in place as I stabilize a very loose beads one at a time.  Occasionally an entire area, such as the tulip-shaped flower right, needs stabilization and alignment. All the beads are loose but not falling off.  I might pick up several beads in a row,
then come back and tack the thread down in between.

Above, the area completed
on the first day. I can’t bead for more than an hour at
a time
, and when I get up
from focusing on beads
for that long it is a little
like being tipsy as my
mind and eye adjusts!
I added one new bead to
the design, a milky bead
that picks up and refracts
light at the edges.  A string
of new white beads, though well matched, was simply
too much flat white.
By adding the milky white bead it softens the edges.

I take notes throughout, above, including how long it takes me to bead areas,
because it gives me more information with which to do estimates in future.

This posting serves as a treatment report, to keep with the other documents of the tes cosy in her collection.  Our client will get copies of this and maybe my illegible notes!
A vial of the new beads will also be sent to my client for any possible repairs in future.

Will post as I progress!

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JBC: White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Knees and Thighs


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!

A PROCESS STATEMENT
REGARDING ALL KNEE JOINTS

We will show images at the bottom,
after the written description which applies to all knee joints.

All four knee joints on the Patriotic Jumper are crafted as face butted, scarf joints.
The knee to thigh components are secured with two large wooden pins bisecting the joint’s walls. Hide glue originally kept the join surfaces tights and minimized flex.

Prior improper repairs (which we surmise were intended as temporary) over
Patriotic Jumper’s entire life, ultimately caused greater damage.
The worst were multiple nailings which bisected the joints,
probably in hopes of stabilizing the ever increasing loosening at the knees.

The joinery’s join lines have shrunk along their shoulder butts
(where the knee portion fits along the thigh line). In some cases
degradation of paint allowed moisture to erode and shrink the joinery element.

At some point, an attempt to camouflage the widening gaps between the joinery shoulders was performed by troweling composite into the voids.  The introduction of these materials were purely cosmetic and did nothing to rectify the structural problems. In fact, the introduction of some of these composites interacted with previous fills, especially those filling materials which contained grit.  Theses continually sifted into the worn wood, increasing gaps, tattering substrate and contributed to further loosening of the joints.

MPFC’s task relative to the leg joinery, was to rectify the looseness of the joinery without damaging the historic joint in the process.
The buried nails were a daunting problem!
When we considered disassembling the joint and recognized
each connection contained at least four 12 penny countersunk finish construction nails,
we began to look for alternatives to taking an invasive approach (disassembly)
because of the inevitable destruction to invasive approaches of the repairs,
especially as it related to extraction of the buried nails.
The process of removing these nails in order to gain access to the joint would certainly break and splinter elements of the joint through the process of prying and leveraging,
and probably would create large gouges in the joint walls and exterior surfaces.

So, what to do?

As in all balanced paths we settled upon the middle one:
we opted not to disassemble the joinery with all the risks to the elements which would occur through the extraction process. We favored traditional, common sense woodworking repairs which amended the losses along the joinery shoulders and corrected the instability
and the ongoing flex of the joint. Our first task was to remove the accreted rubble
clogging the voids adjacent to the sifted joint shoulders. How to do this without causing more damage and enlarging the already expansive voids?

Thank goodness for Japanese saw blades! Their precise teeth and thin blades allow
for fast and precise cuts. Note the steel which comprises the tooth edge on these
expensive blades is generally quite brittle, which translates as broken teeth if one
hits nails or hardened rubble. We lost several expensive blades withing
a few strokes due to undetected nails (see outside back front leg below).
I knew the hazards before I started and had made my peace
with the destruction of the tool in favor of the results in precision.
The shoulders were cleaned and the kerf lines established.

We created the splines and veneers from tulip poplar (same wood species as the original components) which I cut on the band saw. Because each void was slightly different in girth, even though my saw blade was precise, not one size of spline would fit all voids.
I needed to create multiple widths of splines in order to achieve a proper fit
(which can be saved and used on other carousel horse applications).
After cutting the amending splines in multiple thickness I customized the widths to fit the disparate joint shoulders by trimming them.  Occasionally more than one spline per joint line was glued to modify due to diminishing shoulders on the joint.
This was done strategically using leverage within the shims by tapping the wood between two layers in order to create tension in the absence of the availability to clamp. Ultimately, each shoulder line returned to a tight fit through the simple introduction of leverage.

Finally, I mixed a “hybrid” glue which has bulking qualities, flexibility
and excellent sheer strength along with the potential of reversibility if
one wants to dissolve the bond and introduce further repairs in future.
Note: One does not want to rely upon glue to replace structure!
Glues of all types are notoriously poor relative to maintaining strength
when one attempts to use them in place of proper woodworking solutions.
I made certain the voids between joinery surfaces were filled with wooden splines
with little tolerance between joining surfaces so that the glue would simply act as the ‘tacking’ medium, rather than adding structure. To that end,  I brushed all fresh and historic surfaces with thin layers of our customized glue then installed
the fresh splines and veneers. After waiting 24 hours the splines were trimmed to
historic surfaces, shaped, then made ready for gesso and paint.

Having described the process, above, we will show each leg, below.

ROMANCE FRONT LEG

OUTSIDE BACK FRONT LEG

OUTSIDE BACK REAR LEG

TO VIEW ROMANCE REAR LEG
(WHERE TAIL MEETS LEG, VISIT HERE)

This join was discussed under the Tail Reparation:
image below after priming with gesso and before tail was attached.


The belly splits are repaired next!

Follow us for updates on the happenings at the stable!
We will continue to take you behind the scenes!
Search “JBC” or “Jantzen Beach” in our search feature (right) for more posts.
To keep abreast of our post, follow us here or
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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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Washington State Flag, 14: Painting

We left off with eyes following me around the room, above, and a day of oiling out.

The background is a blend from left to right of
phthalo, sap, olive, and chromium greens,
as we illuminate George from behind on the right side.

The first coats of his jacket are on, moving between two blends,
a darker blend to a bright blue blend,
and his eyes begin with the brighter blue in their first coat.

Note the difference in brilliance as the paint begins to cure…
It will darken even a bit more as the days wear on.


A second deepening coat of blues will be added before I write again.
While I blend oils as I go, I am interested in
applying thin layers to avoid a highly textured painting.

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,
and fresh paint is much brighter than after it is cured…

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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JBC: White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part III

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
White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part I; and
White Patriotic Jumper Treatment, Tail, Part II.

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!

TAIL BREAK

The tail was originally secured
to the rump and the romance ankle using screws which penetrated the tail tenon in the rump and the tail tip to romance ankle at the tail’s bottom. The rump to ankle connection ensures the stability of the long tail. The inclusion of steel pins (16 penny nails which had been cut to an advantageous length, shown above), enabled the joiner the ability to flex the two parts of the tail in order to line up to their liking then amend the tail appropriately if there were discrepancies.  Once line-up occurred, the carver could amend whatever voids might exist between the two pieces, glue the additional piece into place, then carve the amendment to match surrounding area.

Examination of the American Patriotic Jumper’s tail prior to excavation shows
anomalies around this joinery surface which are aesthetically consistent with multiple poor repairs and subsequent losses to the carved substrates.  Proper reparation of this point in the tail allows us to reestablish those historic carving elevations which will,
in the end, look as they did when Parker originally carved the tails.

MPFC did not anticipate
dry rot in the tail to knee connection!

Apparently water collected in the crevice of the tail to ankle connection, causing the rot.
Possibly early on they hosed down the horses to clean, or
perhaps they were outside for a portion of their life.
The tail-to-ankle restoration project became exponentially larger in scope.
Both the tail tip and the ankle exhibited losses.
The ankle from rot and losses and improper screws and putties:
severe rot in the tail tip, both in breadth and depth, especially within the tail tip.
This meant a great deal of desiccated and splintering historic wood substrate had to be strategically removed from the surface and core of the tail and ankle without disturbing the essential function and aesthetics of the tail and it’s connecting parts.

During the excavation process MPFC was able to discover that the tail was originally screwed to the ankle.  Iron oxide tracings wicked deeply into the ankle, tell its story.

Losses are found in the upper tail joins due to wear and multiple damaging repairs.  Shifts in the tail tenon and rump mortise trajectory and shifted angles caused the repaired tail to be a bit shorter than was needed.  In order to mitigate this shortage we created a spline from tulip poplar and secured it within the tail tip join which then allowed the tail to extend completely to the ankle as was originally intended.

This addition join and tip were carved so that,
once painted, it will not be noticeable.

ALL TAIL PARTS TOGETHER

We did not apply the tail until after the first coats of paint were applied,
which is why you won’t see the tail back onto the horse until the finish stages.
Repairs all took different times and we moved on in finish work so that the inside
of the back legs could be easily painted without a tail inserted.

The tail is a monumental repair in that it was a hard repair, and most of all,
the missing parts did not allow a template for how the tail would go back together.  Meticulous work on Mitchell’s part, and fittings
testing back and forth on Patriotic Jumper ensured that the tail fit!

The tail attached, then loosened so that minor shims were
added for a close fit against the body proper.

Screws with their plugs ensure that the next time the tail must be repaired,
the plugs can be removed, the screws unscrewed,
and whatever repair might be necessary performed properly.
There will be no further need for poor repairs  —
no more 3-penny nails sunk into the tail at cross purposes, or gunky putties!

Finally, cuts showing tail hairs were redefined,
as this was the way Parker originally designed the tails.


The final test?  A coat of gesso.  Putting a coat of paint on a repair
tends to show every anomaly.  This repair does not show!

The completed tail is ready for the final coats of paint!

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.

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Textile Conservation: Victorian Tea Cosy, 2, Beads


Continuing from our earlier post…

The difficulty in finding beads to match vintage beads is astounding!
Clients and those creating new works are unaware that every day our commerce is trying to save cash by only stocking what is popular.
It is nearly impossible to find beads locally, and in the end all my beads
for this project came from small vendors scattered throughout the world,
from England to the Czech Republic to the USA.
I give thanks to the puter daily because it was even harder 30 years ago.

I started with color and size.

Color, mostly glass: just off white (somewhat matte or semi-gloss,
and probably were once very bright), black (gloss),
clear with a silver interior (not rainbow or gold lined clear),
4 shades of grey (hematite-ish, silvery-grey, light clear, and a milky grey), gold, and a metallic bead which melted (more about that later) and morphed into several colors.
My goal is to match they way they look unless I can find the actual bead —
and assuming the actual bead will look correct on a piece that has heat damage.

Size: Here is our first hurdle.
Seed beads today are usually sold in 8/0 or 11/0.
Unfortunately, most vintage items take a 9/0 or 10/0 bead.

First I bought several bags of beads in the 8/0 and 11/0 sizes which matched our vintage beads, success in color.  (I can always use these beads in my own beading project.)
For my purposes, it allows me a description if I need to discuss beads with vendors
around the world: “Is this color similar to ‘insert common bead name here’?”

I actually tried many of the 8/0 or 11/0 beads in the project, to see if I could use them.
Nope.

So began the hunt began for the right color in size 9/0 or 10/0.
I have more success with Etsy looking for vintage beads, but it still takes several searches over a couple months, because new lots come in and are posted, and then sell out.


Four dozen bags or tubes of beads later I began to whittle down to the hard-to find beads.  These tend to be bolder, and shape becomes an issue.

Example, the white beads stand out on this piece.  Modern white seed beads
are typically rounder, not irregular, and bright, many appearing almost plastic.
These white beads MUST be the right size, and
if possible I want to find beads that do not all have the uniform machined look and rounding, but appear to be handmade, as were the original beads.
(See more on white beads at the bottom.)


Matching appearance: There is a metal bead that was heat damaged
and this damaged bead looks gold, red-brown, and hematite.
Substituting this bead will be tricky, because I can’t remove the melty
vintage beads in many cases — they are fused in place.
My strategy will be to find 2-3 beads that I can use together to create the
appearance of the field of metal beads, so the new don’t stand out.
I had success with a mix of vintage and new beads which will be good substitutions, above,
even though they are not the exact vintage bead.  The color and shape and size
are close or even correct, however, they are new, not old.


But damn the white beads…
Seriously, WHITE BEADS… I now have a dozen bags of white beads
and not one of them is correct, and I want to get started.


One more check on Etsy — and the hope of success!
I found VINTAGE white beads from a dealer in Seattle, House of Twinkle!
Arrived today, and while they are not perfect, they are the closest I’ve found.
They are vintage beads from the Victorian era, and if I choose the largest beads
from the package such as they sixth and seventh bead from the left, above,
I think they will work.  it is time to have the project move forward with these beads!

Update addition:  Some beads arrived from Europe in 9/0 and 10/0 sizes
and many are wonderful beads for this project!

I will start beading today!

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Washington State Flag, 13: Oiling Out

Note: The images are at an angle so the powdery textures and oil can be better seen.

Taking a break from painting George to discuss a procedure
that will be performed on the finished product, and the testing day.

We choose oil paints for their pigment, which means sometimes
balancing has to happen in the form of “oiling out”.
Oiling out is to add a layer of medium to the top of the paint,
let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it off again.
Sometimes this has to be done more than once to balance.


I noticed that a powder had formed in certain areas on both the text images on paper,
and on the silk images which were fully cured, mostly in the greens and one blue.
(I rubbed my finger across the top of the powdery residue, above.)
In some of these it had happened suddenly, so perhaps the drying time combined
with the change in weather made the unbalanced areas appear stronger.
Having never oiled out on silk before, I tested it on the silk test image.


Oil mixture was wiped on the left-hand side,
allowed to sit for a few minutes, then removed…
See the radical difference from the left-hand side to the right above and below?
Now it will be allowed to cure for a couple of weeks
and we can see if a second treatment needs to be performed.

Above, detail of the oiled out area, left, and the powdery residue on the right.

I also oiled out the paper test images; what a difference!

This process will slow down our ability to sew the silk immediately.
We will let the paint fully cure when finished for a couple of months,
then oil out the blanks before sewing the finished flag.

Meanwhile, we continue to paint George on the flag blanks!

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.

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, 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.

We discuss Oiling Out next.

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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