Friday, January 8, 2016

Grateful Dead

 Our first blog post of 2016 (where 2015 went I have no idea) is about a ca. 1978 Grateful Dead serigraph by the artist Stanely Mouse. (A short disclaimer: This serigraph was printed using gold metallic ink, which is incredibly hard to photograph so that it looks the same consistently so please keep that in mind when viewing our photos.)

This piece came to us for several different reasons. As you can see from the before photo there is some scuffing and dinging visible in the gold. On the back of the print there is also foxing, which is the general term used for certain types of oxidation in paper that causes red, rust like spots.


While I personally am not a Grateful Dead fan, I think this is a very elegant concert poster. It has an art deco feel to the lines and composition, with strong Egyptian influences mixed with the overtones of American Rock music from that era.

Additional photos from before conservation show that the poster was also curling a bit. A shot of the back also gives a better view of the foxing. 











John and I approached this conservation project with a little bit of trepidation, since the inks of serigraphs can sometimes be difficult and metallic paint adds in another  tricky factor. We fully expected some of the ink to flake away in the process, however, our caution  was unnecessary since we had no problems with either the ink or the paper during washing.



  There were numerous fingerprint smudges on the gold background, so we used a soft bristled brush to try and gently remove them. While we had some success they were still visible, although not as much as before.



After trying to manually lessen the fingerprints and scuff marks we then addressed the foxing on the back. This was done through a chemical rinse, that lightens all but the most stubborn foxing. Again, we got lucky and this foxing was not all that stubborn so the process made a huge difference. The final step in conservation was to put the print through our gelatin process to flatten it. After a few days curing on the board it was soft mounted to the print went to masking and airbrushing.

In masking Pete used a combination of low tack tape and miskit to cover the images in black ink so that we could airbrush the gold background to cover all the scuffs and scratches still visible. 



Aaron then applied a thin layer of gold metallic paint to cover all the wear and tear of 30+ years.


Unmasking is always one of my favorite parts of the restoration process to watch because it has always contained that magical feeling of unwrapping a present. Even when we consciously know what the print will look like, it is still incredibly cool to remove all the protective layers and see what a new coat of ink can do.


See what I mean? Like Christmas morning! 


There was some minor ink loss in the black that we also wanted to address. We used a combination of both airbrushing and hand detailing for the black areas. 





The photo below is another one of my favorites because it reminds me of how cool our jobs are. We spend most days getting to touch and restore pieces of art and history that people rarely see out of a frame. 


And the final outcome turned out beautifully!


Certain proprietary steps and procedures have been omitted. If you have any comments or ideas for things you would like to see us cover on our blog, please let us know! If you have further questions regarding other work or your pieces please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: http://www.postermountain.com and http://www.lapapergroup.com/. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog! For daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: follow us @postermount on Twitter and postermountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, Los Angeles Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pinnacle Crate Label

We are doing our first ever Flashback Friday post! A few weeks ago I was looking through some of our old blog projects and found an unfinished blog about a fruit crate label. We used to do dozens of these and although the demand has slowed down they are still one of my favorite pieces of vintage advertising to work on.

 Crate labels are usually on very thin paper which were glued to the sides of the wooden crates that the fruit was shipped in, which explains why the corners are often missing, such as in the Pinnacle Brand label featured in this post.

Here's the Before photo

Despite missing all four corners this crate label was still in pretty good condition since the majority of the image was still there and we could tell what the missing text was supposed to say.

This project is from about two years ago (I know because it was before I chopped off most of my hair!)

Step one was to wash out any impurities and then put the label through our isinglass gelatin treatment so that it was temporarily mounted to a melamine board.

Even though the paper is very thin, you can still see that it has been partially skinned in this corner when it was removed.

During the gelatin treatment I applied tissue on each of the corners. The tissue patches will form the foundation for paper patches to be applied later.


Hollytex is used as the temporary substrate between the board and the crate label and is also applied during the gelatin process.




Once the label had dried we then began prep. We were fully restoring this label to its former glory and so needed to recreate all four corners. The very thin paper like that of crate labels can be difficult to work with, partially because it is so delicate and partially because it is difficult to find appropriate paper to patch with. After searching through all our boxes of vintage paper I finally found the right kind of paper.

This photo was taken during prep, but before the paper patches had been added in.

After measuring out and tracing the corners I shave down the edges of the the areas that I will be patching so that it is easier to create a smooth surface to later paint on. I then use tracing paper to trace the shape of the patches that I need to cut.

This was taken after prep was finished.

After gluing in the patches I then sand down the edges of the join so that they are smooth and perfectly flat. 



Once I'm done in prep the guys in masking and airbrushing go to work. 


Gabe began by finding a reference and tracing out in blue pencil the text that we would be adding in at the bottom. 


Then they used tape and craft paper to cover the areas that weren't being airbrushed. The first part that we painted was the border area. This involved layering several different colors to recreate the look of a stone-litho. 
This is one of my favorite photos from this post because it shows all the layers of color built up during the original stone litho process.

After the border, both the larger dark border and the thin blue line that traces the edge of the border and the mountains, was done then we painted the mint ice cream colored sky. 


In addition to airbrushing we also added in certain details by hand, like those in the sunkist sunburst in the top right corner and the text at the bottom. 


Looking at the after image I think you'd be hard pressed to point out the areas that were restored if you hadn't seen all the previous images.  



Certain proprietary steps and procedures have been omitted. If you have any comments or ideas for things you would like to see us cover on our blog, please let us know! If you have further questions regarding other work or your pieces please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: http://www.postermountain.com and http://www.lapapergroup.com/. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog! Also for daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: please follow us @postermount on Twitter and postermountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, Los Angeles Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.





Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Recalcitrant Mucha (Part 5)

Alright, we are finally concluding our series on the Sarah Bernhardt American Tour poster designed by Alfonse Mucha. The last post covered airbrushing. This post will look at the final step in our restoration process which is detailing.


Detailing is pretty much just what it sounds like, putting details back in, but don't let that simple explanation fool you. Detailing is easy to overlook, but the process of putting minute design elements and pigments in by hand is time consuming and requires a great deal of patience. (We have spent numerous hours fixing bad restoration and it is a tribute to the skills of our team how often we are asked to fix poor restoration.)  

This is a great shot of Gabe doing detail work. All those areas of white will eventually be painted by hand.

Poster Mountain uses a combination of water color and colored pencils for detailing. The goal in detailing is to mimic the color, texture and design of the original. This often includes building up layers of color to give the look of the specific printing process and overlapping layers of ink. Additionally, ink patterns vary from type to type: for example offset lithographs have a different pattern than woodblock prints which are different from ink jet prints. This particular poster is a stone litho.

Its hard to see, but here Gabe is replicating a pattern in a light brown color on Sarah's sleeve.
  Detailing can be one of the most mentally draining parts of working on a poster because the area that you're working in is so small and fine that it is often taxing on both the eyes and the mind. Because of this our artists quite often need a break from looking at the same thing and will shift between projects or split the time with each other. Gabe and Ravi both worked on detailing this poster. Ravi in particular was very excited to get to work on it.


The photo below was a great shot because it is easy to see the tiny cracks in the ink that Ravi is detailing. There were small cracks and tiny areas of paper that needed to be addressed all over the poster. Cumulatively, Ravi and Gabe easily spent more than two days working on detail for this project.


However, the time finally came when every tear and detail had finally been addressed. It was time to cut the poster out of our frame and return her to the owners.



Just to remind you (because this has been a LONG series), this is what the poster looked like when she first arrived in our studio:


Here is a progress shot after the poster had been through conservation and was linen backed:


AND after all the prep, airbrushing and detail work was finished:

We are so proud of the work that our entire team did on this poster and hope the owners are just as happy!

Certain proprietary steps and procedures have been omitted. If you have any comments or ideas for things you would like to see us cover on our blog, please let us know! If you have further questions regarding other work or your pieces please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: http://www.postermountain.com and http://www.lapapergroup.com/. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog! Also for daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: please follow us @postermount on Twitter and postermountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, Los Angeles Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Recalcitrant Mucha (Part 4)

Picking up where we left off last week, the Sarah Bernhardt poster was through prep and headed to our restoration artists. I must admit that while I take hundreds of photos for most of the blog posts, the guys in the back are often hard to capture at work because they are a little camera shy. I usually have to sneak up on them from behind. (Ok, maybe I also like sneaking up on them and getting candid photos.)

Gabe, Aaron, Ravi and Pete all worked on this poster. Gabe began by sketching in the general areas of large patterns and noting color blocks that we would need to airbrush in.


Once he had a general idea of what needed to be done, Pete took over to mask for airbrushing. Airbrushing is generally how we cover large areas of paper evenly with color. This can mean applying uniform layers of one color, or layering multiple colors on top of each other to achieve a look similar to that of most printing processes.

Masking covers certain areas of a poster or print with paper, tape or acetate and leaves other areas open so that we can paint them without worrying about getting paint on the rest of the image. Masking takes a delicate touch, patience and a good eye in order to cut through tape and acetate without damaging the paper underneath.   


The background for the "American Tour" banner at the bottom of the poster was the first part  airbrushed, but I believe there were about 10 different rounds of masking and airbrushing on this poster.


Here Pete is putting his graphic design and artistic skills to use while comparing font and lettering.



Below are two of the best shots of one of the masks. Both photos give you a good idea of what a mask actually is. The majority of the poster is covered in a brown craft paper, then a low tack tape is used to cover the area closest to what is being airbrushed.





Aaron did most of the airbrushing on this piece, but Gabe got in on some of the action too.  The most difficult part to airbrush on this particular piece was the background, simply because it was big and because we were not only trying to match color but also the aged patine that the poster had acquired over time. 


Something that people don't often think about is how much lighting affects how we see color, but the next few photos taken while Aaron and Gabe were working on the background show how different the background looks from shot to shot.



In fact the background color was so difficult that Gabe asked John and Ravi to come give him a second opinion.

I loved this photo because Ravi turned just as I was snapping it.

One of the most dramatic parts as you're working on restoring a print, particularly of this size is seeing the reveal after another layer of paint has been added on. (At some point we'll do a series of photos that show just that transition, but Gabe and I are waiting for just the right project.)

Aaron removing one of the masks to show how much has been done and just how much is lefty to complete!

The background was the largest area that we had to airbrush, but other areas like those seen in the photo above were blocked in using airbrushing. The final touches, done by hand using colored pencils and water colors, are still to come! 


Next week will be the final blog post on this Sarah Bernhardt poster! All that's left are the details that we put in by hand, so check back soon for that update!


Certain proprietary steps and procedures have been omitted. If you have any comments or ideas for things you would like to see us cover on our blog, please let us know! If you have further questions regarding other work or your pieces please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: http://www.postermountain.com and http://www.lapapergroup.com/. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog! Also for daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: please follow us @postermount on Twitter and postermountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, Los Angeles Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.