Friday, January 8, 2016

Grateful Dead

 Our first blog post of 2016 (where 2015 went I have no idea) is about a ca. 1978 Grateful Dead serigraph by the artist Stanely Mouse. (A short disclaimer: This serigraph was printed using gold metallic ink, which is incredibly hard to photograph so that it looks the same consistently so please keep that in mind when viewing our photos.)

This piece came to us for several different reasons. As you can see from the before photo there is some scuffing and dinging visible in the gold. On the back of the print there is also foxing, which is the general term used for certain types of oxidation in paper that causes red, rust like spots.

While I personally am not a Grateful Dead fan, I think this is a very elegant concert poster. It has an art deco feel to the lines and composition, with strong Egyptian influences mixed with the overtones of American Rock music from that era.

Additional photos from before conservation show that the poster was also curling a bit. A shot of the back also gives a better view of the foxing. 

John and I approached this conservation project with a little bit of trepidation, since the inks of serigraphs can sometimes be difficult and metallic paint adds in another  tricky factor. We fully expected some of the ink to flake away in the process, however, our caution  was unnecessary since we had no problems with either the ink or the paper during washing.

  There were numerous fingerprint smudges on the gold background, so we used a soft bristled brush to try and gently remove them. While we had some success they were still visible, although not as much as before.

After trying to manually lessen the fingerprints and scuff marks we then addressed the foxing on the back. This was done through a chemical rinse, that lightens all but the most stubborn foxing. Again, we got lucky and this foxing was not all that stubborn so the process made a huge difference. The final step in conservation was to put the print through our gelatin process to flatten it. After a few days curing on the board it was soft mounted to the print went to masking and airbrushing.

In masking Pete used a combination of low tack tape and miskit to cover the images in black ink so that we could airbrush the gold background to cover all the scuffs and scratches still visible. 

Aaron then applied a thin layer of gold metallic paint to cover all the wear and tear of 30+ years.

Unmasking is always one of my favorite parts of the restoration process to watch because it has always contained that magical feeling of unwrapping a present. Even when we consciously know what the print will look like, it is still incredibly cool to remove all the protective layers and see what a new coat of ink can do.

See what I mean? Like Christmas morning! 

There was some minor ink loss in the black that we also wanted to address. We used a combination of both airbrushing and hand detailing for the black areas. 

The photo below is another one of my favorites because it reminds me of how cool our jobs are. We spend most days getting to touch and restore pieces of art and history that people rarely see out of a frame. 

And the final outcome turned out beautifully!

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! For daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: 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.