The work of the devil.

Conservation Issues

The work of the devil.

Postby An Old Master » Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:17 pm

Had an interesting job in last week. Medium sized watercolour in original frame and mount, signed by a well respected artist and dated 1878. Customer wanted the frame restoring, old glass retaining and a washline mount adding. Painting in first class condition and totally unmarked. Upon dismantling, found it was stuck to strawboard with animal skin glue; the reason I know this is because the original framer had written a note in pencil in the unpainted margin of the painting, relating how he'd framed, mounted and stuck it down and what materials he'd used. The point is that the painting was literally as good as new, the unpainted cloud areas were as white as if the artist had finished it yesterday. There weren't even any acid burn marks from the mount, obviously because it had been paper wrapped. The Conservation Police, who would tell you that strawboard is best hung with garlic and exposed to sunlight, would be baffled. I shall leave notes in all my work in the future.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby prospero » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:17 pm

I think it depends on the paper. The more carp the paper, the better mounting it needs. :?

A few years back I re-framed a big Thorburn watercolour original. dated 1898. Nigh on four feet long. The paper was stuck to linen and mounted on stretcher bars. It had the original thick, gilt mount which was in a sorry state. The thing was, the painting was in perfect nick. I happen to know that Thorburn himself was very particular about his paper so only used the best quality and I suspect he did the linen mounting/stretching himself. Extra work, but paid dividends. I estimated the value at the time about £80k. When I swapped the glass for museum, it looked as if it was painted the day before.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby featurepiece » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:52 pm

I have a story - nothing as exciting though. But a few weeks ago a guy called with me - he was clearing out house for someone (deceased) and found a load of swept/ornate frames - he was off to the skip with them, I gave him a tenner for the lot and everyone was happy (the frames weren't new btw!) But... what I also got amongst all the old tat was a watercolour, done by a local guy dated 1978, on an A4 page and stuck onto mdf .... and no signs of foxing/discolouring blab blab - looked like new, the whites were still white. Framed/mounted in a way that even the devil shouldn't do but it's stood the test of time. Anyway, I just reframed it and stuck it up in the living room. Really nice thing too - a local lake etc etc.

Internal affairs may have a case with the conservation police methinks.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby Roboframer » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:45 pm

I've had many old things in treated in similar fashion and have been surprised at the good condition they are in and to be honest would be just as surprised, after that amount of time, if they had been mounted with no adhesive in contact ..... to capture-air-borne-pollutant-and-spit-it-back-out cotton board and 100% UV filtering glass!

I've had some where the glass is soooooo minging, inside and out, that I'm sure the ming has provided UV filtering!

But I've had more in - from that old to framed 20 or less years ago, that are pretty wrecked, combination of methods, materials and where they've been hung. If something framed to the bestest possible standard is hung in a bad place it may well deteriorate long before something framed with the worstest that's been in the attic and never hung at all.

No doubt in a couple of hundred years time framers may be surprised at the condition of stuff that has been done today in the best way/with the best materials possible/available to us now. Maybe then there will be glass that blocks the whole light spectrum - or pigments that need no blocking, even refresh themselves after so many hours exposure.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby JohnMcafee » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:50 am

Wouldn't a glass that blocks the whole light spectrum be opaque, by definition?
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby Roboframer » Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:30 am

With today's technology, yes. In 200 years time, who knows?

My point was that today's best methods & materials won't be the best in 200 years time .... or no doubt even 50.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby An Old Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:32 am

Surely a definition is a definition - whether now or in 200 years ?
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby Roboframer » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:33 am

I refer the honourable member to my last sentence.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby An Old Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:43 am

Will a definition of fact be different in 200 years? I believe black was still black in 1815 - ask Wellington. New balls please!
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby Roboframer » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:53 am

No comments on the main point of my reply then.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby An Old Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:03 pm

I refer the horrible etc etc.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby prospero » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:31 pm

A lot of artists (or 'artists') just don't take into account the craft involved in producing their work. They may be highly talented, but if they knock out a piece on the back of a cornflake packet with marker pens then they are mostly creating headaches for future restorers.
It's like the 'tourist' stuff that people drag back from exotic climes. Bedsheets, bits of tea-chests with gawd knows what paint. They usually cost peanuts, but these are the sort of things that demand the best conservation practices. £250?! :shock: .... I only paid £3.50. Whereas a painting on a good canvas - properly primed and executed with good quality paints, mixed properly will stand a lot of abuse.

Case in point:

I framed some certificates. The customer printed them on common-or-garden PC printer. They have an image on them. Also a few (irreplaceable) sigs (in ink). I know darn well that in a short while the image will be greeny/blue and the sigs will be purple/brown/disappeared. So I put museum glass in. +£50. Dearer than getting a proper printer to do them with lightfast inks I'll be bound. And I have my doubts that they will stay good even with mus glass.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby JohnMcafee » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:32 pm

I think that even in 200 years the laws of physics as we know them will still apply, so that if we put a material that filters the entire visible spectrum between ourselves and an object, we will not be able to see that object. You see, Roboframer, the current thinking is that the reason that we se stuff is because light (that is electro magnetic radiation in the visible spectrum) has bounced of the stuff and is detected by a couple of organs on the front of our faces called eyes.

But as you say anything is possible. Who knows, you might be right and in two hundred years we will have evolved another sense that will enable us to "see" stuff without the need for any light at all. In which case it is not such a big leap to also imagine that a new machine will have been invented by then that will restore pictures that have been damaged by the ravages of time by pressing a button.

Here's to the future! :)
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby IFGL » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:45 pm

I don't think Robo framer literally meant filtering out all the visible light, just the damage done by it, I am pretty sure this is an impossibility, but he wss just making a comment on how things will no doubt improve beyond what we can do now.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby Roboframer » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:50 pm

Maybe it won't be glass at all, could be a shield like wot's around the Starship Enterprise - we'll just have to wait and see won't we :Slap:
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby An Old Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:07 pm

Thanks for that IFGL.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby IFGL » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:12 pm

lol, now he's just lost it.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby Roboframer » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:16 pm

You seen the one where they bring the Whales back? The size of that fish tank and it was only 4mm thick!!!
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby An Old Master » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:22 pm

Funny how they were framing stuff in the 19th c. that lasted for 200 years plus.
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Re: The work of the devil.

Postby JohnMcafee » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:00 pm

No, IFGL, that's exactly what roboframer said, he might have said it in a fancy way, and maybe he didn't understand what he said, but he did in fact entertain the possibility that in the future we may use a type of glass that blocks not just light that can cause serious damage, but all light.

Oh dear! Now he is saying that perhaps the technology from the Star Ship Enterprise could help explain his notion. However there is no getting away from the fact that no matter by what means, even by the use of some futuristic force field, if you filter all of the light from an object then you will not be able to see the object - remember sight works only when light enters the eye.

Perhaps some parallel universe, 200 years into the future, robo-logic will apply and nothing will have to make any sense at all. In that universe vision will be cat based and we will see stuff by the number of cats reflected and caught in a cat receptor on top of our heads. All well and good, of course, until someone without a clue about cat-ology suggests that we might be able to see perfectly well even if all cats in the visible spectrum were filtered out. Now that would just be crazy talk. :)

Jokes aside, this highlights the kind of misunderstandings that can so easily arise when we try to explain scientific concepts that we really do not understand. I have seen it again and again both here and elsewhere. Folk who have taken on the mavin role believe that they have to be seen to know everything about everything and maybe also feel that it would be humiliating to have to own up to not always having the answer.

So when it comes to seeking advice we really should try to think things through for ourselves. Always question the accepted wisdom. Mostly it is spot on, but every once in a while it isn't.
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