End of the 2021 + Holidays

We are happy to see the back of 2021 in so many ways!
It’s been a tough couple of years, trying to do business during Covid,
with shortages in staffing and materials in many vendor businesses, and also,
some people did a Jekyll/Hyde thang where the worst in them arose,
while others became more patient, even saintly!

Going into 2022, everyone’s New Year’s Resolution should
be to be more kind and patient than ever before,
because we are not out of the woods yet.

We are going to hibernate a lot this holiday…
unplug completely and be still and recharge our energy.
We will be back January 5th, rested and ready for a shift in a better New Year.

Wishing you a safe, healthy
and prosperous 2022!

       

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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Transformation!

As we end our year I am cleaning up our website.
I was thinking about how transformational our work can be!

 A snapshot into the transformations of these furniture pieces in the hands
of a traditional upholstery conservator with amazing design skills, below!

Happy New Year!!

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

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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.

Posted in antiques, art, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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!

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

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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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.

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

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