Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Let's Talk About Framing

Let’s talk about framing. It is one of the more expensive aspects of owning art and most collectors have at least one frame that costs more than the art itself. Custom framing is always a good option and we’re happy to recommend one of the many framers that we work with who will fit your needs. However, today we’re going to talk about inexpensive frames and some pros/cons of DIY.

While many of us would love to be able to custom frame each piece, it is not really feasible for most of us. That’s where inexpensive pre-made frames come in. One of the things to look for first is the type of glass in the frame. We generally recommend plexiglass. In the event that the piece would fall,  it is less likely to break and scratch your art. Also, advances in technology have given us lots of different levels of UV protection. UV protection, however, may not be an option available in pre-made frames, but you should definitely opt for plexiglass if possible.

Another thing to be aware of is whether you need to add spacers, pieces of plastic or mat board which will keep your art from pressing up against the glass. In some cases, the media can be damaged over time if it is pressed against the glass.  Alternately the edges of the art can be discolored or worn by the spacers and spacers can also cause rippling of paper art because they can prevent the art from expanding evenly.

All materials that come into direct contact with your art should always be considered carefully such as mattes and backing boards. Matting can be bought pre-made for certain sizes and you should look for acid-free mat board to prevent damaging the paper underneath. Particularly you want to look for matting that is made out of 100% cotton rag and doesn’t have any wood content in the paper, but that information is often not difficult to come by. (These are also things to consider when you have a frame custom made as well, but a reputable framer should discuss all of these options with you.) Just as important as the matt is the backing coming into contact with the art, which should preferably be 100% cotton rag or acid-free minimally.

I want to caution any DIY-ers out there to stay away from using tape or glue on their artwork. It can go sideways very quickly. If you think that you need to float the work or attach it to a board in any way it is probably not a DIY frame project and you should contact a professional.

With those caveats, let's jump into some specifics to be aware of when you frame your own piece and how to prevent some common issues. I’m going to use one of the prints from my own collections as an example.


If you look carefully around her hat you can see the bugs that have invaded


This is a silkscreen from the wonderful Rob Schwager. (We did an interview with him a few years ago that you can find here.) At the time I got it I did not have the funds to have it custom framed, so I bought a premade frame and popped it in. That frame has lasted through several moves and apart from a few scratches is still in good condition. It does have glass and I’ve been careful with that during each move.

One of the issues I recently encountered with this frame was due to the back being unsealed. If you’ve ever had a frame made you will notice that the back is often sealed with kraft paper. This might not seem like such a big deal, but sealing the back helps keep out dust and more importantly insects. Insects like paper and more importantly they like to eat paper and certain media. This is why sealing the back of a frame is so important.

Unsealed back of my frame


Because if you don’t seal the back, this is what can happen:



Invaders! Caveat: you can still get bugs and dust inside of a frame even if it is sealed. Sealing the back just decreases the odds a bit.


I got lucky and only lost a tiny bit of ink from these little buggers (I’m reasonably sure they’re baby silverfish and I’m going to have to check the rest of my apartment for the grown ups.) If left too long they can eat through the paper completely. This little infestation was pretty easy to fix. After I removed the art from the frame I cleaned out the frame and did a dry cleaning on the silkscreen using a soot eraser.

Surface cleaning using a soot eraser.

Tiny bit of ink loss in the yellow.


People usually catch bug infestations if the art is up on the wall, but be careful when storing art. We often assume that it's perfectly safe in an attic or a warehouse, but bugs and environmental damage can happen quickly.

Print removed from the frame
Buggy leftovers stuck to the glass






One thing I noticed after removing the silkscreen from the frame was that the paper was beginning to warp a bit. This is caused by minor expansions and contractions in the paper due to changes in ambient conditions. I am not bothered by the minor distortions, but depending on the kind of print these planar distortions can be remedied using our gelatin flattening technique.

Planar distortion due to changes in humidity.


The rest of this post is going to give you some step by step instructions for sealing your own frames, a handy skill to have! You will need appropriately sized kraft paper, scissors, an exacto blade and double-sided tape. You may also need glazier points and the tool to insert them, or if you’re careful you can secure your art inside the frame using small nails and a hammer. BUT BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL and we generally would advise against this.


Basic tool you need to seal the back of a frame

Now onto sealing a frame.

Make sure to wipe the inside of the frame. Microfiber cloths are particularly good at getting small pieces of dust. Once the frame is clean and you’ve got a board behind it, you can use the glazier points to keep everything in place.

Art in frame, board holding art down and glazier points in. Double-sided tape around edges.


Measure out your craft paper, then place double-sided tape all the way around the back edges of the frame. Don’t forget to leave room for the hangers.




You may want a second pair of hands to help you place the kraft paper on evenly.

Sorry, the photo is terrible, but you get the idea!



Once that is done there are a few things to keep in mind when hanging your art. Be aware of the level of UV protection when you hang art on the wall. Direct sunlight is bad in general, but particularly if you don’t have any UV coating on the glass or plexi. Different kinds of pigments will react in different ways to light levels, so try to take this into account when hanging your work. Also be aware of moisture levels and temperature fluctuation. We advise against putting paper-based art in the bathroom or laundry room because the fluctuations in humidity can cause warping and also keeping it away from heating and air conditioning vents.

This blog is for informational purposes only. Poster Mountain is in no way responsible for how this information is put to use.

If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us. We will answer your questions to the best of our ability as conservators and restoration artists. We can also direct you to a professional framer we trust for more specific questions.

Additional questions regarding other work or your pieces, please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone 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 on Twitter @postermount and Poster Mountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, LA Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Gstaad Ski Poster

Hello, fellow poster lovers! This month's post is quite appropriate given the winter weather many of us are experiencing as we will be discussing a lovely ski poster. Travel posters of any kind have become more popular over the last year and ski/snow/winter sports seem to be a particular favorite of our clients.

This 1950's Swiss poster, from illustrator Martin Peikert, was in good condition... except it was missing the bottom two corners. Those two corners, particularly the left, were also the most detailed areas of the entire poster.

The poster before linen backing and restoration work began.


This isn't one of our biggest projects, but there is something so satisfying in these medium-sized projects. The turn around time gives us long enough to get to know the poster, but we don't get to a point where we're tired of looking at them.

For this poster, prep was pretty straightforward. After the poster had been linen backed, I cut out patches and mitered them into the holes, giving Gabe a flat surface to restore.


Gabe's first step was to figure out what the missing areas looked like. One of the hidden costs of restoration is often the research time. Sometimes this means a simple Google search, but often times we comb archives to find the right image and then spend time photoshopping that image to get the right scale for our artists to work from. (Sometimes we can't find any reference image at all, in those rare cases we work with the client to come up with the best solution.)


Once he has a reference, Gabe does a line drawing and breaks down the different areas into colors so that he knows how many masks he has to do for airbrushing and what can be accomplished by pencil and watercolor.


Airbrushing is one of the tools in our arsenal, although we always warn clients that it is not reversible. However, for lithographs like this poster airbrushing allows us to approximate the dot pattern of the original printing technique. And similar to how lithographs are printed, each color was painted separately and the layers all worked together to create different patterns.

First color! 
Freehanding the left side


























Gabe estimated that just for the small area in the left corner he did about 8 different colors and masks. Each color gets its own mask and then the colors are built up so that eventually the final result is as close to the original as possible.


Getting the larger shapes in

Getting the details just right!


With the sky painted, the left corner is done!

The final step was to silkscreen the missing text into the right corner.

Just a little blue ink... 

and tadaaa! 

And the final product:


So proud of our team! This poster is a great view of what we do every day and the final product looks awesome. If you love this poster it is still available to buy from our friends at Antik Bar in the UK: https://www.antikbar.co.uk

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! Additional questions regarding other work or your pieces, please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone 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 on Twitter @postermount and Poster Mountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, LA Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Small Tear in a VW Poster

Happy New Year! We hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and are well rested and ready to send us lots of exciting projects to blog about! 

Our first post of the year is about an integral aspect of our restoration process that we have mentioned, but never focused on: burnishing folds and tears. Detailing small tears and folds is part of the bread and butter of the restoration side of our business and burnishing makes adding pigment back in much easier. 

The poster we're working on is a German VW poster. The client was only concerned about one tear in the background right next to "bergfreudig".


Yes, I know. The tear is so small that you can't even see it in this photo.

 In order to restore the tear, we first needed to prep it.


The tools we use for this are: a burnishing tool, Methylcellulose, a small paint brush, hollytex and a small iron. There are a lot of different kinds of burnishing tools, but I prefer a teflon one because I can shape the angles I need and can work without scratching the surface I'm working on. Methylcellulose is a chemical compound that we mix with water to form a  clear viscous solution that is a very, very mild adhesive. We use Methycellulose to soften paper fibers so that they can be burnished back down. Hollytex is a polyester fabric that we use in many areas of conservation, but for prep we use it to protect the poster from pressure or heat and in this case specifically from the heat of an iron.
 
From left to right: Methylcellulose, burnishing tool, paint brush, hollytex and a small iron.

Methylcellulose when mixed correctly is very viscous and often just hangs from the brush without dripping.
 When burnishing tears like this, I apply a small amount of Methylcellulose along the lines of the tear, then use my burnisher to smooth the tear flat. The Methylcellulose acts as a gentle moisturizer/adhesive and so generally most paper fibers are flattened back into place with the help of the burnisher.  



A thin line of Methycellulose applied along part of the tear. I don't know about you but I'm getting tired of typing Methylcellulose.


To burnish means to polish something by rubbing it. For prep we want to polish the paper fibers back into place.
 The heat from the iron also helps set the paper fibers and with the hollytex as a protective layer the iron also acts a burnisher.

I've found that a small travel iron gives me the most control.
 I have often explained prep as not being able to see a difference in the paper, but to feel it. This makes showing you photos a tad silly, but I do think that the tear does look a little bit flatter now. And more to the point, the surface of the poster felt smooth.


The point of prep before restoration is to create as flat a surface as possible so that we can then seamlessly add pigment back in.

That's not even all of my greys.

 And in this case I used a combination of Prisma colored pencils to restore the tear.



 At the end of the day we try to balance the wishes of our clients with best industry practices. Restoration using colored pencils or watercolors can sometimes be seen if you know what you're looking for, but they can also be reversed if necessary. And if we've done our job, you definitely have to know what you're looking for.

This photo was taken from about 6 inches away.


Still can't see the tear, but now it has been prepped and detailed!
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! Additional questions regarding other work or your pieces, please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone 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 on Twitter @postermount and Poster Mountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, LA Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Controlled Destruction

We don't often suggest (metaphorically) taking a work of art down to the studs, or in this case down to the substrate, but this 1904 Colorado Midland Railway advertisement was an exception. This post focuses on the preparation and stabilization of a very unusual project.

Work after our gelatin process and temporarily mounted to a board. 

While it might appear that the majority of this advertisement is intact, huge sections of the paper were completely rotten. You can see in the images below where the mold that was eating the paper is visible. Essentially, the majority of the black background was slowly flaking off.

The white area is where the mold had eaten away at the ink and if you touched it the top layer of paper would flake off.

Another example of an area where the paper was rotting away can be seen below. Almost all of the area above the figure is disintegrating due to the water damage. 

In this area, not only was the top layer beginning to fall off, but the texture of the paper was becoming pitted. 

 I don't know how but the images in this were mostly intact and it was just the black background that was in danger of flaking away at the slightest touch. So, we made a decision to strip the rotten background paper away.


I used an Exacto knife to gently score the top layer of paper around the image. Then I began to scrape the top layer of paper away using a specially shaped and sharpened palette knife. We saved all of the images and focused on removing the moldy background paper.

Slightly less than halfway through the process of stripping away the top layer of paper. As extreme as this option is, I must admit to really enjoying removing the rotten paper. 
I eventually began to save the bits I scraped off just so I could see how much we were removing. 



This side was more intricate since we were very focused on saving the image. 


Once the top layer of paper was removed, I then patched in a new layer of paper. Sorry, I don't have any photos of that process since I'm the one taking photos and I sometimes forget to photograph myself!


Layers of tracing paper to get the exact shape of paper patch to put back in that top layer of paper. 

The other issue we encountered with this project was the tear running through the poster. I glued everything back together, but that didn't make the poster flat enough for Gabe to airbrush. 

The large tear before I began working on it.

It took multiple attempts in conservation to get this project mounted onto a board and flat. Even after that this tear still needed a lot of work.

This was one of the few parts where the image was damaged. 

So I used a compound made in part from the paper that we had stripped away previously to fill in the crack. I essentially whisked together a custom-made spackle specifically for this poster. It takes a couple rounds of filling, drying and sanding to get it flat. However, I eventually had the fracture flat enough to put a paper patch over it.

Beginning the process of filling, sanding and refilling this tear. 


Close up shot of the filled tear before I put a paper patch over it.


After that, Gabe masked off and painted the background and detailed the few areas of damage in the image. The final step was to silkscreen in the text at the bottom of the piece and VOILA! 




 I just want to add that this project in particular required a LOT of effort that wasn't documented in this blog. It is an extreme example of what we do and we discuss all of the options and what would be involved with the client.

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! Additional questions regarding other work or your pieces, please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone 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 on Twitter @postermount and Poster Mountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, LA Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.