The Flag Room is staged for the duration of the project.
Black foam-core lines the walls waiting for the silk to be stretched upon.
The silk will be attached to the foam-core for stability.
The center table, currently used to lay the historic flag upon while the tracings
are created, below, will eventually be a work table, and the historic flag, for the time
we are allowed to keep it, will rest on the far table, covered and wrapped as it was delivered to us, with one exception. The historic flag came to us folded in two places, leaving pressure marks on the face of the flag, a pitfall of not having a
conservator properly pack the flag. Fortunately, as it was not stored folded for a long time, these were temporary marks and released over a few weeks and with gentle pressure placed across the surface. We advise against folding in any case, as every time
the historic flag is folded it wears on the old silk and passementerie.
Textiles become brittle as they age even in the best circumstances, and the tiny breaks from folding are often not noticed until they grow to a noticeable tear.
The fold marks brought to our attention the stiffness of the silk, and we wondered if the entire flag was sized, not just the painted medallion. However, without testing that will remain conjecture. Note the line made, right. We assume it is a guide line. Note the color of the silk, imperceptible unless one is searching, on both sides of the line. If only the medallion was sized, the silk would change color in this area.
Before tracing, Mitchell and I made the final decisions on the particulars
of the reproduction, and these, two, are to be laid into the tracings.
1/16-inch clear rigid acrylic is laid upon the historic flag for protection.
(Two persons centered and laid it gently to ensure the safety of the flag.)
This allows us to take overall patterns of the painting and the details,
without risking marking or tearing the flag.
On heavy vellum, the entire tracing is created.
Every detail of the flag was all measured and another set of details photographed.
Along the way, notes are taken of the oddities of the passementerie and the painting.
The first oddity is that the flag itself is not symmetrical.
It ranges from 34.5″ to 35.5 inches wide, and the length slightly droops
(or so it appears, as we are not hanging the flag nor pulling on it.)
The hand-painted letters are all a bit different, one from the next,
which leads us to surmise that a template was not used.
Three different “S” letters: the angled beginnings and ends of the letter are different,
and as most “S” letters will be symmetrical in their circular form, or bottom heavy,
it appears that the “S”in “STATE” (above)
is upside down from a lettering perspective, as it is top heavy!
Four different “E” letters (above): top heavy, bottom heavy, or perfectly even.
I wonder if the same person worked on the flag from start to finish!
The “A” letters are the most alike, above and below.
My inclination is to try to reproduce the anomalies…
It is harder to reproduce anomalies than to simply pick one of each letter to replicate.
The seal and drawing of George, as I am beginning to call him,
on the large tracing is for placement only.
As we are not to have the historic flag in our studio for the duration of the project (WA DES requested it back for storage), every aspect of the passementerie must be noted. The twisted braid (with eyelets) which was positioned by hand into the floral motif, is not evenly spaced, also evidence that the braid was not created before application, ready to place onto the silk, but hand applied by the seamstress or tailor. I note the center line and spacing of the braid, and in doing so note that the dimensions are variable, and sometimes it is not perpendicular. While taking these patterns we are creating a final count of yardage for the various types of passementerie.
We also have worked out our various design issues, such as creating a silk loop which the gimp trim applies to, which will make the loops stronger than the historic flag loops.
Finally, there are the tracings for George’s reproduction.
(Sorry for the images; hard to photograph pencil!).
I have several as we are creating studies, then more than one silk set…
I want to make sure we have a good image, and this is the first time I’ve painted on silk.
To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.
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