Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Another Folding Screen (Part 2)

Part 1 ended with this section of the screen drying after being backed to a piece of Okawara paper.
Paper mounts at first glance are deceptively simple, because it just seems like gluing one thing to another. However, the amount of moisture that is applied to the backing and the piece itself (as with just about any paper conservation process) is key. John told me the story of how many years ago one time he had over wet the Okawara backing for a rare, mint condition poster while mounting it. A few days later, as the paper contracted while drying, it ripped and tore diagonally across the poster taking an entire corner section off. (Now you also see why we let things dry for several days before we begin restoration or release them to clients.) They were able to fix it and make the poster look perfect again, but the moral of that story was that even when something looks like it is going to be easy, things can go horribly wrong.

Fortunately, nothing went wrong with this screen and we were able to remove it from the board without any drama. (We had about 700 photos to go through for this blog and it is heavy on the images this week, but I just couldn't resist.)

Pictured: Here Melissa is using the big spatula to cut the Okawara backing away from the melamine board.

We always have multiple projects going at once, but while we were working on this screen project we were also mounting one of the largest billboard posters we have ever done. That's it in the background, a massive 7 UP poster from '69 called the Uncola Butterfly. It made a very colorful background for several of these photos, so I thought it would be fun to include it.

Pictured: We purposefully mounted the 7 UP poster upside down so that we could reach the areas that needed restoration without climbing onto scaffolding, which I personally dislike but will do for the sake of art.

Pictured: John, hiding behind one of the other pieces that we did.

The excess Okawara was cut off, leaving just enough of the paper backing to make it easy for Melissa to trim it precisely along the original edge of the screen.

Pictured: The green strip is part of a large cutting mat and this allows us to make clean, precise cuts.

The edges of each piece probably started off straight, but over time as the paper dried, small bits have flaked away leaving a pretty wavy border for Melissa to follow when she was slicing away the Okawara.

Pictured: I have mentioned before that we all have special tools that we have shaped for our preferences, but we even have our own Exacto knives with color specific grips.

Because the sections had already been backed, which addressed the original tearing, Melissa decided that it was overkill to put glue on the entire piece to reattach it to the frame. Only applying a thin border of glue also minimized the risk that any change in humidity would cause the piece to warp again because it would allow  the paper a certain amount of flexibility.

Pictured: The wood and paper frame before we glue it up and put the screen back together.

Katie and I helped Melissa keep the glue off the adjoining sections by holding strips of plexiglass over them.

Pictured: Here. I'm using a strip of plexiglass to protect the other section from getting glue on it.

Pictured: I had to include this one because everyone in it is smiling! I've figured out that there is generally a few hours during the middle of the day when we smile more, but early morning and late afternoon are not good times to capture smiling faces.

Pictured: Here is a close up so that you can see the thin layer of glue around the edge of the frame.

Once the outer area was covered in glue we then positioned each piece, making sure that the overlapping images and the silk edging lined up.

Pictured: Fortunately for us the glue is not fast drying so we don't have to rush through the process of lining everything up.

Pictured: Because we didn't have to rush we were able to make small adjustments to get the section lined up just right.

Pictured: And with just about everything we do, when we are smoothing it out we start from the middle and work our way out.

To hold the piece in place and make sure that it fully adhered to the frame, we lined it with strips of plexiglass. These help us maintain an even distribution of weight across the area, especially when we have to spread out the weights across a larger area like this.

Pictured: Melissa and I laying down the plexiglass strips and weights.

As many of you know we maintain a very large database of images, both for our reference and for our clients. We take before and after photos as well as progress photos. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we took 700 photos for this one project. However, when choosing the 30 or so photos that would be included in this blog, I realized that we hadn't managed to take an after photo. Part of that was because it is so big, it won't fit in our photography studio and so we have to climb up onto a ladder to get decent photos. This is a hassle because the girls, including myself, loath climbing up the ladder and so that leaves the task to John. Well, once it was finished it was folded up and stored out of the way for the client to come collect it and we just never got an after photo. We have asked the owner to send us one and we'll update the post if they do. But for now, this is our final photo. However, as you can see there were huge improvements in the tears after it was backed.

Pictured: Our final, not exactly glamorous, glamor shot.

It should be noted that several crucial steps in our process have been omitted. If you have any questions please 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!


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