Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ever Heard of the Mission Inn in Riverside CA?

Ever heard of the Mission Inn in Riverside CA? I love this place! I think of it kind of like a Hearst Castle but you can stay there. Its got the same kind of feel to it though the appearance of the property isn't similar. If you already know about the Mission Inn, you may find this info interesting:

Our lab has worked on (preserving, restoring) the hundreds of paintings around the Mission Inn and designed and planned exhibits and placements in the public areas. We still do work for them and consult. The photo is of the Spanish Art Gallery, a favorite place for receptions, is full of Spanish Colonial Paintings. There are some great works of art to be seen including a major work by William Keith and the original series of 38 paintings of the Missions of California by Henry Chapman Ford from 1870's.

Go to missioninn.com and try Googling "Spanish Art Gallery" and "St. Cecilia's Chapel". Poke around. You'll see what I mean about it being a fun place, romantic and the food is very good too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Careless handling and an 18 inch scratch. What did we do about it?

There's nothing that makes you feel dumber than carelessly handling something valuable, like a painting, and then damaging it. In this case, the result was a big ol' 18 inch scratch. The insult to injury is the cost to repair the damage... and maybe even some loss of value!

So, why does it cost $400 instead of $50? Well, we take some conservation quality adhesive/consolidant and we apply it with a tiny brush. We inspect the damage with a magnifier to see that its going where we are intending it to go. Then we make sure any flakes are well adhered so we don't loose any original paint. Then we "inpaint" or touch up the lost or damaged paint with a tiny brush to make sure we don't overstep the damaged area. We put paint only where the damage is. We DO NOT repaint a bush to camouflage a scratch. Then we apply, in the case of this painting, some varnish (non yellowing) along the repair to bring the shine to match the original paint.

Have a question about the appraisal? Go www.faclappraisal.com and speak with Richard Holgate (805) 895 5121

Monday, December 21, 2009

Look at this rip! Want to see some magic?!

This rip, on the left, was kind-a ugly: Ripped when the nail gave way and it fell off the wall. See entry at our other blog (www.savemystuff.blogspot.com). It ripped the fibers and got uglier when the fibers frayed.

So we turned it over and, under magnification, the fibers were realigned and rewoven. Then the ends of the fibers were "re-welded" back together. The photo on the right is the back of the rip after the "re-welding" and readhering of the ends back together. Nice, huh?

Even though the rip looks great and is now flat, the stress from the impact will result, in the future, in a disfiguring spiderweb or bull's eye type cracking pattern. So this painting will be lined to keep that from happening.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Does Homeland Defense Have To Do With Saving Your Stuff?!

Well, Homeland Defense is interested in being prepared for disasters... or the government's response to disasters... and being prepared for emergency situations. I was in New Orleans last year at a Hurricane Preparedness Conf. for government office managers and several 1st responders told be that after Katrina, they couldn't even get emergency services personnel back to work immediately because they were home taking care of their families. OK, that's logical. But then they were surprised to find out that the return to work was delayed because they were gathering, organizing and "saving their stuff." Some personnel didn't return to work for two weeks!!

So, obviously, being prepared with your letters, photos, family bible and other items that can't be replaced is important to how a person responds or is useful AFTER the disaster... for the sake of how useful that person can be... not just for the sake of preserving memories.

Check out Homeland Security Outlook, our latest Affiliate for www.saveyourstuff.com! We'll implement my proposal to them next week. http://www.hsoutlook.com/index.php

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Cleaning Lady And Her Damp Rag!

Perhaps you saw the previous flaking painting that was caused by the cleaning lady wiping down the painting every once in awhile with a damp rag. Well, here's another example! This is so sad because it is so avoidable.

Don't use more than your feather duster to keep webs off. The only thing worse than a damp rag would be to spray the surface first with a cleaner.

Besides causing flaking, damp rags also make varnish layers cloud up (called blooming)... very unsightly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can you clean artwork with a potato and onion? This was ALREADY cleaned once!

Can you believe that someone already restored this painting and cleaned it in the process?! I have actually been asked if cleaning a painting's dirty varnish and grime is done with a slice of potato! That's right... I've also been asked if a slice of onion works. (sigh... unbelievable...) Ok, here are a couple of tips besides DON'T use a slice of potato or onion (they'll encourage mold and bacteria in the cracks of your artwork... and they don't work): Don't ever use an off the shelf cleaner (ie 409, Windex etc.). So actually my tip is not how to do it... its what NOT to do if you value your artwork! More artwork is damaged by inept cleaning than any other source of damage! (there sure are a lot of exclamation points in the blog entry... sorry!)

Look at the difference in this varnish and crud removal! Wow... we do this all the time and WE are still surprised to see the beautiful color unveiled and appear from the depths below.

Connect with us on Facebook at
"Fine Art Conservation",
"Art Conservation",
"Tips for Art Collectors",
and see what you can do at home at www.saveyourstuffblog.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Download Available - Affiliate Program Underway

In last 3 days,  3 Affiliates have signed up with saveyourstuff.com that will help redistribute the "save your stuff message" of emergency preparation info (which I provide to them for free) to about 20 mill in their industries. This kind of info, on a corporate or office level is part of having a Disaster Plan, a mandate of the Homeland Security Dept.

On the saveyourstuff.com website, an expanded 1st edition version of my book, "How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster" is now available for download. In addition (and I'm excited about this) each of the chapters can be purchased and downloaded individually if a customer doesn't want the whole book.

This information of saving and protecting your treasured documents and photos is something people feel at the "heart level" at home or in the office. Would you please send the message of this blog entry (copy and paste the URL... or the entire entry) along to those you know? While most of us are not in the throws of a disaster right now, this info could be greatly appreciated in the upcoming months.

The three new affiliates are:
Homeland Security Outlook (www.hsoutlook.com)
Rayanne Thorn of the Human Resource Industry
SBDC's Informatiuon Clearing House http://sbdcnet.ning.com/

All my best and thanks for sending this message along to others.
Scott M. Haskins

Friday, December 11, 2009

George Washington Is In The House!

By far, the most famous portraits of George Washington were done by Gilbert Stewart at the end of the 1700's. Its kind of cool to see one up close and personal... even better to massage it. We got to put our fingers all over this one by giving it a light surface cleaning, a couple of spots of touch up (inpaint) and a new varnish. Now he's all prettied up for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Cleaning Lady Was Knocking The Paint Off!!!

Can you see where the cleaning lady was knocking paint off when she dusted? Sometimes paint peels up and flakes off in tiny patterns and unless you are looking for them, you won't notice until its too late. If too much original paint is lost, you will loose value. You can always have it repaired... but it may loose value just the same.

Here's a tip for your cleaning lady: Don't touch the art work! Don't wipe down (dust) the frames with a damp rag.

BTW, I like this picture. I'm drawn to the illustration art from back in the 1930's through the 1950's that Norman Rockwell made so famous. This is not a Rockwell but as you can see, there were other great artists.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Watch out for your cleaning lady! Paintings don't like damp rags.

There are several places on this painting that are flaking in small pin point patterns. This is typical of paint layers that are wiped with damp rags... repeatedly. Finishes on frames also don't react well! I cleaned a gorgeous California landscape from the 1920's by John Gamble once upon a time; a $45k picture with coastline and poppies that was otherwise in perfect condition. About 10 years later, it returned to my lab and it was flaking everywhere in these small pin point patterns. A completely avoidable situation not to mention the loss of value. In the case of the painting in this photo, what more dangerous spot to have flaking than the signature!?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Look how dirty this is...

What if you didn't wash you kitchen walls for 100 years? What would they look like? Then add to that, dirty heating systems in houses like coal burning furnaces and wood stoves. THEN, add to that smokers and there you have my best guess on why a painting would be SO dirty! Actually, you could add on top of that multiple layers discoloring varnishes also.

This owner, bought this gray picture because he knew it was supposed to have brighter colors originally and paid a hugely discounted price. His investment in a proper cleaning was rewarded with the great change in appearance that he was expecting.

A day in the life in our lab... fun discoveries!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Ghost Image

Oohhhh scarry!.. but not for the nightmarish reasons you might think. I harp and harp and harp on NEVER using cardboard to store, mount or come into contact with any documents (paper), photos etc you want to keep. Here's a common horror story: using cardboard as a backing in framing. Notice the imprint of the cardboard (acid burns!) in the back of the artwork. Acid build up in paper makes it yellow (brown... in fact the back of the artwork in the photo used to be white!), become brittle and it accelerates the deterioration by many many times. Its one of my Top Ten Hit List items to avoid. See the rest of the list at www.saveyourstuff.com.

Btw, I have a painting in the lab that is haunted,a REAL horror story. But that's another long blog entry. It'll creep you out if I ever decide to put it on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A great discovery rewards a smart buyer... after cleaning this painting!

The overall gray color of this painting made it look like it was painted dark and gloomy. But the new buyer knew that this artist usually had much brighter colors. He was very smart, waiting to buy this after it failed to sell at auction for a huge discount. Now, with the cleaning and a new frame, the painting's value should change substantially. Look at the difference between the right side (clean) and the left side (dirty)!!! Wow... we see this kind of change all the time and we are still amazed. WARNING! If you are a do-it-your-selfer, this is not a job for your 409, Windex or your favorite potion. The dark colors are prone to dissolving more easily than the other colors and a half cleaned job would look blotchy and terrible. We are using a rotation of several solvents to ensure safety for the colors while yet removing all the grime and discolored varnish (and maybe some smoker's nicotine mixed in!).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I was asked to speak at an international conference as an author and expert

About 10 days ago, I spoke at an international conference in Merida, Mexico on preparing "small businesses" for natural disasters. The American organization, SBDA and the Mexican organization, AMCDPE work closely together but the conference was attended by representatives from 8 or 9 other countries. The conference was attended by office and program directors of various institutions including governments, universities, non profits and corporations. I outlined for them how my message of "save your stuff" is very important for the work/office place and is an essential part of an emergency preparedness plan, which is overseen by the Homeland Security Dept. If anyone is interested in my content, write me at preservation.coach@gmail.com and I will send you a copy of my written presentation. In the end, I offered to provide free content for newsletters, blogs, and articles and even utilize my publications to help fund raise. For this event, we set up www.salvesuscosas.com for free downloads in the Spanish language.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Surprise, surprise... they did what I asked!

As the previous blog entry said, I went to see the masterpiece painting that had dropped off the wall. So guess what happened? BOTH bolts that were holding the hanging hooks into the wall got RIPPED out of the wall (they were obviously NOT enough for the weight of this large painting) and the whole thing, painting and original frame, came crashing to the ground! Fortunately when it hit the ground, it didn't fall over onto the items on the desk nearby (whew!). So, when I got there it was still on the floor,upright, leaning against the wall where it had fallen with all its debris. The lower right corner hit first giving the whole thing a good shake and busting open a bit wider the join in the frame. And, as you can see in the photo, a chunk of paint fell off about the size of 4 quarters all lined up. I was surprised that they actually did what I asked! They put the loose pieces of original paint in a film (slide) box. I can put those pieces back. I'm pretty good at doing puzzles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Damage and tragedy in a storm..

Just think! The other day a storm hit a town in central CA so forcefully that a Masterpiece was knocked off the wall of the museum! It's all on the QT of course... but I've been "summoned" tomorrow post haste (spelled correctly?) to assess the situation for the insurance company. My instructions to the curator were to scoop up all the knocked off paint and put it in a film canister (does anyone even have those around anymore?!) and I can put all the paint pieces back in place so there is minimal touch up (inpainting) needed... which could affect the value depending on how much there was. Tomorrow, as I inspect this large great painting I'll have with me my bottle on consolidation adhesive to do a little ER action on the scene. Question, do your paintings have strong hanging hardware and wire... and solidly mounted hooks in the wall? So, tomorrow, on the road again...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fabulous new painting by Teichert found in a garage!

The director of the Historical Dept. of the LDS church recently told me a story that someone "had found" a painting by Minerva Teichert in their garage... whaaaaat?! "Found?" And this wasn't a little sketch in a box... this was a major painting of Christ blessing the children at the bountiful Temple in 3 Nephi, 48" x 54" in size. Imagine having something like this in your garage with a leaky roof and bicycles and junk pushed up against it?!

Our labor of love was to clean it, stabilize any deterioration (stop flaking and reduce cracks), varnish etc. The final result should be a painting that you will see in the future in many publications, posters etc. Maybe you'll even get a copy of it for your meeting house? You heard about it first, here... at the moment of its discovery and saving conservation efforts.

Value? Given the prosperity in the church (hungry buyers in an auction?) and the rarity of such great paintings I would guess at least $1 million... but that's just a guess. I haven't shown you the whole painting in the photo because of copyright issues.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Deep in Church Archives...

I just got back from SLC where I was ushered through the new Church Library of the LDS Church by the Head of Conservation. What a beautiful building. He gave me the tour while we talked shop. We looked at the very cool (sub-zero) storage vaults and , of course, the conservation labs. While talking about equipment, layout etc, they pulled from a secured container a 1st Edition of the Book of Mormon. Did you know that most 1st Editions are missing their original title pages? I think they get sold separately. This one was missing too. But on the blank page in front, there was an inscription in the hand of the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicating the book to one of the three women mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants. Which woman owned this book? It was a bit of a "time machine" experience to handle the pages and think of where its been. The Head Conservator had just completed its treatments for preservation/restoration.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Jewel in the Rough

Today in the lab, among the many deadlines awaiting our attention; came a jewel in the rough.  The cleaning of this painting is astounding.  Coming across paintings who's varnish is severly discolored and grimey, it always amazes me when we get a differance like this.  A yellow varnish can obliterate detail, makes beautiful blues...green, kills the pinks, and shallows depth of field. Not to mention adds visual weight and confuses the artist's original intent of a light and airy landscape.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I shouldn't be but I was startled!

I've been cleaning paintings for 35 years and I shouldn't be surprised when doing a cleaning test but when gorgeous baby blue original color comes popping out from underneath a cruddy brown varnish, it always surprises me! What's more interesting about this photo is (if you'll notice the darker streaks in the sky), there is left over dark varnish from when someone else tried to clean it before. I can't believe they thought this painting was clean, can you? BTW, the only safe thing I can recommend if you are a doer-your-selfer are Q-tips and saliva. Any cruddy surface that requires a more aggressive cleaning could be damaged in the process so let a professional conservator look at it. In history, more paintings have been ruined by inept cleaning that by all the volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes... and grandkids all put together.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oops! Spilled my drink on a painting...

I remember a Pissarro at a VIP reception in a museum gallery that got splashed in an over enthusiastic New Year's toast. I've seen paintings in dining rooms with old mashed potatoes dried on the surface. And this nice lady (photo at right) had both dark brown coffee colored drips and whitish solid crusty stuff. Fortunately in all these cases, a good varnish protected the surface of the paint and made removal of the mess not only possible but easy. If a painting you own gets caught in a food fight, call a conservator. Don't hit it with 409!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hidden Sketch By Famous Artist Found

Today we removed a painting by Mary De Neil Morgan off of a flimsy warped board and discovered a long lost sketch drawn on the reverse side by the famous artist. This sketch has not been seen since the artist did it about 80 years ago.

It looks like a preparatory drawing for a painting for one of her well known pueblos in a canyon (De Chelley?). The sketch was unharmed during our removal... but since we are mounting the drawing again... it will be hidden again from sight. Except from you... a privilege known to few.
This painting was "bombed" with 3 different colors of fire retardant in the last Santa Barbara fire! The soot and smoke were so bad that the owner of this family heirloom thought it was a "throw away." But a friend told him to have us give it a look: cleaning away the surface "stuff" and by removing the old varnish, we found the original painting to be in excellent condition!