Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Mucha Masterpiece at Poster Mountain Episode 2

When we left you on that cliff hanger, the Mucha was coming off of the facing. The best way to proceed when issues like this develop is to start out with the mildest and simplest solutions. So, our first step was to try spraying it with water and see if that would allow the paper to relax and re-adhere to the facing. It didn't.

Pictured: Just a reminder of where we left off on the last post, the poster had lost contact with the facing in several places and was lifting up creating a large air bubble here.

We then decided to try applying a layer of our isinglass gelatin treatment, however, we discovered what may have been the root of the original problem when we did this. I think I have written before about how the isinglass gelatin technique that John developed works like starch on shirt collars in that it tightens up all of the fibers of the paper, but once it dries it does not leave behind any residue. The varnish that covered the front of the piece would not let the gelatin penetrate through it, so applying more to the top did nothing to solve our problem because it couldn't soak through the whole poster.

Finally we decided that our only option was to redo the facing before the poster had a chance to dry.  This can be dangerous to a piece that is in such fragile condition after having been demounted from its foundation layers. If allowed to dry without solid contact to the facing it could curl off in pieces, ripping itself to shreds. John's experience of more than 20 years doing conservation work comes in handy and he delicately manipulated the poster during the second facing without causing undo damage.

To do this we had to wet the entire poster, front and back, again. Then to keep everything in place John peeled back the hollytex half way, reappled the special sauce, laid the hollytex back down and then did the same to the other half. This time we were very liberal with our solution and covered the entire poster to make sure that it soaked all the way through and that the varnish didn't hamper the process again.

Pictured: John checking the varnish on top before applying the voodoo sauce to reapply the facing.

Pictured: The hollytex is translucent when wet so that you can see the poster through it after the facing was reapplied.

Once the facing was reapplied to the front of the poster, it went back to the melamine board to dry. John did decide not to take any risks this time around and applied sheets of hollytex to the back, the same way that he did the facing. The pieces of hollytex on the back are gas permeable, allowing the poster suspended between the pieces of hollytex to dry at a more reasonable rate. The hollytex on the back also kept it from separating from the hollytex on the front just in case. 

Pictured: It's a flying Mucha! John and Gabe are trying to wrangle it back onto the melamine board with the newly redone facing.

Pictured: The Mucha before John applied hollytex to the back as a temporarily solution to the heat and the varnish working against us.

The next morning the poster was still flat against the facing and dry, so we started to remove the hollytex from the back. Here I get to introduce Poster Mountain's newest employee, Melissa. Since we already have one Melissa we have taken to calling her Junior. She graduated last year from California State University Northridge with a Fine Arts degree and we are thrilled to have her on the team. Here she is debuting by pulling off the first piece of the hollytex on the back of our Mucha. It is important to keep it as flat against the piece as possible so that you don't separate it from the facing.

Pictured: Junior starting to pull the hollytex off the back of the Mucha. It is only temporarily mounted to the back, so as long as it it done slowly and gently it does not harm the piece.

And, as with removing the linen, the edges are the most nerve wracking because they are usually the most fragile part of the poster. 

Pictured: Junior very carefully removing the hollytex from the ragged borders.

Once the hollytex was removed from the back we separated the facing from the melamine board and then trimmed down the excess hollytex so that we didn't have to deal with it during the linen backing process. 

Pictured: John wielding his knife thin spatula like a boss to separate the hollytex facing from the board. 

Pictured: Me trimming down the hollytex because otherwise it would be covered in glue when we mounted the piece and we wouldn't be able to pull it off the front, not exactly what we want.

While John and I finished trimming the extra hollytex off of the border, Junior and Robin prepared the linen and Masa on the stretcher frames.

Pictured: Robin and Junior spreading the Masa substrate on the linen.

John and Junior then wet down the poster. I know that it seems like we have rinsed this poster a ridiculous number of times, however, when we put glue on the back it introduces enough moisture that the piece could warp if the whole thing isn't evenly wet. Once the glue was spread over the back of the poster, John then mounted it to the linen backing. .

Pictured: John encouraging Junior while she sprays down the Mucha. It seems simple, but it can be very intimidating the first few times you start getting a piece of delicate paper wet.

Pictured: Here John is showing Junior the best way to spread glue over the delicate areas where there is paper loss or cracks.

Pictured: I hope Sarah doesn't mind being upside down as John starts to settle the poster into place to linen back it.

Pictured: John squeegeeing out any air bubbles and making sure that the whole poster is evenly adhered to the substrate.

Once the poster was mounted, it was left to cure for several days before we began the restoration. From the picture below you can see that the facing is still on it. In the next post we will show you what happened when we removed that. We encountered something we didn't expect with the facing, but you'll just have to check back tomorrow to see what happened!

Pictured: The Mucha drying with the facing still on.

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 Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog!

1 comment:

  1. Việc sử dụng những mẫu in poster sáng tạo, mang đến thông điệp, mục đích rõ ràng hơn. Do vậy việc dịch vụ in ấn là cần thiết, bắt mắt, sáng tạo sẽ đem lại một hình ảnh tốt đến người xem.