Friday, November 18, 2011

A Focus on Restoration

Most of the previous blogs have focused on the conservation side of our work here at Poster Mountain. Depending on how damaged a poster is and the kind of look a client wants, some posters never go to our restoration department. Most, however, receive at least a little bit of restoration. Others get more attention, especially when there is a lot of paper missing or damage to the image.

The poster that is the topic of this week's blog is a World War I recruitment poster from 1917. The poster was only partially complete mounted to a board and was missing a large section at the top. It should read, "Join the Air Force and Serve in France". 

Pictured: Image before conservation and restoration work began.
Robin and John carefully removed the poster from the board, washed and then mounted the poster to linen before it was sent to restoration. Antonia had a considerable amount of prep work to do because we had to add back in about a 1/4 of the paper.

Just a quick side note about our paper, we have been collecting old posters that were not valuable or could not be salvaged for years. Pieces of these old posters are used to fix and repair other posters. We are always accepting paper donations.

Antonia seamlessly joins paper patches to the original paper, making airbrushing and detailing that much more beautiful thanks to her wonderful prep work. She also smooths down any fold lines and fills any minor holes in the paper.

Pictured: Antonia adding in paper to the top of the poster where the words "Join the Air Force and.." will be added in. This is also a great shot across our studio space. Posters piled everywhere!

Pictured: Antonia working on the seam between the poster and the paper addition.

After Antonia has finished with her prep work, the poster then heads over to Gabe. He does a little bit of everything around here. Gabe does the masking for the airbrushing and finds references for any images that we don't already have a reference for. Using a combination of 3M tape along with acetate and spray adhesive, Gabe covers the parts of the poster that don't need airbrushing and cuts out the areas that do need it. He makes sure that the lettering is the correct size and font before beginning work and finds all of the images and cuts out the masks for these. Some of them can become quite intricate. We only had to add in the words at the top for this poster, relatively simple in comparison to some of the other projects Gabe has masked.

Pictured: Gabe finding and sizing the reference for the top of the poster.
Pictured: Gabe making sure that the reference is the correct size before he begins to mask off areas.
Pictured: Gabe has covered all of the areas but the lettering. You can see a slight shine across the surface of the paper that has been covered with acetate.The only areas that remain exposed are the added text which are now ready for paint.

Once Gabe has finished masking, the poster then goes to Aaron for airbrushing. Aaron mixes all of the colors, working slowly and methodically to build up layers that are true to the original color.

Pictured: Aaron mixing the color for the words "Join the Air Force".
Pictured: Its hard to see on the white paper, but Aaron is airbrushing in the words "Join the Air Force".

Aaron does multiple layers of each color, allowing time for each one to dry in between, so that the color becomes opaque. Once he has finished all the layers for one color, the mask is then removed and Gabe adds the next mask, this time for the red background color at the top. He covered all the words, including those that Aaron had just completed.

Pictured: Aaron beginning to airbrush in the red background color.

Pictured: Aaron has done multiple layers of the red and pays special attention to the seam between the old and new paper. You can also see the shine on the acetate that covers the rest of the poster particularly well in this photo.

Pictured: The poster after Aaron has finished the red. You can see all of the over-spray and testing that Aaron did on the borders to make sure that he had the right color and that the compressor and hose were running smoothly before spraying the actual poster.
Once Aaron finished airbrushing the red he had to remove the mask over the letters. This is always fun to see because the poster begins to come together as a complete piece as each bit of tape is removed and more of the poster is revealed.

Pictured: Aaron removing the protective masking from the words that he had airbrushed earlier. This can be a very delicate operation because you don't want to harm the paper/pigment covered by the tape or the newly airbrushed color.

Pictured: The poster before it was sent to Melissa for the last of the detail work. Aaron did a beautiful job!

After the poster is through airbrushing and the mask is removed it is sent to Melissa or Katie for detailing. Melissa worked on this particular poster.  For most of the projects we use water colors and water color pencils for the detail work. There were just a few small areas that needed attention. The background area of this poster had a lot of mix of colors in the blue and red. Melissa has an amazing eye for detail and did a great job blending in the restoration with the original.

Pictured: Melissa working on a small area of the rock behind the soldier. You can see another area that she has already worked on in the lower right corner of the poster.

Pictured: Melissa working on another detail and you can see the small hole in the blue to the left that she also restored.

Pictured: Most of our results in restoration are achieved by layering. Melissa blends colors to create a foundation upon which to build up layers to achieve the desired result.
Detailing is the final step in the restoration process. After that the poster is ready to be photographed for the final time and then sent to the client. The red background made this particular project very dramatic and the completed poster looks beautiful! 

It should be noted that several crucial steps in our process have been omitted. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: and Also, please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Magic History Conference 2011

On Friday, November 11th, John presented at the 12th annual Magic History Conference at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood. This conference is one of the most prestigious magic conferences and John was so thrilled to be invited to talk. John and I spent several days working on a presentation that included an introductory speech and a power point presentation. We have recorded John reading this speech and converted the power point into a movie to make it easier to take in the presentation as a whole. Please forgive us if the sound and some of the transitions are not perfect, we are still learning how to record clean sound and make movies.  All of the images are from our database and all are projects that we worked on. The focus is on magic posters, but John covers everything from advertising to war. We have also included the individual photos down at the bottom for you to look through at your leisure. We hope you enjoy this sample of Poster Mountain's work.






























If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: and