Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hanging Rod Treatment and Part 2 of our Black Pirate Serial

Once again we are doing a two-fold post. The first part is about an alternative to framing a poster. The second is the continuation, but not the conclusion, of our Black Pirate project.

As most collectors know framing a poster looks good, but it can be expensive. However, framing is not always the best option so Poster Mountain offers our hanging rod treatment which is an inexpensive alternative. We only use this treatment on posters that have been linen backed because the linen provides a flexible base.

Gabe starts out with long sections of half round and square molding that he cuts down to the specific width of the poster.

Pictured: The poster we were putting rods on is an Italian James Bond Poster.

Pictured: Gabe goes by the old adage "measure twice, cut once" so he is double checking the measurements.
 Once he has all the measurements, he starts cutting. Power tools make me nervous, but Gabe is a pro. (Although if anyone has an extra sawhorse that they are not using, we would be happy to put it to use. Gabe has been improvising since ours were drafted into service to create an extra work surface.)

Pictured: Gabe cutting through the molding, while Aaron braces it for him.
After all the individual pieces are cut, Gabe fits the round molding and the square piece together with the top of the poster sandwiched in between. Aaron again helps to brace the wood, while Gabe uses a nail gun to secure the two pieces of wood together to the poster. The nails don't go through the poster itself, we left a large border of linen and paper around the poster specifically so that we wouldn't damage the poster.

Pictured: Gabe positioning the front half of what is about to become a hanging rod.

Pictured: Now the back.

Pictured: Aaron bracing the two pieces so that neither move while Gabe uses a nail gun to secure everything in place.

The last step is to put the hanging brackets on. Since this is a larger piece, Gabe put one on each end to make it easier to hang neatly.

Pictured: Gabe drilling a hole before screwing in the bracket.

Pictured: A small bracket on each end and the poster will hang from two nails or hooks in the wall.

Gabe did the same thing to the bottom of the poster so that it was weighted down enough to hang straight.

Pictured: Gabe and Chelsea demonstrating how it will work.
We would not recommend this treatment for every poster, but for many its a great option. However, if you have small children or animals, this might not be the best option since it does not protect the poster from claws or crayons. For this project, the client wanted a very simple wood, pine, I think, but depending on the available molding options there is a lot of room to customize these hanging rods. We actually just did a cherry stain on the hanging rods for another client that looks very elegant.

So, now that you have an inexpensive option for hanging posters, on to part 2 which is the continuation of our Black Pirate project!

We left off with our poster in a multitude pieces after having been removed from layers of adhesive, cheese cloth and a wood board. (Here is a quick link back to the last Black Pirate blog: http://postermountain.blogspot.com/2012/01/couple-of-crates-and-beginnings-of.html)

A lot of the pieces we were not salvageable. They were just too small or too damaged, but the pieces we were able to save were temporarily mounted to a sheet of hollytex. The larger pieces were put to the side while Lindsay and John worked to turn the small puzzle pieces into bigger puzzle pieces.

Pictured: The border and words were not mounted to hollytex because where they went was pretty obvious. They were pieced in later. 

Pictured: The interior of the poster was in the worst shape, so this was the part that was temporarily mounted to hollytex.

Once these pieces that were mounted had dried, they were cut free and the process of putting it back together as a whole began. The hollytex was trimmed close to the edges of the pieces and then once Lindsay was sure of where they were supposed to go we taped them together. (Yes, I know. We have on several occasions mentioned how bad tape is. But in this instance it was a necessary evil because we needed something to hold the pieces together during the mounting process.)  The tape was on the hollytex and never came into contact with the poster itself, so once again: don't put tape on your posters or pieces of art! Anyway...

Pictured: The pieces that were mounted on hollytex were not in the right places, so they were cut down to make it easier to get the spacing correct.

Pictured: Lindsay trimming away some of the hollytex.

Pictured: Lindsay prepping the pieces to be temporarily mounted face down by taping them into position.

They were still attached to a hollytex at this point, so they were mounted face down. This allowed us to put everything together in such a way that we would be able to then remove the hollytex from the back and then remount the poster onto masa and linen. Now, how we actually did this is a Poster Mountain secret. It does involve our isinglass technique, but all we'll show you is the beginning. You get to imagine the rest.

Pictured: Lindsay wetting down the poster. This is why the tape was necessary, so that the pieces would stay together on the slippery surface of the table.

Pictured: The poster mounted face down. The tape was then removed.

Now, I'm adding a "but" here because the early photos of the project were only for our records. Then the project was put on hold for several months. During that time Chelsea and I came on board and the blog was started. Black Pirate went through prep and had paper added to the areas that were missing, which was a lot. Antonia put in paper patches, but it was still lacking chunks of the image. Katie began to sketch in the areas that were missing using water colors. This is where the "but" comes into play. At the time that we began to work on Black Pirate again, we weren't doing a blog. So we are don't have photos of the prep work and the beginning of restoration. But this project is cool enough that we decided to use it anyway. Take my word for it that watching Katie fill in the missing sections was amazing. I would look up every couple of minutes and there was something new. So, we are leaving you with one final image. This was taken after Katie had filled in the background and Aaron had airbrushed the black.

Pictured: A progress photo of Black Pirate.

Its a pretty amazing transformation thus far, but its not finished yet! You'll have to check back over the next couple of weeks to see the conclusion of this project!

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 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!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

By popular demand... A Lost Silkscreen

PROVISO: Each poster is a special case requiring specialized methods. We do tests on each piece before we begin working. We do this for a living, we are professionals. You absolutely must never ever ever try this at home. Okay? Okay let's go.

 This week we are going to repair a Tyler Stout "Lost" silkscreen that was damaged in shipping. It happens every so often that a poster is shipped in a weak tube and the tube gets folded or crushed or, God forbid, rained on during shipping. A poster is ruined and a lesson is learned. Except we can fix that poster. This particular case calls for the John Davis-innovated Isinglass Gelatin Backing Technique.

Here is our silkscreen. Unfortunately in this photo the business of the image conceals the degree of messed-up-itude which I assure you is indeed disturbing. When the light hits from an angle the damage is very distracting.

Pictured: "Lost" silkscreen by Tyler Stout

These photos were posted here by the owner, with a plea for help. Here you can see the damage clearly.

John began by washing the print. Since water causes paper to expand, it is important to make sure both sides of the paper expand at the same rate. This will prevent cracking the printing ink or warping the paper's structural integrity. We have already tested the ink to make sure it will not be affected by the water. While many types of printing ink are water soluble, they also contain a  plastic co-solvent that ensures resistance to water.

Here the front has been wet down but the back is still dry. Much of the image is visible through the paper.
Rinsing the back..
Once the poster is thoroughly wet and malleable, John massages the paper to loosen up the fibers. Once the poster is mounted to a flat board and begins to dry, the fibers will mesh and fuse together properly.

John uses his fingers to look for dents in the paper. In many situations your hands are more reliable than your eyes.

The excess water is then pushed out with a squeegee and the poster is now ready for the isinglass gelatin treatment. 

John innovated the gelatin technique as an alternative to linen backing. You can read more about how it's done here.

Once the print has been coated in gelatin and adhered to a sheet of hollytex, a sheet of mylar is laid over it and it is transferred to a clean, flat melamine board. All the air bubbles and excess gelatin are squeegeed out, the mylar is replaced with a second sheet of hollytex and the whole sandwich is left to dry and cure for about twenty-four hours.

 John lifts the Mylar, print and hollytex sandwich off the wet table...

...and moves them over to the melamine board.
He removes the mylar at an angle so that the print doesn't lift off with it.
And now we let it dry.

Sweet flatness. 

Adding another sheet of hollytex on top as an extra flattening precaution.
Once the silkscreen has dried, John uses a long, very thin and sharp spatula to separate each layer.

Removing the hollytex from the back of the print. Notice he pulls the hollytex backward rather than upward to ensure the paper won't tear.

 Tah-dah! Flat as a dream, no evidence of it's former woes. 
We are incredibly happy with the result of this project. The silkscreen looks as good as new.

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 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!

An aside: This print is an example of a popular resurgence in contemporary silkscreens. Studios like Mondo, Alien Corset, New Flesh and Malleus are designing original alternatives to the posters issued by movie studios. One reason for this phenomenon is that we are in a time when most posters are designed by lawyers and financiers rather than artists, resulting in what might be called a certain dull sameness. Another reason is the unavailability and prohibitive costs of great original vintage posters.  Here are some of our favorite new silkscreens: 

Rosemary's Baby by New Flesh
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage by Malleus
Dracula by Martin Ansin

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A couple of crates and the beginnings of a serial

We have a two part blog this week. The first part is about building crates for two works of art that were being shipped across the country. The second is about a project that has been in the works for years... You'll have to read the first half the blog to find out what it is.

So, on to part one! While Poster Mountain and LA Paper Group are conservation and restoration studios, we are happy to consult on anything that is poster/paper related, which is how we ended up working on this project. A client brought in two framed pieces of art work that were being shipped across the country, but he was leery of just putting them in a cardboard box. We generally ship posters out in tubes, but since these pieces were framed that was not an option. So John told him that we (we meaning Gabe, our resident handyman and power tool expert) could build individual crates for each piece. It was an added bonus that the two pieces were really cool. One  is original art and the other is an artist's proof, both by the well known illustrator Drew Struzan. (Struzan has created recognizable works for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as numerous other movies, so this was even cooler for most of us than getting to hold a Picasso.)

Pictured: The Thing, art by Drew Struzan.

Pictured: Creature from the Black Lagoon, art by Drew Struzan.
 One of the pieces was framed with plexiglass, but the other one was framed with real glass. Shipping a piece that is framed with glass is obviously more difficult because of the fragile nature. Our solution to this was to build the crates with enough room that we could line them and wrap each piece in bubble wrap. Gabe began by building the sides of the crate out of  2 by 4s. He created a square frame from four pieces of wood and used screws to secure each corner.

Pictured: Gabe had already assembled 3 of the sides by the time we came in to take pictures.

Pictured: The sides of the frame are clamped down so that they don't move while Gabe puts in the screws.
Pictured: Gabe with power tools!
Next he cut out a piece of plywood that formed the bottom of the crate and screwed that in to place. 

Pictured: Gabe is cool enough to wear his sunglasses inside, but he is also putting safety first and using them as safety goggles.

Pictured: Gabe screwing in the bottom of the crate.

Pictured: One crate, made to order!
After the sides and bottom were ready to go, the next step was to add in insulation. Gabe cut a foam panel and glued it to the inside of the crate to act as a shock absorber. 

Pictured: Foam panel before Gabe glues it in.

Pictured: Gabe using gorilla glue to add foam panels to the sides.
Once the crate was ready to go we began to prep the piece for shipping. This included taping the glass so that if it did break the tape would prevent the glass from damaging the art. Gabe added another layer of foam inside the frame on top of the reinforced glass, too. We then wrapped the whole piece in bubble wrap. We were not taking any risks with these two pieces.

Pictured: Gabe laying strips of tape across the glass.

Pictured: Gabe taping down a piece of foam on top of the glass.

Pictured: Yet another layer, sealing it inside plastic as an additional precaution.

Pictured: The framed piece next to the crate.
Pictured: Gabe taping the edges of the bubble wrap to the frame.

Pictured: Just to give you an idea, we used all of the bubble wrap that was laid out on the table in the last photo.
Pictured: Art work and frame completely encased in bubble wrap.
 The last step before sealing the crate was to add a little more padding of bubble wrap around the edges and one more layer of foam to on top of all that. Then the lid was nailed into place and it was ready to go.

Pictured: Gabe gently placing the piece inside the crate.

Pictured: For both crates that we built there were 3 layers of foam paneling and about 20 feet of bubble wrap.
Pictured: Gabe placing the last piece of foam on top.

Pictured: The lid of the crate clamped into place before Gabe seals it.

Pictured: Gabe securing the lid with screws.

Pictured: Voila! Ready to be shipped, with lots of warnings written all over it.
Gabe did the same thing to make the second crate, although slightly smaller. The larger one ended up weighing about 70 lbs and the smaller one about 50 lbs. Something that heavy and with such special instructions, they could not be turned on the side and we advised that nothing be put on top of them, the only way to ship them was through freight.
Now on to part 2!
The second part of this week's blog is a project that is still in progress. It is a Douglass Fairbanks "Black Pirate" one sheet. John had been putting this project off for years because it is one of the most difficult pieces that he has ever agreed to work on. It was mounted to a wooden board with cheesecloth sandwiched in between and more types of adhesive than John had ever seen used at once. However, Lindsay, John's last administrative assistant, left at the end of May to go back to school and she wanted this to be her last project. 

Pictured: The poster came to us mounted on a thin wooden board, with cheesecloth as a substrate and more types of adhesive than is plausible.
Pictured: The cheesecloth underneath the poster is visible through the small tears in the poster.

Pictured: The poster was tearing and lifting off in places and wrinkling in others.

Pictured: The poster was lifting off of the cheesecloth along the edges and the cheesecloth was lifting off of the board along the edges.

Pictured: The poster was delaminating around the edges, although getting the rest of it off was a monstrous feat.

Step one was demounting the poster from both the cheesecloth and the board. John and Lindsay used a steamer and a special soap to dissolve the water soluble adhesive, but this still left a lot of adhesive. They eventually had to take the poster off of the board in pieces, removing each piece by sliding a spatula underneath it and slicing it away from the adhesive. The entire process of demounting took the whole day. They also cracked the glass top on one of our wet mount tables when the steamer was left on it too long. 

Pictured: Lindsay removing a piece with a very sharp spatula.

Pictured: Lindsay working on removing each piece carefully. The pieces that had already been removed were placed on sheets of hollytex.

Pictured: Lindsay making progress. More of the pieces are laying on the table behind her.

Pictured: Lindsay pulling off one of the bigger chunks of poster that they were able to get off.

Pictured: All the tiny little pieces that would have to be put back together again.

Pictured: A detail of one of the pieces that was removed from the board.

Pictured: This is the board after John and Lindsay removed as much of the poster as possible.

Pictured: A great detail of the cheesecloth, tape and glue mess left on the board after the poster was demounted.

Pictured: I made this image extra large so you can see the chip missing out of the glass and the crack running right through the center that happened when they left the steamer sitting directly on the glass for too long.

After all of the pieces were removed from the board the next step was to put it back together. Not as simple as it sounds. John and Lindsay basically had a giant puzzle on their hands. 

Pictured: All of the smaller pieces laying on pieces of hollytex.  At this point everything is still wet.

Pictured: The larger pieces beginning to be put together on a sheet of hollytex.
Putting the pieces of this poster back together was a multi-step process and you'll have to check back next week to see how John and Lindsay did it! 

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 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!