This large scale vintage advertisement measured about 5 1/2 by 2 1/2 feet and had been stored folded for a number of years. All of the edges had been folded back probably because when it was displayed in the early-mid-20th century it was wrapped around a piece of metal. (Side note, if you want to go down the history rabbit hole, there is a fascinating story about the legal battle between Good Humor and Popsicle which you can read here: The Cold War Between Good Humor and Popsicle.)
We began, as we usually do, by washing the piece.
We have large melamine boards for larger scale objects like this and have learned that it's easier to put these boards on our conservation tables and work directly on top of them. The light and angle in this photo give a good idea of the two fold lines and if you look closely you can see the edges that were are at this point still folded back.
This was printed on very thick paper and then treated to make it weather resistant, which also made it tough to smooth out the warping, but we gently massaged it flat. We use pieces of mylar to flip the piece over, as well as to squeegee it flat and to work fold lines and creases so they are flatter.
People are generally shocked that we wash paper. What usually shocks me, even after working at Poster Mountain for more than five years, is how much dirt can build up in paper over time.
The photo above also gives you a good image of where the edges were folded and how dirty those fold lines had gotten over time.
This advertisement was printed on thick paper and was in pretty good shape all things considered. So we made the decision to use our gelatin flattening treatment and leave the piece unbacked. We reinforced all the fold lines with strips of Japanese tissue to give them some extra stability and then applied an aqueous gelatin solution to the back, put a large piece of hollytex on top of that and then applied more gelatin.
We then flipped the hollytex and ad sandwich (or would that be an open faced sandwich?) over so that the hollytex acted as a substrate between the ad and the board. We squeeged the advertisement through a mylar sheet to make sure it was completely flat and there were no air bubbles. Then we let it dry for a few days while temporarily mounted to the melamine board.
And voila! Flat and with the edge unfolded!
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 email@example.com or by phone 818.882.1214.
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