One Man’s Trash

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on No Facilities:
Cherished Workshop Stool As I look around my workshop, I see hundreds of objects that are important to me. Some are favorite tools. Some are jigs and fixtures that I’ve made to make woodworking easier.…

Gallery | 2 Comments

Creating Random Pattern in a Painted Finish

W16 5 5 HW SOFA B4 006

The sofa as it came to us. I am skipping all the work Mitchell has performed doing proper conservation work, reparation of the frame, and going to the finish, because people think this type of finish is the easiest one. WRONG. Give me a good shellacking to do any day!

This is a European Pear wood, Louis XVI, French Empire Sofa from the mid-18th century.
The image above is the way it appeared when it arrived in our studio.

W16 5 5 HW SOFA B4 059 The frame was well-loved by generations though abuses by upholsterers and
improper repairs and tackings eroded and exposed substrates which required expert treatment, including returning the bent frame to its proper proportion,
bent frame shown above.  The sofa was to be returned to historical accuracy in terms
of the upholstery buildup, with the frame properly repaired, but we worked with the existing finish.  Since the original painted finish was no longer intact,
we did not concern ourselves with historical accuracy.

By far one of the most difficult jobs I have is creating the look of an old randomly worn painted finish.  On this sofa, I was to recreate the look of two previous paint jobs which had been subject to chemical strippers decades before, while still upholstered.  We assume the restorer realized his/her mistake, and left the clabbered, shriveled, accreeted paint shedding from the reliefs and carving everywhere on the decorative frame, shown above.
The original painted finish was still evident beneath the scabbish surface though it had been thinned by stripping and scrapping.  The efficacy of the existing finish was long gone
by the time we received the sofa to conserve, however, the exposed pear wood
had developed a beautiful patina where it was exposed.

W16 7 HW SOFA PAINT ARTICLE 18The colors I had to match — or not — above. Not the gilding, and yes, there were bits of that left here and there. In this original finish detail, you can see, from the base up: the peach colored pear wood, a very old grey-green paint, a newer peachy-warm-cream paint, and a white-tinged-with-olive- green paint.  We even found traces of the stripped painted gilded finish underneath.  Our job was to recreate the paint job above and below,
which literally was falling off the sofa with any handling.

A random pattern.

A random pattern is not creating the look of paint worn — paint tends to wear off quite predictably, along edges and where it might bump the wall, or where heels kick it.  But a random pattern where the paint was supposed to have fallen off… argh!

How does one recreate what happens
naturally over time?

How do you recreate a faded paint
with many layers of color? 

DIYers are taught it is a wipe job with a crinkled rag, but it is much more complicated.
I had to cover up areas where someone had used pieces of mahogany to fill missing frame moldings, including areas where previous reparations were created using puttys,
match or blend at least four distinct colors,
and also allow for the oxidized pear wood to  shine through.
Because it was upholstered incorrectly previously, parts once hidden were visible again.

I was handed the frame repaired and ready for proper upholstery.  I began by mixing colors, testing layers on both a second piece of wood and on inconspicuous parts
of the frame then matching them against the same images you see here.
In the end there were three colors that made up the finish on the frame.

W16 7 HW SOFA PAINT ARTICLE 09To cover up the mahogany, a pear-wood toned paint was mixed from Titanium White, Transparent Earth Red, and from time to time (because the wood changed color on the frame) a bit of Indian Yellow.  This was also used to cover previous metal repairs which stayed on the frame.  It is hard to
match a teeny sliver of paint!  The paint
job was done by hand and with a scratchy old #4 round paintbrush.

The overcoat of “white” was really Olive Green and Titanium White.
This, too, was applied by hand.  To achieve RANDOM BALANCE (what a concept)
I looked at the areas which needed the most coverage and
then moved to balance that coverage randomly on the rest of the frame.

W16 7 22 HW SOFA FINISH WAX ON 010Finally, a slightly yellow wax with beeswax/carnauba/mineral spirits was created to coat the paint after it was fully cured, and to influence the final color of the sofa, above.
The wax was left to partially cure, then scrubbed off with an acrylic  toothbrush,
then rubbed again to achieve a buffed appearance (bottom final images).


I keep notes on every client’s finish in case I need to reproduce the finish.

Last glance — and a glimpse of the upholstery coming.

W16 7 23 HW SOFA FINISH WAX OFF 015 W16 7 23 HW SOFA FINISH WAX OFF 011©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

Posted in antiques, decorative motifs, painted furniture, pigments, restoration techniques, waxes, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Longer Video on Conserving the Eclectic Sofa

This slideshow shows the process (in abbreviated form) of conserving the Eclectic Victorian Tufted-Back Sofa.  There is an interesting story behind this and the two chairs that are part of  the set: stay tuned over the next few months for the story.



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




Posted in conservation techniques

Real Men Spit Tacks

W15 1 27 KP ECLTC SOFA B4 002

American Shield Back Victorian Settee, Eclectic, Ca. Mid-19th Century, before conservation.

Real men upholsterers spit tacks.

W15 12 11 KP ECLTC SOFA UP WEB 014After all these years, it still creeps me
out a bit — I see his cheeks bulge a
specific way while he is having a
conversation with me and I’ll peer at
him as if he is under a microscope,
“Do you have tacks in your cheek?”


And I repeat myself as wives
(and husbands and partners)
do when they stick around a long time,
“Aren’t you afraid you will choke on a tack?”
(Truth is I’m afraid he will choke on a tack.)

“Hasn’t happened in 40 years…”

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

Posted in conservation techniques, musings, process, restoration techniques, tools, upholstery | Tagged , ,

Restoring Rothko (Tate)

Posted in conservation techniques

Process: Circus Ball 3

We left the Circus Ball as it had been
prepped for its paint layers.

I am so sorry that all my images of the ball sanded smooth are very blurry!
Happily, the detailed images are in sharp!

The first coat of paint dragged as it was applied over the Araldyte.
I checked in with our client, because one problem with our treatment is that
we never were able to see the ball as it was before the stripping caused the wood to lift.
I could not tell if my assumption of the ball’s surface was correct.
I doubted it would have been extremely smooth,
because a performer has to be able to stand, grip and roll on the ball.

Our client told me that the surface looked
very much as it had originally!


I thought that the paint build-up might be more interesting, but truthfully, it is Gamblin’s Silver oil paint, and each coat looks close to the same — so not a photogenic moment!

W15 12 12 JK CIRCUS PAINT 1yIn all, four coats of paint are on this ball, and it is curing.

Next will come the blue star!

w15 jk aunt circus ball banner

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


Posted in conservation techniques, Interim Report, painted objects, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Restore Oregon Endangered Places 2016, The First Set

W15 11 26 RO Peggy Plate 024 BANNER 300This is part of a series for Restore Oregon

by one of our partners, Kate Powell (artist too, bio below!)

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Thanks to Drew Nasto, Craig Powell, and for the various locations for allowing me to use historic images to place into sketch format to commemorate the projects!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kate is sketching many of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places
for 2016 in a folded journal. The following locations are shown in this set:
the Rivoli Theater; the Jantzen Beach Carousel; the Wong Laundry Building;
the Chateau at the Oregon Caves NM; and the Fort Rock Homestead Museum.

W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 002W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 021W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 011W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 032Each place is shown below:

W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 003W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 023The Rivoli Theater was built as a brick commercial storefront in 1900.
It opened as a theater in 1922, and became an important gathering and entertainment center in downtown Pendleton. Vaudeville and silent movies and talking Hollywood films played into the 1940s. Television’s popularity in the 1950’s took a toll on the Rivoli,
but there are now plans to turn it into a cultural center once again.

The  images were mostly in black and white or sepia tones;
Kate played with color and using the teeny color images as reference!
The photograph used was taken possibly over a roof line, and the edges of signs were her stopping point, and they played well into the edge of the horses tail and feet.

W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 006W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 028The Jantzen Beach Carousel layout was also invented from many images,
both  historical and from newspapers and blog posts.

The carousel was built by the Charles Wallace Parker Company in Leavenworth, Kansas,  in 1921. C.W. Parker, the “American Amusement King,” built only three or four carousels the size of the Jantzen Beach Carousel.  It lived for a short time in California before moving to the amusement park built by the swimsuit family in 1927.  The horses are spectacular, and many were hand-carved by inmates of the Leavenworth Penitentiary. The amusement park’s popularity peaked during the 1940s, and it was largely dismantled, but the merry-go-round was in use until recently.  Portlanders have fond memories of the carousels, and when posting updates to friends, many remember riding the horses or have memories of their parents talking about trips to visit the horses on the merry-go-round.  Kate had no images showing the colors on the outside of the carousel.

The Merry-Go-Round is no longer present on site.  Restore Oregon is working with local partners to find strategy to restore and relocate. So many photographs have been taken of the exterior horses it was easy to sketch her horse.   She chose to draw the horse she would want to ride!  Kate hopes to do so someday — she loves merry-go-rounds!

W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 007W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 030The Wong Laundry Building, located at 239 N.W. Third Ave, Portland,
was built in 1908 by Alexander Ewart.  It is symbolic of immigrant struggles and work ethic in Portland’s Chinatown and Nihonmachi, or Japan-town.  Vacant and water-damaged since a fire in 1970, members of the community hope to restore it
as a combined commercial space, event space, and interactive museum.
Kate guessed at the colors, looking to the current buildings in Chinatown for clues.

W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 014W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 036The six-story Chateau at the Oregon Caves NM was built in 1934.
It has been featured in the Great Lodges of the National Parks, and is part of a larger development that includes a chalet, several employee and rental cottages, and a visitor’s center, all under consideration for National Register status as part of a district.
The buildings were all constructed between 1923 and 1941.  The Chateau is the most outstanding of these structures.  The building also holds one of the largest collections of Mason Monterey furniture, also in need of expert conservation.

MPF Conservation has a long history with the Chateau at the Oregon Caves NM.
Having treated thirty pieces of Mason Monterey furniture and having lived nearby for many years, we know and love the Chateau.  The image of the decks (destroyed by snow loads) was a black and white historical photo, and Kate laid color in as we know it.

The A-frame chair shown is the one surviving historic A-frame which survived the flood of 1964, probably because a guest had taken it from the dining room to their bedroom.
MPF Conservation used the lovely A-frame as the model for the design of the stripped broken A-frames, and did diligence to determine the colors used on the others.
We repaired the original, and it is now part of the museum collection.
Kate used the chair to balance the horse in the layout.

W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 016W15 12 2 RO ENDANGERED PLACES A 039Located in Fort Rock, Oregon, the Fort Rock Homestead Museum image derives
from Craig Powell’s photograph.  The Fort Rock Valley Historical Society conceived
and promoted the development of a homestead museum to preserve the
Fort Rock Valley’s pioneer heritage. As a result of the society’s efforts, the
Fort Rock Valley Historical Homestead Museum was opened in 1988.
It is a collection of original homestead era buildings assembled in a village setting, including the Fort Rock General Store.  Most of the buildings contain historic items used by local homesteaders including furniture, dishes, household products, and tools.

Inked sketches on a handmade Arches Journal with (mostly)
Platinum Carbon pen, Pentel Brush Pen, or Pilot Parallel pen 1.5;
Super5 or De Artramentis Document inks;
Daniel Smith, QoR, Holbien and Greenleaf & Blueberry Watercolors.

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I agree to Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License, which you can learn more about by visiting the site, or,
visit my web page for a more user-friendly summary on my terms.
My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to dkatiepowellart.
Photographic images by known photographers Drew Nasto and Craig Powell.

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