Recently we had the incredible opportunity to work on a Leger — a fake Leger, that is. Our wonderful client’s dad had painted the reproduction nearly a half century ago. He was an art history professor and painted as a hobby, and we were so impressed with his ability!
Fernand Leger was born in France in 1881, and developed his famous populist cubist style in the 1920s. His painting, Le Petit Dejeuner, the painting our reproduction is based on, was painted in 1921.
The painting had some scuffs and scratches and a major tear to the left side. We patched it, filled, and touched into the loss to blend the repair into the original.
Our painting even had a signature, and while they’re different enough to distinguish the original from its copy, we are still so amazed by this truly special piece.
Our conservators, as artists first and foremost, understand that sometimes it is unrealistic to be able to budget for full-scale restoration work on an item, no matter how precious the piece. When the case, we try to find non-invasive solutions to temporarily repair and ultimately protect your piece until it can have more extensive work done.
Here, a client had already spent a good deal of money at a jeweler attempting to reconnect the clasp with solder. The work was incomplete, with the link weakened by lack of material and over-shaping the remaining. As a result, the fastener was unstable and breaking open with wear.
We knew the client did not want to spend a fortune repairing the previous job, so we recommended a temporary, yet stable, fix. First, we tested out some shades of gold powder, to find a close match to the original material.
We mixed that into a two-part epoxy and carefully dotted along the clasp to complete the fastener. Allowing for cure time, our work reveals a wearable and relatively durable solution for his piece at a far smaller cost than the previous unsatisfactory restoration.
DO NOT use bread to clean your painting. Many diy gurus and online forums will suggest using the “traditional” method of removing dirt and grime from your painting by using bread. However, the organic enzymes in bread can not only leave a tenacious film that is difficult to fully remove, but it may attract insects that will permanently damage the paint film of your piece.
DO consult a professional conservator. A trained restorer can assess your painting in detail, and appropriately choose a cleaning method. Even some seemingly stable paintings can instantly begin to flake away with a drop of water, so it is particularly important to have a professional take a look at your piece.
2. Gluing Broken Porcelain/Pottery
DO NOT use Super Glue to reconstruct your object. Super Glue, Krazy Glue or cyanoacrylate was originally developed during the search for materials suitable for clear plastic gun sights during WWII. Dermabond, a derivative, has been used for superficial wound closure since the 1970’s. For porcelains, however, Super Glue is an extremely poor choice for an adhesive because it is so thin and quick-drying. It will likely absorb into the object’s porous material and set too fast to properly align. Additionally, removal of Super Glue by a restorer is extremely time consuming and expensive.
DO keep your broken pieces in an airtight bag to prevent dirt and debris from staining the break lines. If you cannot find or a professional conservator to repair your piece, you may use a water-based school or craft glue, preferably thinned out with water. Use the smallest amount of glue possible, and try to place all the pieces together before the glue dries, as the contraction of the setting glue will make it impossible to fit pieces inline later.
3. Cleaning Wooden Furniture
DO NOT use household cleaners. These proprietary ingredients can be extremely harsh, and can not only strip a varnish or blanch a surface, but can permanently damage a valuable piece. Water is a common solvent in household cleaners, and can cause everything from warping to mold growth and decomposition. It can also destroy gilding and veneer, rendering a precious work of art nearly worthless.
DO wipe with a dry, soft cloth if you wish to remove dust and grime. A deeper clean needs the expertise of a professional, because the restorer can evaluate your individual piece and understand its particular needs. A conservator uses a variety of oils and waxes to polish wooden artifacts, but the blend is dependent on the type of source material, technique, and finish of an individual piece.
With a deep history that ebbs and flows with business, art and music, Deep Ellum has become acknowledged as one of the most rich artistic districts in our hometown of Dallas. This has been recently boosted by the efforts of 42 Real Estate owner and developer, Scott Rohrman, who, in 2012 began the 42 mural project.
The thoughts for this project began after Rohrman was introduced to Spanish artist, Adrian Torres. Torres had lived in Deep Ellum for several months, and was immediately taken by the urban space, saying the grittiness and vibe reminded him of Europe and New York. He eagerly asked Rohrman if he could paint a mural on the walls of Deep Ellum’s biggest intersection, Main and Exhibition. Once completed, the project was born. The mural attracted hundreds of tourists and calls, and very soon requests from artists began pouring in.
The idea is simple behind the project is simple. Rohrman and his team called upon artists in North Texas to create murals all over the walls of the expansive streets of Deep Ellum. In return to his request, he received over 200 proposals, but of those 200, only 42 would have their art work chosen. The artists ranged in qualifications, age and perspective, with the youngest being 14 years old. From this experience, the chosen artists get to put their souls on the walls, expand their social media presence, and are provided a small stipend.
The art work has made Deep Ellum one of the most heavily saturated mural hot spots in the country, quickly changing the long held, but more recent history of Deep Ellum as a rundown, dirty or even dangerous space within Dallas. With thousands of tourists flocking to the area, the popularity on social media and the growing collective of artists involved, the project continues to thrive. Check out the Interactive walking tour for a virtual tour of the murals.
However, with this increased popularity, comes the inevitable impermanence of street art. Each year, the majority of the murals are painted over to make room for the next year’s project or real estate development. This is one way that street art differs from conservation. While conservation strives to preserve the original material and purpose, street art murals thrive on ephemerality, the new and now and the experience of the viewer over all. I mean, if it isn’t posted all over Instagram, was it even there at all?
In 2017, the contest is currently underway, with only the top 3 offered the possible option of keeping their mural up for another year. However, depending on the location, the mural is not guaranteed safe from development. Nevertheless, the winner is guaranteed a spot in next year’s project, ensuring they can make art for another day. We have already cast our votes for this year! Check out 42 Murals Instagram to cast your vote, and see above for a few contenders this year.