Friday, October 9, 2015

Recalcitrant Mucha (Part 3)

 Last week's blog covered the linen backing and the removal of the facing holding this delicate Sarah Bernhardt poster together. This week's post will look at the prep work necessary in order for our restoration artists to do such an amazing job. For those of you new to our work, prep work is the preparation needed before we add image back in. This can mean stabilization of tears, dealing with creases and folds or in the case of this particular piece filling in areas and holes where paper is missing. And as you can see from the photo below, there are some rather significant chunks missing from this print. (Although we have seen and fixed worse!)

Progress photo taken after linen backing, but before any restoration work started
We have boxes and boxes of vintage posters and pieces of paper. Paper comes in varying thicknesses, colors and styles, so we try to find the most appropriate paper for each piece that we patch. 

Jairo and I worked on prepping this piece together. (Jairo is a young, up and coming artist and you can follow his Instagram account Jairopersona for a peek at his work)  The overall goal of prep work is to create a smooth surface for the restoration artists to work on so that after background, image and small details are added in you can't tell the difference between original and patched areas.

 In order to patch a hole with paper we miter the edges of both paper and patch before gluing the patch in, this helps us to get a smoother surface. Additionally we sand and smooth the patch so that the join, while still visible, is seamless to touch. 

These two shots were taken after we had glued in the paper patches, but before we had begun smoothing them out so that the edges of patch and poster were flat

For medium to large holes we are able to use paper, but for smaller holes and cracks like the ones you can see in the image below we use a filling compound which we smooth and sand flat once it is dry.

A corner and small cracks that have yet to be filled with a textured compound.
We got some good detail shots during prep, but I particularly like this one of Mucha's printed signature down at the bottom of the print.

The paper of this print was reasonably thick. So while some cracks could be neatly patched with a filling compound, the larger or deeper cracks were harder to fill with just a paper patch or filling compound alone and get a smooth surface. Instead we built up a combination of thinner paper with an additional layer of filler on top to get the appropriate surface. 

Showing Jairo how to build up layers in particularly difficult cracks.

This particular crack was just below the overlap of the two panels that made up this poster and it extended all the way across the print.


We spent an inordinate amount of time prepping this piece, but one thing that we did discover during the process was that there probably was large amount of gold paint applied over other pigments or mixed in with the inks in some areas. Its hard to see and extremely faded now, but originally this poster would have been quite shiny! Below is a great detail of the most badly damaged area after we had finished patching and filling all the areas that needed some TLC.

We've got a few more posts about this lovely lady to go, but tune in next week to see her go through masking and airbrushing in the first layers of restoration.

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! If you have further questions regarding other work or your pieces please 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! Also for daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram will, as the name implies feature predominately posters: please follow us @postermount on Twitter and postermountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, Los Angeles Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

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