A painting is one-of-a-kind, or is it?

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Environment Matters, Even for Conservators

With technology and science in conservation evolving so quickly, sometimes it’s difficult to imagine that frequently the best solution for a project comes from nature itself.

The sun, our planet’s life-giver, emits UV rays that are invaluable in restoration. Here are three examples where the natural material yields the best result.

1) MOLD MITIGATION

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Darkness and moisture are mold’s best friends. In fact, when a client’s artworks have been exposed to water, the first thing we recommend is getting the item outside if it’s a sunny day. One mold spores form they are impossible to remove, but dryness and UV light can help stop mold from developing further.

2) LIFTING YELLOW IN PLASTICS

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A well-known technique in vintage toy restoration is using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and UV light to lift yellowing in white plastics. Although effective, this treatment is best left to professionals as improper use of these materials can also alter and lift tangential colors.

3) GLASS ADHESIVE

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There is a type of adhesive which is formulated to cure with UV light. The maker Swarovski frequently applies this thin glue to attach many of its fine crystal components. The advantage of such an adhesive is that it does not yellow like many glues, but the strength of the bond is sometimes weak, especially with a surface as smooth and non-porous as glass.

Dealing With the High Cost of Restoration

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Project Restoration: Declaration of Independence

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On July 4th, 1776, a group of men put forth a document that would forever change the course of human history. The original Declaration of Independence still survives and is one of the most treasured papers in American history.

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In 1995, the National Archives began planning for an update of the technology preserving the document. In 2001, conservators finally opened the case for the first time in 50 years. They discovered that the glass protecting the paper was degrading and the ink was fading at an alarming rate.

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The project was led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a branch of the US Department of Commerce. The base of the case was created from a 600-pound block of aluminum, carefully carved by a milling machine. The inert gas now being circulated through the encasement would be argon, as opposed to helium.
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The new glass is presently an inch above the surface of the paper and the case is airtight, allowing no oxygen to leak in and cause chemical degradation. Now safely at home in its new encasement, the Declaration of Independence can also serve as a wonderful example of how evolutions in technology can change the techniques employed by conservators.

Source: http://www.history.com/shows/modern-marvels/videos/restoring-the-declaration-of-independence