Friday, May 13, 2016

Cacao... Coco... Chocolate! (Part 1)

Our next series of blog posts will feature the conservation and restoration of a vintage poster for one of  France's oldest chocolate brands: Le Cacao Poulain, which translates into English as the Chocolate Colt. (The icon of this company is usually a jumping colt  and appears to play off of  founder Victor-August Poulain's last name.) 

The vintage poster our client brought us dates from the late 19th century.  It was mounted to a foam core board and had some previous restoration. 


Step 1 was to get the poster off the board or more accurately get the board off the poster. John and Jairo began by chipping away at the board, layer by layer. 

Once the board was off the poster there were still several additional layers to remove. The linen that the poster was on was also mounted to Chartex, which is a fabric lining applied with a heat activated wax-based adhesive. We first removed the Chartex, using a heat gun, iron and some will power.   

We then moved the poster over to our mounting tables, wet both the front and the back then applied a hollytex facing using our isinglass gelatin process. The facing would temporarily adhere to the front of the poster, keeping it relatively stable while we removed the linen from the back.

Watching John manipulate posters and art on our tables is one of the coolest things to see! 

This is a layer of hollytex, a gas permeable paper, that has been placed on the front of the poster to act as support while we demount it. 

Here John is applying the isinglass gelatin to the hollytex and allowing it to soak through to the poster.

After the facing was applied to the front the poster was flipped over so that the back was exposed. It was temporarily mounted to a large melamine board for increased stability.

The poster is now face down with the hollytex acting as a supporting layer between the poster and the melamine board.

We placed smaller sheets of hollytext on top so that the poster could "stew" for a while. Letting the poster sit allowed moisture to penetrate through the various layers and hopefully make it easier for us to take the final layer of the previous backing off. Turns out this was a big hope.

Smaller sheets of hollytext were applied so that we could work on parts of the poster while keep other parts damp. 

I have helped John and Robin demount a number of posters and fine art pieces. It is always a tough, time-consuming project no matter what. However, I don't think any of us have ever cursed so much as we did with this poster. The paper and ink were very fragile and the adhesive was very stubborn, so while we were able to save the vast majority of the poster we did lose some areas (paper and ink loss is always a risk with demounting posters).

After washing, gelatin treatment and then waiting, we tested this corner to see how easily the linen would come off.  
For most demount projects, particularly those that have been backed before conservation became more prevalent, we take the backing off in small strips. This allows us a certain amount of control and to find and handle problem areas. With this poster, there were problem areas all over the place!

We usually work from the middle out. The borders of a poster are usually the most fragile and benefit from extra time curing. 

Here Robin was able to remove most of this strip of linen in one long thin piece.

However, we handled it like the professionals we are.

We had the most trouble around the globe in the middle, but this was the last piece of the old backing! 

The poster after all the old (gross) linen was removed.

Next week's blog is about re-linen backing this poster!

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! Additional questions regarding other work or your pieces, please contact us via email at or by phone 818.882.1214.

Also, check out our websites: and Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog. For dail photos and updates check out Poser Mountain's Twitter and Instragra: follus us on Twitter @postermount and postermountain on Instragram. Our subsidiary company, LA Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

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