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.
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!
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