Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Do You Pronounce Sarsaparilla?

This Sarsparilla poster was deemed a "shred" by its owner, but he sent it to us anyway hoping that we would be able to do something with it.

We love projects like this poster because it gives everyone a chance to flex their conservation and restoration muscles.We've seen and fixed posters in worse shape, but any chance to fix a piece with large areas missing and old, brittle paper is a challenge that we welcome.

The poster was linen backed first to stabilize the original paper and give our restoration artists a solid foundation on which to build.

The client opted to do full restoration, so we had to add paper onto the entire left side of the poster.

Although we have boxes of "throw away" vintage posters that we find or people give us, but it is rare to large sections of unprinted poster paper.  So for this patch job we made do with a several large patches instead of one long one. 

Seeing this, I do have to wonder what on earth is scrofula?! (It's an old name for tuberculosis, as it turns out!)
After prep comes masking and airbrushing. This is often one of the more dramatic stages of restoration. And one of the scariest for our clients to see, both in person and in pictures, because it often looks like we have covered their work in paint. To be fair, if we are airbrushing it, we have in fact covered certain areas in paint. But the hardest step to see is masking, which protects the areas of the poster that aren't going to be airbrushed. So, don't be alarmed by this next photo!

This is the only photo I managed to get, it was a busy day! However, it does demonstrate exactly why airbrushing is intimidating. The green background has been evenly sprayed over that area and the letters, including those that needed to be added back in, have been covered with acetate to protect them. Once the masking is removed, we have a seamless background color and a guide for adding the text back in.

After a few more rounds with the airbrush, the poster goes to detail in order to fix any small issues and add the final flourishes. And this was the end result:

The client was so thrilled with the finished piece that he emailed us to tell us this: " Hi. I received the sign and to say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement. Even knowing your reputation didn't prepare me for the job you did on that "shred" I sent you. You are truly highly skilled artisans. Some people I have shown it to even doubt its authenticity because of its pristine appearance and are convinced it is a reproduction. Please reassure me that the original piece I sent you is in there somewhere so I can confidently state that it is a restored original and not completely fabricated. I am sure I will do business with you wonderful people again."

Thank you so much for the support! And as you can see, while we did quite a lot of work on this old sign, most of the original was left to shine through with a little help from our restoration work!