Friday, January 19, 2018

A Small Tear in a VW Poster

Happy New Year! We hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and are well rested and ready to send us lots of exciting projects to blog about! 

Our first post of the year is about an integral aspect of our restoration process that we have mentioned, but never focused on: burnishing folds and tears. Detailing small tears and folds is part of the bread and butter of the restoration side of our business and burnishing makes adding pigment back in much easier. 

The poster we're working on is a German VW poster. The client was only concerned about one tear in the background right next to "bergfreudig".

Yes, I know. The tear is so small that you can't even see it in this photo.

 In order to restore the tear, we first needed to prep it.

The tools we use for this are: a burnishing tool, Methylcellulose, a small paint brush, hollytex and a small iron. There are a lot of different kinds of burnishing tools, but I prefer a teflon one because I can shape the angles I need and can work without scratching the surface I'm working on. Methylcellulose is a chemical compound that we mix with water to form a  clear viscous solution that is a very, very mild adhesive. We use Methycellulose to soften paper fibers so that they can be burnished back down. Hollytex is a polyester fabric that we use in many areas of conservation, but for prep we use it to protect the poster from pressure or heat and in this case specifically from the heat of an iron.
From left to right: Methylcellulose, burnishing tool, paint brush, hollytex and a small iron.

Methylcellulose when mixed correctly is very viscous and often just hangs from the brush without dripping.
 When burnishing tears like this, I apply a small amount of Methylcellulose along the lines of the tear, then use my burnisher to smooth the tear flat. The Methylcellulose acts as a gentle moisturizer/adhesive and so generally most paper fibers are flattened back into place with the help of the burnisher.  

A thin line of Methycellulose applied along part of the tear. I don't know about you but I'm getting tired of typing Methylcellulose.

To burnish means to polish something by rubbing it. For prep we want to polish the paper fibers back into place.
 The heat from the iron also helps set the paper fibers and with the hollytex as a protective layer the iron also acts a burnisher.

I've found that a small travel iron gives me the most control.
 I have often explained prep as not being able to see a difference in the paper, but to feel it. This makes showing you photos a tad silly, but I do think that the tear does look a little bit flatter now. And more to the point, the surface of the poster felt smooth.

The point of prep before restoration is to create as flat a surface as possible so that we can then seamlessly add pigment back in.

That's not even all of my greys.

 And in this case I used a combination of Prisma colored pencils to restore the tear.

 At the end of the day we try to balance the wishes of our clients with best industry practices. Restoration using colored pencils or watercolors can sometimes be seen if you know what you're looking for, but they can also be reversed if necessary. And if we've done our job, you definitely have to know what you're looking for.

This photo was taken from about 6 inches away.

Still can't see the tear, but now it has been prepped and detailed!
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 daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: follow us on Twitter @postermount and Poster Mountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, LA Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.

1 comment: