Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil, Cleaning Textiles

Our client’s Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil, above.
We started, as we always do, with an assessment.
Then patterns were made and the textile and buildup was excavated.
The  frame finish was conserved.

Be sure to run your cursor over images
to see the text where applicable.


We changed our proposed protocol after seeing how the tapestry had been cut to
the quick on the edges, above, and left tattering with no stabilization or overcasting
before its last upholstery.  We did not want to wet clean the entire piece because we did not want to chance shrinkage.  Instead we spot cleaned and used a method of repeated
top and bottom cleaning of the surface fibers that takes a bit longer, but is safer.

Further, the last upholsterer used a THICK coating of yellow carpenter’s PVA glue (not a white glue such as casein) to glue the gimp trim to the tapestry edge.  This glue is completely inappropriate, and removing the glue would be extremely difficult.
What appears to be a dirty edge is in fact a thick coating of glue  — we did not try to remove it at all, but are using it to help stabilize the edges at this time.

However, it was also more difficult to overcast the tapestry.
The needle and thread kept getting caught in this thick sticky PVA muck;
Mitchell is adept at using a serger!
The overcasting was successful but not pretty.

Protocol was to vacuum deeply on both sides using a soft brush attachment
which helped to lift the fibers and pull glitter and debris.
The seat was covered with glitter!  The tapestry also had several “splinters,”
and we cannot imagine how the chair came into contact with these.
They are not straw or fibers from the inside working their way out!

The tapestry pieces were then spot cleaned in several small areas, and using both a
repurposed and dedicated mushroom brush, and specialty wipes,
which also were used on the surface of the tapestry fibers to remove surface debris.

The crest of the inside back was especially dirty from hair oils and hands
grabbing the back of the chair over the years.  This area was thoroughly cleaned twice
using ®Orvus and distilled water, saturating and moving the dirt.

Above, it is interesting to see the original colors before they faded;
the back of the tapestry shows us the muted greys and taupes were actually purple colors of orchids and violets.  The muted pinks were brilliant, almost bubble gum pink…
Imagine if the rose and coral were actually the intended colors of bright pink
and bright orange next to the yellow, which held its pigment.

Two very small areas at the edges of tacking areas had damaged stitches.

This is a good time to explain about matching historic yarns.
The yarns are often difficult
to match because they are
not actual dye colors, but colors that have faded over time.  Right, you can see what appear to be two browns, but in reality are the same brown yarn, but one is very faded and appears to be tobacco, while the other is closer to the original color.  In the damaged area below, replacement area moves from faded to the original color where the tape covered it.

Sometimes one can match
the yarn exactly, but more often not.  One option if the area is not highly visible is to take a strand from each color and blend them, as shown right. (Note flashed color appears brighter.)  The damaged area on the rf-arm top was missing not only yarn but also the linen warp and weft of the grid which the yarn stitches into; this loss was right at the edge where
the folds and the tacking margins occurred.  I used
yarn to create the grid.

On the seat at the right-facing corner, another highly degraded bright bubble gum pink area both had faded missing stitches, and a degraded edge for tacking.
Again, I used two colors not at all like the original to blend a repair
on an edge that no one will notice even if it is pointed out to them!
After I needle-pointed the missing stitches, I wrapped the edges to secure
so that when Mitchell needs to tack into that area he has purchase, and
ran yarns up into the body before knotting for extra stability.

(Note that is not dirt but the terrible PVA glue at the edges!)

Above, the four tapestry pieces
after cleaning and reparation.

The tapestry is quite beautiful with varying kinds of needlepoint,
petite-point and stitches to create the bodies of the people and the Phoenix.
As you scroll through the details above, pay attention to the eyes and fingers and the various skin tones and sizes of the stitches.  It is quite beautiful!

The tapestry is almost ready for reupholstery.
Mitchell will stabilize the back using a strong but light silk.

Our next steps are reparation of the frame, and to restore the buildup.
As we post I will link to the next posting: follow us so you are notified of updates.

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, chair, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, upholstery, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil, Finish

Our client’s Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil from the nineteenth century
came in for treatment of the textile (gentle cleaning, and stabilizing from the back),
conservation of original finish, and conservation of the upholstery buildup (innards).
Before treatment images above.  We started, as we always do, with an assessment.
Our next steps were pattern making and excavation of the textile and buildup.

Now we move to preserving the lovely original finish.

Be sure to run your cursor over images
to see the text where applicable.

The fauteuil ready for finish work, above.

The last upholsterers had dripped glue on the carved finish;
this was carefully removed with a small chisel,
then steel wool removed the last of the glue.

We always make our own shellacs; often we make our own waxes,
but not always.  For the fauteuil frame, we decided to use two
of three commercial products we occasionally use.

We are not recommending these for your applications at home!
Our criteria depends upon the condition and the type of finish!

We started with Briwax.
We applied liberally and allowed it to set, then wiped it off.

We use Gamblin’s Gamsol OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits) to scrub into the wax.
Gamblin’s OMS is so gentle — and nearly non-toxic!
We do not wear a mask when using it, just good ventilation,
and it does not cut deep into finishes.  A horsehair brush and a large oil painting brush from Kate’s stash was used to scrub. It was allowed to set, then wiped clean.

We then moved to Liberon’s Black Bison. We worked it into the details,
allowed it to set, then removed it selectively with brushes and a clean rag.

It was a lovely color, the original finish enhanced and cleaned,
but we wanted a bit more depth and a little more gloss.
A final coat of Briwax did the trick, applied then buffed for a semi-gloss sheen.

Before and after, below.  It should look like a well-appointed finish,
not new (which it is not), but clean and glowing with a nice depth of color!
A bit of the color shift is the lighting in different rooms…


Our next steps are to clean the tapestry and outside back wool rep,
to create the new buildup, and to reupsholster.
As we post I will link to the next posting: follow us so you are notified of updates.

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, chair, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, upholstery, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil, Excavation and Patterns

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Our client’s Louis XIV Revival Fauteuil from the nineteenth century
came in for treatment of the textile (gentle cleaning, and stabilizing from the back),
conservation of original finish, and conservation of the upholstery buildup (innards).
Before treatment images above, though some of the gimp is removed.

We started, as we always do, with an assessment.
Our next steps are pattern making and excavation of the textile and buildup:
We apologize in advance for the strange yellow lighting in this room.

Because we are reupholstering the textile after we conserve the buildup,
we begin by taking patterns before we remove the textile.  Part of the pattern making process is to provide Mitchell with a template of the proper buildup.  Clear plastic allows Mitchell to make notes, identify tacking positions (to determine the number of upholsterings), and when the tapestry is cleaned, will assist with blocking.

One issue we saw immediately upon removal of the gimp trim was the excessive amount of glue applied.  It appears possible there was a repair sometime in the textile’s life, and the upholsterer trimmed the textile too close instead of turning the edge under, leaving the next upholsterer (us!) a poor edge with which to work.  We will have to be extremely careful because of someone who decided trimming was easier for them!

The seat textile removed, notations made, and the textile was set aside for cleaning.

Mitchell moved to the inside back, created the pattern, and began excavation.

The outside back fabric is also going to be reupholstered after it is cleaned;
the inside back is fully excavated to release
the outside back showcover fabric, a woven brown wool rep,
which may be a second generation showcover for the outside back.
There are notes in a few of  the images.

The arm tapestries were removed, and all patterning completed, above.

Finally the seat buildup was excavated.
There is a different fiber under an earlier tack, so there may have been
an earlier showcover or possibly this is a muslin.
There is not enough fiber to tell the story.

Most of the innards will be cleaned and re-utilized during the re-upholstery phase.
They were carefully removed, layer by layer,
and set aside in the order of removal, ready for cleaning.
It is unusual to see 2-inch webbing; usually you see a 3-inch webbing and fewer courses.  This is the original webbing, and Mitchell can affirm this because of the tacking holes.  Mitchell thinks they were trying to achieve a sprung platform which would
drop the center of gravity, making the seat more comfortable.
Copper alloyed springs place the chair between 1890-1910.


And we find this, though no other signature markings: “Made in Belgium,”
the original dustcover on the bottom!  Mitchell will place this back in the chair
as part of its history, but it is too rotten to reuse.

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The exposed frame ready for repairs and finish work.

Our next steps are to clean the tapestry and outside back wool rep, and to conserve the finish.  As we post I will link to the next posting: follow us so you are notified of updates.

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, chair, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, Interim Report, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, textiles, upholstery, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Washington State Flag: Painting


We left off with corrections and tracing the letters.

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…
also…
The test images were all done with basically one coat; on the final flag,

most colors are getting 2-3 coats on top of the base.  With the drying time
between (4-7 days) it slows the process down a bit.
Some colors dry a bit faster, but I have learned my lesson to be patient.

The Corona virus stopped things suddenly, and I did not get back to
painting for over four weeks.  We could not foresee how it would change our studio other than protocols: NO one in the studio after beginning of March, and
setting up a waiting station of incoming deliveries to sit for several days.
But, clients were concerned and needed to be reassured, pickups and deliveries were canceled, and we had to rearrange the studio for storing finished items long terms.
Painting George is not like doing a bit of touch-up.
I need four hour stretches to drop into painting an image.
The last day it looked like I was interrupted, above, and I was — and I lost mixed paint.
Starting back up I had to clean, remix some colors, and relax into the portraits again.

The lettering was created with a small 3/8-inch angled specialty brush.
I decided not to use the mixed paints because of the separation;
metallic paints have different properties and ways of mixing with other paints.
Instead I painted one the Rich Gold, and two in the Pale Gold.
The lettering was actually the most difficult of the tasks,
because of the way I had to stand with the small brush making precise marks…
I wish I could have flipped the blanks around into various position
to make it easier, but they are large and unwieldy.

It is risky to show faces that are basically blocked in —
A layer of paint must go on underneath on the silk to cover the green,
then fine tuning can be done.  Without 2-3 coats of thin paint the portrait become too textural — something that I do not want in the flag.  Above you can see how as I fine tune (this is still not quite done) he begins to look more like himself; still, his eyebrows
are not quite right, and his nose needs a bit of work.

Below, Portrait #3 as it progresses from transfer sketch to an almost finished face.

Portrait #3

Lining of the lettering, finishing George’s other faces, lace on his blouse,
and coming back for fine-tuning or corrections if needed —
and I am complete with the painting of the portraits.

To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.

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

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Washington State Flag: Painting


We left off with the background and the beginnings of the jacket, above.

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…

The test images were all done with basically one coat; on the final flag,
most colors are getting 2-3 coats on top of the base.  With the drying time
between (4-7 days) it slows the process down a bit.
Some colors dry a bit faster, but I have learned my lesson to be patient.

The undercoats on the face laid in shadows and covered all green.
Do not be worried about the blocky undercoatings; he will look better!
I am a bit uncomfortable showing the face with the undercoats to people
who are not painters — George looks bit freaky!

A second coat on background was added.
An undercoat and a second coat on the hair.

As his jacket was begun, the yellow lapels are added.
A second coat is added to the deep blue jacket.

January-February, there were also three days of corrections.

I felt the lapels were too bright, above, and subdued them in the second coat — the fresh paint is brighter, and I am working against bright green versus the faded olive green, and sometimes adjustments have to be made.

I also felt the primed edge needed to be a more generous.  I traced out the edges again, giving me a tiny bit more “slop” in case.

Frankly, tracings are a stressful as paint —
Again, I can’t clean paint or wayward tracing pencil off the bright green silk.

Next post, I tackle the letters and fine tuning the faces.

To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.

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

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Mognat of Paris Steamer Trunk, 2, Prep Work

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This Mognat of Paris family steamer trunk ca 1900, begins here.

The original leather handle was removed as it was terribly degraded:
we will use this as a pattern to create three new handles,
as the handles on each side are missing.

The strapping leather for the handles is hand-dyed:
Three to four layers will be sewn together to create each handle.

EDIT: Though we created strap leather for the trunk we are not using it.
This leather will not be wasted — it is a color that is often found in many chairs and other pieces.  However, the leather we are using for the handles replacement will
be matched to the cleaned leather, which is much lighter in color.

Note the color difference in the front of the trunk and the bottom —
the front and sides once showed off this lovely patterning!
We hope to remove enough grime that we can again see the patterning.

We test cleaned the left-facing outside back of the trunk, beginning with the least
invasive to the most invasive.  The trunk is covered with a type of oil cloth; because of this,  we decided not to test Vulpex because of its tremendous ability to remove oils — it might damage the oil cloth.  We always start with distilled water.  Neither distilled water nor Orvus really had any impact.  We finally tried a mild solution of Borax and organic unscented dishwashing detergent, followed by rinsing.  This moved the grime!

Tests are made, and we are ready to begin.
The oilcloth and the leather will be treated after cleaning to add oils.

Examples of sticker and labels we will attempt to preserve.

Next step, cleaning, creating and reassembling.
Follow to receive new blog posts as they are released!

 

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, preservation, process, reparation, restoration techniques, textiles, upholstery, waxes, wooden objects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mognat of Paris Steamer Trunk, 1, Assessment


This Mognat of Paris family steamer trunk ca 1900, has been round the world many times.  The heirs brought it to us to clean, stabilize the inner lining, create new handles, and to preserve the character of the outer trunk memories if possible — stickers!

We do not often have the opportunity to conserve trunks
because they are so expensive to restore — many people think they would be fun,
and then see the price.  But this was a beloved family members trunk,
and the family wants to be able to gently use it in their home.

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Above, a basic slideshow showing all sides.

Note the color difference in the front of the trunk and the bottom —
the front and sides once showed off this lovely patterning!
We hope to remove enough grime that we can again see the patterning.

Details of the front.
Note the original handle?
This is the pattern of the handle we will recreate not only
for the front, but the sides as well.

Examples of sticker and labels we will attempt to preserve.

The upper insert with its degrading lining and ties will be removed, cleaned, and stabilized.  The bottom and top lining is in good condition: we will test it for cleaning
and see if it is a good candidate for cleaning while attached.

Note the strapping’s jacquard has the Mognat name woven into the fabric, image 6 above.

Next step, test cleaning and leather prep.
Follow to receive new blog posts as they are released!

 

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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Chinese Diorama Table, 2


Continuing from the first post of our client’s Chinese carved diorama
from the nineteenth century, we move now to the
reparation of the figurines and decorative elements.

Phase Three, Reparation

We used two glues, hide (we use only Old Brown Glue)
and fish glue (we made this time), depending upon the two surfaces being glued.
I am not fond of the smell of either, though Mitchell keeps trying to
reframe it for me, as he calls it the “smell of success!”

Protocol

  1. The protocol was to make sure the piece was properly positioned before gluing.
  2. The gluing surface was lightly scuffed with a fine, tiny amazing tool called
    Sandits Sanding Sticks, (though we buy them in large lots of the various grits)
    a bit like a Q-Tip dipped in sandpaper.
  3. Hide glue was applied to both sides, being careful not to apply too much — I could not come back and remove excess glue at the risk of removing the decorative colors.
  4. The piece was either shimmed to hold it in place, or held for about ten minutes until it set up.
  5. Broken pieces were allowed to set overnight before a second gluing.

Simpler glued pieces, above.

This little triangular piece of banister needed
a clever shim to hold it against the rocks for gluing!

The intact female was not broken; note she also had a previously applied
wooden shim on her backside (compare to the one below).

The broken female figure had a clean break, however, she was so very thin (no wood shim behind her) that securing her was difficult.  I had little room to create a wood shim, so I used Japanese paper, very thin, very strong, applied in layers with hide glue.  This sat overnight, and the next day I was able to slip her into place.

Reparation completed —
unless we find that newel post!

Above, the entire vignette divided into thirds with the details located in each third.
It is so lovely, I wanted to share!

Phase four, wooden base, next post!

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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Chinese Diorama Table, 1


Our client’s Chinese carved diorama
from the nineteenth century is one
of the most delightful items I’ve had
the pleasure to treat.  It is a pavilion
over water, with big rocks with large
trees of varying sorts along the base.
The upper level is adorned with
beautiful women enjoying their music
and possible various sewing arts, and
flirting with the men below.  Below men
are working, and some are looking up rapturously at the adoring women.
One of the men on the lower level
appears to have a much more elaborate costume, left, and I assume that
this man may have some sort of
ownership or higher standing.

The table also has a wooden form that holds the diorama and
a glass top, both of which will also be conserved.

Phase One, Assess Figurines

When our client brought the table to us, only a few figurines appeared to be loose;
our first phase was to see if others were also loose.
Mitchell disassembled the table so that they could be examined without the glass.

If you look closely at the top image, you can see the torso of the broken figurine (right)
just above the “ns” in our name.  She was the fifth female from the left on
the balcony of the pavilion.  She came apart in a move, and we believe as she fell (her legs were found behind the stair railing) she took the leaves along for the ride.
We haven’t found the location of the bubbly carving — and not sure if it is supposed to
be foam from the water, or an unknown bit of foliage.  I am inclined to the former.

  To test if any other parts were loose, I gently
touched each figurine,
tree, or landscape part
with the dental pick, right.
If it was loose it lifted easily.

Several more tiles, leaves,
and a second figurine,
happily not in pieces, was found to be loose.

We finally discovered the proper location of a sharp triangular piece; it is
behind a tree, part of the lower banister, next post.

Only one part could not be found, and that is a small part of the stairwell, above left.
The newel post is missing, and we know should be there because it has a small gap and cannot be glued in place without it, seen in the right image of the stairs.
It may have slipped and is lodged deep behind the railings, but we could not find it.
(The temptation, of course, is to gently shake it loose but the table is too fragile!)
If it suddenly appears before the table is reassembled we can easily glue it in place.

Phase Two, Clean

Over the years tiny bits of the figurines have sloughed off; it appears as sand!  This was vacuumed carefully on the painted wooden background and over the figurines and decorative building parts with a tiny funneled textile vacuum set on low suction, above.

The sky along the top had
an odd sticky quality to it.
It attracted the “sand” and it stuck to the sky, above right. As the sky is a painted
wooden base, after testing
we knew we could gently
clean it using distilled water and cotton swabs, and the ridge at the top of the sky
was carefully cleaned of
debris and the sticky substance.

You can see the grime removed on the cotton swabs, above left.

We tested the clean-ability of the figurines on the edge of a cloud, above right. A slightly damp cotton swab touched the edge and the blue from the cloud came off on the swab.

THE FIGURINES AND THE APPLIED
DECORATIONS MAY NOT BE WET CLEANED!

A substance that looked like common black machine grease was found in several places on the white railings; we have no clue as to how it might have arrived on the railings!
It was easily cleaned, and as there was no colorful decoration on the railings, it was safe to do so, above.

Above, I leave you with details of the lower right-facing corner of the diorama, and a central portion of the balcony with four women — neither had repairs — after cleaning.

Phase three, reparation, next post!

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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