Frame Reconstruction

Don't worry Mom, this is NOT a line of cocaine! It's just dust from sanding my wood panel for my master copy. Apologies to all of the kids my own age who thought that this blog would be exciting, because today we're talking about Renaissance style sanding, putting frames back together, and... Q-tips? That's right folks, Q-tips. Nothing but quality content here.

Before sandpaper was invented, the ground layer was smoothed by scraping a knife over the surface. Sometimes if the ground layer still needed smoothing after being scraped, it would be smoothed further with shark skin which acted as a fine grit sandpaper.

Frames and other decorations were usually added on and gessoed together with the panel before the image was painted, so that they would be seamlessly melded together. So after sanding, I added my fourth layer of ground and put it in its frame which I also coated with gesso and then sanded it all over again. Wiping it down with a wet piece of linen can also help to eliminate any left over bumps or brush strokes.

Now that my panel is smooth and framed, I'll be ready to start laying the down the image next week.

While waiting for my panel to dry, Nina had me reconstructing a crumbled frame that belonged to a small Dutch landscape painting. Luckily, the owner provided a bag of frame pieces and I was able to piece together most of the losses.

Normally, the pieces would be reattached with a plaster/glue mixture so that the treatment would be reversible, but unfortunately a prior attempt to put the frame back together left a bunch of glue residue where we were trying to reattach the pieces, preventing them from fitting back in their places correctly. Nina tried to scrape away the old glue as best as possible but decided that the best course of action would be to use watered down wood glue (which is stronger than the plaster mix) to better hold the pieces in place. This is not a reversible treatment and normally would not be used, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Now, this is the moment I'm sure you've all been waiting for: we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to present a lesson on Q-tips! Kind of random, but nonetheless an important conservation skill - I learned how to roll my own Q-tips today so that I could wipe out the excess glue that squeezed out of the cracks when I mushed the pieces into place. Wrapping a pointy skewer with a bit of cotton creates a smaller and pointier tip. Unlike store-bought Q-tips whose cotton is adhered to the stick, you can easily replace the dirty cotton on a hand-made Q-tip and reuse the stick.

Next week I'll finish filling in the missing parts of the frame that couldn't be recovered and (finally!) start the painting process on my master copy.

In other news, thank you Mom for posting about my blog on facebook - I think I now have three whole readers! (And thank you to those readers for caring enough to read.) The professor overseeing my internship wants to post my blog on the art department website, so hopefully soon some fellow students will be reading this too.


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