Thursday, October 16, 2008

Preserving the Frame and Documents

A little late, I thought to document my process of restoration for this framed Daabs-Attest. I only missed actually bending the nails back and I replicated the scanning process, but everything else is as it happened. Well, I didn't photograph my shower in which I rested the documents on the sink in the hopes that a little steam might help strengthen them. Maybe that was a bad idea, I don't know.

Okay, so yeah, I used a claw hammer to bend back the tiny nails in the back of the frame, in order to release the backing plank... I wish I knew what these components were actually called. You know that there's technical jargon for everything.

Once the backing was free I carefully lifted it out and then the certificate and newspaper from the frame. These documents were too large to fit my flatbed scanner so I had to turn them sideways and scan each side in two halves.

In order to help support the documents, rather than let them droop out the side of the scanner, I piled a stack of trade paperback graphic novels for the excess paper to rest upon. The books weren't selling on eBay or Amazon, but at least they were able to serve a useful purpose here.

Next, I got a microfiber cloth and some generic glass cleaner and scrubbed down the pane of glass. It wouldn't come free due to the tiny nails so I left it in and tried not to spray the wood frame too much.

What's interesting is that the glass pane itself was neatly cut on three sides and then very jagged on the fourth. It's as though the glass cutter lost his enthusiasm when freeing this pane from a larger sheet. I'm not sure what the process was back then, when mass-producing sheets of glass. It's very old glass, with tiny bubbles running horizontally like transparent grains of sushi rice.

(I don't know why Blogger rotates that jagged glass image 90 degrees clockwise. I didn't take the picture at that angle and I didn't rotate the image during editing. Blogger just won't upload it right-side-up.)

Then I got out these Pledge wipes for the frame. They're orange-scented but that's irrelevant: I wanted to nourish the wood a little and clean out some of the dirt. The wipes were filthy before long, and the wood looks a little better. I hope it does some good.

It's apparent from this photo that the frame has seen a couple coats of paint. Under the dark brown there's a layer of white, before you get down to the wood itself. If I knew more about painting wood I could tell whether the white stuff was actually a former color or if it's some old brand of primer. As it is, I have no idea, just wanted to document where it had chipped from the frame.

Once the documents had been scanned completely, I laid them back down on the glass pane, replaced the back plank, and gently bent the nails down to hold the plate. They bent back so easily I wondered if I had damaged the metal nails in my process. I wonder if a preservationist who specializes in frames and portraits would have a cardiac arrest to witness my brutality. I can only apologize for my ignorance so much.

You can see my cat, Toki, guiding me through the process. (The bulk of his advice consists of informing me that he could do it better and warning me not to f*** up.)

And here's the finished product. I brought it out to the yard for atmosphere.

1 comment:

Alexis said...

Nice atmosphere.

And you're brave. I couldn't bring myself to open up the bullfight watercolor I found at Goodwill. (Though I suspected I simply lack the patience required, and your post confirms.)