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 1995 she was chemically stripped during her 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!

Next, we show the restoration
of one sample horse!

   

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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 for a decade, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Textile Conservation: Victorian Tea Cosy


We have several interesting textile projects in the studio this year,
and one of the most challenging is this Victorian Tea Cosy
for a private client who has generously allowed the process to be shared.

Today I began the excavation (disassembly) of the Cosy.
This tiny project (under 15-inches wide) is a complicated piece,
with issues such as cleaning, burnt beading, missing beading,
brittle linen gridwork, missing needlepoint… and it is beaded on both sides!

Above are details of both sides “A” and “B”.

The colors will change throughout as I choose images based on the best details,
and flashes change the color tremendously.
Already, with just a bit of trim removed,
we see the bright green the Cosy once exhibited!


The braided trim releases easily, though there were a few areas where
someone previously hand-repaired the Cosy; these repairs are quite difficult
to navigate without damaging the beaded areas.
The repairs wrapped several layers of thread tightly wound
and traveled deep into the needlepoint field.  Something to think about if you have to create a temporary repair: Hold it loosely!

Once the trim is removed, the Cosy disassembly begins.
Again, there are areas which were hand-repaired and these stitches are carefully cut.

Many stitches were so brittle that when one was cut several more popped apart,
however, it is best not to ever assume and pull, hoping to save time.
It is equally easy that there will be a repair that might rip,
or a strong stitch that holds and you rip the textile.  Patience is key.


The two sides are finally apart, above:
Side B is top, and Side A bottom.


We also see the inside of the Cosy!
While it is unlikely this Cosy will ever by used again,
it once topped hot teas, and the steam embedded dirt on the inside.
We are replacing the inside.

The textile is removed from the lining!
This is the most nerve-wracking work, as the we know the linen gridwork is brittle,
areas are already ripped, and we don’t know the condition of the small hem.
I prefer a stitch-picker to any other cutting device.
I can move the protected blade outward away from the textile, and clip only
the one stitch I see on the tip of the blade by sliding it back.

And we get our first look at the back of side “A” textile.
It is extremely damaged piece!  Besides tears in the gridwork, the dark brown “stains”
on the back are actually areas where beading was beginning to melt!

The color of the various threads tell a story that I interpret once
enough of the piece is apart… This is guesswork, but educated guesswork.
Kate takes notes throughout as reminders.

Black thread added the braid to the Cosy, and this tells me that it
might be original but might be second generation… because…

A dark brown thread may have been used as a basting stitch to secure the top
of the Cosy prior to final stitching of the entire piece altogether.
it lay just below the faded green thread.

A faded green thread hand-stitched the textile to the lining… it appears a khaki color, but up close you can see that it may have matched the original brilliant green yarn!

Finally, the repairs were created using a thicker tan thread, and appear sporadically.

Kate began to lift the lining from the textile, and ran into a snag.
Beads which melted (first image) had also adhered to the cotton batting.
This will be dealt with during the reparation, so the batting was carefully snipped;
we will discuss melting beadwork in another post.

Side “A” is disassembled, above.

A through assessment, and there are a few surprises,
including the cotton batting melted into the textile, and two areas where the previous repairs went too far and tapped into the gridwork.
None of the rips are a surprise, however.


This textile cannot be cleaned until the entire piece is stabilized and all the beads
are secured.  In just this round of gentle handling six beads dropped.

We will be documenting this treatment over the next year;
you can follow along by requesting updates!

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

Posted in antiques, art, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, textiles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horseshoe Mystery!

The subtlety of the carving detail on the legs of the carousel horses is extraordinary!

Parker has cleverly placed his identifying mark, “C.W.Parker, Leavenworth, Kan,”
on the bottom of most horseshoes, such as these on the extra-large horse, Terri, above.


The horseshoes are a separate metal shoe on all but the tiny Parker Ponies, below.
Above, a medium older leg completely stripped;
you can see the place where the horseshoe attached with tiny nails.


You can also see the size of the feet on the Parker Ponies
changed over the years: the younger horse with big feet is on the left.

The Mystery:
Some of the horseshoes
have an additional mark!

MPFC cannot comprehend the
importance of the secondary marks.

On the Large Hunter Jumper above,
the Roman Numeral “V” exists…
Is this for “5”?  And why?
Or is it, laughably, a “V” for
Very Very old carousel horse?

We cannot detect a pattern: All the Large Black Stargazer’s extra marks are an “L”,
so you might think, a large horse, right?  Or is that a fifty-year-mark!?
Fifty of these models?  Fifty horseshoes made?
But why are the Water River Horse shoes labeled “L” and he is HUGE,  an extra-large!
And Terri is an extra-large and she has no extra identifying marks…

Plus there is another mystery… some of the horses have two marks on their shoes.  On the Water River Horse, three are marked “L” and one “V”!
Makes no sense, but we are certain the numerals mean something!

On the Medium Pinto Stargazer, above, “37”, the only numerals
that are not Roman, adorn all four shoes.  WHY?

Does anyone know why these
horseshoes are marked this way!?!
The horses are refusing to say!

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, conservation techniques, painted objects, preservation, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

JBC: Virtual Sketching!

Carousel horses have always delighted, even in the midst
of virtual games and E-ticket rides;
most of us don’t stop and look at them,
but are seduced by the Wurlitzer calling to us,
and the color and the action and the lights.

Kate runs a group of artists from around the world who paint from images
through a virtual meeting where they all paint a place together and enjoy the company
that comes from sharing.  Each month a different place is chosen and the
Virtual Sketchwalk group makes art from the photos offered for that walk.

This month we did images from the
Jantzen Beach Carousel!

*As you scroll through the slideshow the artists names will appear!*

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!, and the Parker Ponies!
To keep abreast of our posts, 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, decorative motifs, musings, News, painted objects, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Valentine’s Day

 
Happy Day!
Love is in the air in the stable!

He’s grinning cuz he’s in need of lots of TLC
and this is the place to get it!
Poor stagazer is chipped and broken and oh my, he is so wonderful…
I love Pintos!

   

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment