Drama On The High Seas – Conserving The “Alfred” – Episode 2


This video is brought to you by trade, where you can discover new coffees from the nation’s, best local roasters personally, matched to you and conveniently delivered to your door, [ Music ]. In the first video we did a lot of undoing, and now today we can start putting the painting back together.

Our voyage continues and it’s all hands on deck. So, with all of the undoing now complete, i can start thinking about putting the painting back together and that all begins with removing the painting from the hot table and transferring it over to another table.

And this was a really great step because it allowed me to remove a lot of that excess rabbit skin glue. You can see some of it here on the blotter paper. It’s kind of gross, but it’s better that it’s on this paper, as opposed to still on the canvas now, even though all of that rabid skin glue is removed, there still might be some residue and The combination of the application of the rabbit skin glue onto this cotton canvas has caused the cotton canvas to become a little bit weaker.

The glue is penetrated into the canvas, fibers and loosened up the structure of the threads. So i’m, going to do an adhesive impregnation for a couple of reasons. One the adhesive, while being flexible, will provide support to those loose canvas fibers, two, any areas of paint that are vulnerable to flaking or lifting.

Although this painting doesn’t have many will be secured back down and three. This prevents any residue of the rabbit skin glue from absorbing ambient humidity and expanding swelling, or i know it sounds gross developing mold or rot or even attracting pests.

So this treatment has a couple of purposes and once the adhesive is warm, i will roll it on the back and then allow it to dry and cool off. The canvas will absorb all of this adhesive and then i can take it over to the hot table and begin the next step of this treatment.

Now it’s, not a huge painting, but it’s, big enough that i have to take care when transferring it, because i don’t want to cause any kinks or ripples. I don’t need to roll it because it’s, not that big, but i still have to be careful just to ease the canvas down onto the hot table and it’s, going to get sandwiched in between two Pieces of siliconized pet film just to make sure i don’t accidentally glue it to the table or the top layer of pe t film.

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Coffee i mean it kind of still is the most precious cargo right back. Then, if anybody wanted any variety or excitement, they had to send an armada of gunships to the four corners of the earth. It was not an easy task, it was dangerous, it took a ton of money and effort and well it was really complicated.

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So now i can remove the painting from the envelope that i made out of p-e-t film and siliconized release film, and i’m going to save this siliconized release film because it’s expensive. I can reuse it and it’s, not particularly recyclable, because of the silicone once the painting is flat on the table.

I’m, going to just go over it to make sure nothing is stuck to the back. You can see that the canvas now has a slight sheen and that’s. The adhesive that’s, penetrated into the canvas and reflecting the light.

Now before i can adhere the belgian linen to the canvas to create a new tacking edge and facilitate stretching, i have to cut some adhesive film strips, and this adhesive is the same as that was used on the impregnation and it’s, going to Be of benefit because this adhesive sticks to itself really well, so this is going to be an extra strong bond.

Another prep step i need to take is to fray the edges of the belgian linen canvas, and you’ve. Seen me do this before and it’s for two reasons: one: it prevents a crisp hard edge that could potentially transfer to the front of the painting, and it also allows more surface area for the adhesive to grab onto ensuring an extra strong bond.

This belgian linen is stunningly beautiful and it’s made in some really amazing factories in belgium and man. I tell you every time i work with it. I just really really want to go check out one of those factories and see how it’s made once i have ironed on the adhesive film strip to the canvas with just some low heat just to set it in place, so it doesn’t slide around.

I can then apply the belgian linen and start with the actual strip lining. I’ll peel off the protective film layer, and then the adhesive is ready to receive the canvas. I’m, going to tack it into place in a couple of spots, just so that it doesn’t move around and the registration doesn’t go off, and these are just, i guess you could think of them as Spot welds to hold the material in place until i can come back later and really secure it generally.

I use this piece of steel to hold down the canvas. As it is cooling, there is some ambient moisture in this canvas and as it heats up, it expands and as it cools down it, contracts and the steel weight holds that in place.

So there’s no distortion. But in this case, i’m actually using a piece of balsa wood and what is called a clapper. And i learned this from one of my patreons. Who is a tailor and taught me all about how tailors do this exact method to make sure that fine fabrics, don’t distort so just goes to show you you can learn something new every day from corners of the world you didn’t think possible.

So thank you. As i come to the end, i like to trim off the canvas at the edge of the painting. So if you could see through this canvas, you would see that where i’m, cutting right now is the end of the painting and now, with the strip lining in place, i can focus on the repair of the damage to the canvas in the Main field of the painting and i’m, going to be using two different techniques here: one the bridging technique, which you’ve, seen me use before, and also some silk organza, which actually, i also think you have seen me use before Bridging is a technique whereby little strands of belgian linen are dipped in adhesive and then laid down perpendicularly across the tear or hole, and there’s.

A specific reason that i’m using this type of mending for these types of tears and holes. You see some of these holes and tears are open, meaning that there isn’t canvas in their place. There’s, an actual hole or a gap using the bridging technique will allow for a better bond of the fill-in material later on, and i will show and explain that when we come to that step.

But once i have laid down the fibers, i will put a piece of siliconized film, a piece of felt and then the heavy steel weight so that they can dry underweight and not distort sometimes when the tear is l-shaped.

As in this case, i like to kind of bend the bridging around so that at every point there is a perpendicular strand of belgian linen across the opening. I have seen people. Do it one way or do it another? It’s, just the way that i prefer.

I think it works and it looks nice now i mentioned i was going to do a second type of repair and there are tears that were previously repaired on this painting and they were done so with white lead paint effectively.

What ended up happening was the person just smeared, a ton of white lead paint into the open, canvas, fibers and white. Lead is rock hard and once it dries, it is incredibly stable. So i’m, not really all that concerned about these tears.

Opening up as i am with the other ones, or even tenting or distorting over time, but i am going to take the precautionary measure of adding some silk organza. So i’ve cut out a couple of pieces of adhesive film in the shape of the tear.

I’m, not going to lay down a huge square patch, because that’s, really not necessary and it provides no benefit. I’m just going to trace the shape of the wound, and then i’m going to cover it with film.

I’m, going to use a tacking iron just to apply localized heat and bond that film layer to the canvas again. This is the same adhesive film that i used for the strip lining, so the bond is going to be really really good.

Now, once it’s cooled down, i can peel off the protective film and start tacking the silk organza in place and silk. Organza is well just that it’s. Silk! It’s, just an industrialized silk, so it’s, not something super fancy, but it is super strong.

So in the worst case scenario that any of these tears do decide to get crazy, this silk organza will hold it in place. Of course, as it dries, i’m, covering it with the weight just so there isn’t any distortion.

Now this boomerang looking tear required a boomerang, looking piece of silk organza and the reason i’m. Trying to keep this minimal and not just doing a large square is because well, i would say that it’s excessive and unnecessary, and that’s.

True. But it also just kind of looks sloppy, and i just want to make sure that everything i do not only stands the test of time with respect to how it performs, but also i want it to look good and i want people to look at all of These repairs on the back and say they were done with care and attention to detail now, once the bridged areas have had some time to dry, i’ll.

Remove the silicone film and i’ll, put a piece of wool felt down, and then i’ll return, the weights onto them, and these weights are then going to sit for a couple of days, if necessary, just to make sure that Everything is dry on to preparing the stretcher.

I’m, going to disassemble this stretcher and then reassemble it once i have removed all of these staples and there are a lot of them and i’m doing this now, because i have to wait for the painting to be ready.

If you remember, i just cut this off and put it aside, because i wanted to get working on the painting, and so now, while the painting is sitting, i can focus on this part. I hate removing staples and this nifty little staple.

Removing tool makes quick work of it, which i am grateful for, because it’s, a pain you can see each one has to be pulled out and well it’s, not fun. I guess that’s, why? I get paid the big bucks, though you know there’s, a saying work, smarter, not harder, and after doing three edges, i discovered a smarter way to remove these staples.

That was a lot easier, so i guess it’s, nice that my brain can still evolve and find new, better ways of doing things, but man. I wish i had figured this out in the beginning, so anybody out there want to guess how many staples or better, yet how much all of those staples weighed i mean we’ve, seen paintings with more staples, but this one is pretty impressive.

16 grams, just a little over a half an ounce. I have to credit the previous person who worked on this painting for some creativity in the use of a yardstick for the keys it’s, colorful and certainly stylish, but it’s.

Not really all that great, so i’m, going to cut some wood to make proper keys and the wood that i have. That fits is walnut, which seems maybe excessive, because most keys are just pine or poplar. But i have this and it works, and you know walnut’s, a great wood to work with.

So why not? Of course, i’m going to sand all of the edges so that i don’t, get splinters and also because it’s. Nice now before i can actually stretch the painting i have to get all of my materials or nissanplos ready, and then i’m, going to take some time to square up the support.

These joints were open quite a bit, so i’m, going to close them because it’s better to start with a closed joint than an open one. And then i’m, going to use a square to make sure the painting is well square.

Then i’ll, take some nails and tack them in through the corners and it’s. Amazing. How many people think that these nails are permanent or are supposed to be permanent, but they get removed after i’m done, stretching they’re just there to make sure that this stretcher, doesn’t distort as i handle It and start tacking there’s, nothing worse than spending a whole bunch of time, tacking one or two edges just to realize that the stretcher has deviated, and now you have to undo all that work and start over.

Ask me how i know so with the painting laid down onto the support. I can align it and make sure that everything is just so and if you’re watching my face, you can see there’s a little bit of disappointment and that’s.

Me realizing just now at this point that the stretcher, doesn’t actually fit the painting you remember just a minute ago, i had to close those joints to square it up yeah. Well, apparently, when this painting was stretched to this support in order to make it fit, they just keyed the stretcher out until it matched the size and that’s, not really a good way of doing it, because it weakens the integrity of that joint.

Keep in mind there’s, no glue in these joints; no mechanical fasteners, so it’s just about surface area contact and whenever a joint is expanded, it weakens that joint, because there’s less surface area.

These joints were open about a quarter of an inch which is at the edge of the limit, so i tightened it up and now i’m, going to add some wood to one of the edges. If the gap were larger than a quarter of an inch, i would add wood to both edges, as opposed to just one but adding an eighth of an inch strip of wood to each side.

While that may seem more logical that eighth of an inch strip, wood has a more tendency to crack and split when i tack into it, whereas a quarter of an inch will hold those tacks better. So i’m, going to add that on and i’m going to glue it and then i’m, going to clamp it and let it sit overnight.

Nothing funny here: nothing, fancy nothing exotic, just good old-fashioned wood glue and lots of little clamps. I’m, not using a reversible adhesive, because this doesn’t need to be reversible and i want an absolutely strong bond so that’s it for today, and i’ll – have to come back tomorrow.

Remember way back when, in some previous video i said, more clamps is more better a lot of you ragged on me for my improper grammatical, english, but you know it’s. True, more clamps is more better and i have a lot of clamps.

So i’m, going to trim off the edges with a flush cut. Japanese saw and then i’m, going to add a slight bevel to the edge, and this is just going to make sure that the edge of the wood isn ‘ T sharp enough to cut the canvas or put unnecessary stress on it.

And now, finally, we can get to stretching the painting on a support that is square and fits the painting. And so at this point i caught my cameraman off guard because he wasn’t expecting me to take a mouthful of tacks.

And frankly, i wasn’t either, but you know every once in a while. You have to throw caution into the wind and live dangerously, and i do think that a mouthful of razor sharp tacks is dangerous. Actually it’s.

Not i do this all the time and the tacks are in my cheek, i’ll use my tongue and my lips to bring them forward and then use the magnetic hammer to remove them from my mouth and unless i deliberately try and swallow these Tacks there’s very little chance that they make it into my belly.

If that happens well, i ‘ Ve got pretty good health insurance anyhow, one of the benefits of spitting tacks, as the old-timers call it is that it’s really fast. I can move through this pretty swiftly, but also the slight bit of saliva, that is on the tack when attack penetrates into the wood.

Those wood fibers will swell and hold on to that tack, a little bit better. So, for a stretcher that is extra dry or just not holding on to those tacks very well, spitting tax has an incredible benefit.

In this case, i think i’m, doing it just to mess with my cameraman and you people, but also because it’s pretty fast and efficient. I am often asked about how much tension i’m, putting on a canvas when i’m, stretching it, and the answer is not a lot.

I’m, not looking to have this thing as taut as a drum. It is not a raw canvas that i am gonna prime, and so i don’t need it. Super super tight. What i’m looking to do is add just a little bit of tension, but mostly take up any slack.

That’s on the painting, and if i do it correctly, there are not going to be any dimples or ripples or waves in the canvas. In fact, just the opposite: it’ll, be flat and smooth. Now you all know how much i like tidy corners, [ Applause, ], and that is one tidy corner and an extra tack just makes sure that it stays tidy.

Now i use a smaller tack or a lighter weight tack for the back, and these i don’t spit, because these are really actually tiny and i probably would end up swallowing all of them. Instead, i’ll. Just use the magnetic hammer to pick them up off the table and these don ‘

T really provide much structural benefit a little bit, but they just make it look nice and clean. So i’m, going to remove those nails. They’re, not going to stay, and i’m going to keep them. In fact, i’ve, actually been using those nails for i think 15 years.

So i am way ahead of the curve on that one money well invested. I drilled some holes in those keys and i’m, going to use the fishing line to secure them and if you notice there’s, a shadow underneath the stretcher right there yeah, i put the painting on the stretcher the right way.

Not like the person who worked on this painting previously and that gap is important because it allows airflow and make sure that the canvas doesn’t touch the edge and get a crease. And if i do say so myself, i think my keys are better than the yardstick and now on to fill-in.

This painting is pretty smooth. In fact, there’s, almost no impasto, so filling it in is pretty easy. One of these days, i will have a piece that has heavy impasto and i’ll, show you how i attack that problem.

It’s, not all that complicated, but for now this is smooth, and so it will have to suffice. Now earlier i mentioned that the bridging was used where there was a gow and it was done for a specific reason.

Well, here it is when i apply the fill-in from the front it squeezes out through the back, and then i can take the putty knife and smooth it out and this kind of locks it in or keys it in and make sure that it’S not going to pop out or pop off it’s kind of the same technique that the old plasterers used to use in homes with wood lath.

You know they’d, put the lath on the wall with a little gap in between each row and then squeeze on the plaster with horse hair. It would ooze through and then it would harden as it sagged a little bit and it would lock it in and that made for a really strong wall.

So same principle, here you know, as i always say, you got to learn from other people who have come up with creative solutions. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s, no benefit to that. Now, once the fill and medium has dried, i can start to remove the excess and it’s, just done with a swab and a little bit of water, and this is also really important, because only where the missing paint is should the fill in Remain it’s, not okay, to just sand it smooth and then cover it all up with retouching paint, because there is a lot of retouching on this painting and because i want it to have a very particular type of finish.

I’m, applying the isolation medium now and there’s. A lot of confusion as to why i do, or don’t apply this resin. In this case, i want to simulate what the painting is going to look like when the final varnish has been applied and also give myself an even surface onto which the retouching paints will be applied.

This painting is actually kind of dry and washed out so to speak, and so, if i retouch directly on this, not only will the color be wrong, but the sheen well. That may also be kind of wonky, sometimes on paintings like this, where the paint is really dry, the final varnish sinks in in areas, and that just means that it kind of gets dry or washed out and it gets blotchy, and so this isolation layer.

Not only will simulate what the painting will look like upon final varnish and help me retouch, but it will also give a nice smooth surface for the final varnish to rest on and ensure that that has an even sheen, because, of course, that’s.

What everybody sees, and so it’s, super important now on to retouching and for this painting i figured it was about high time that i had a new palette. So after fabricating one i’ll lay down all of the colors.

I have, and actually i don’t use all of these colors, some of them completely unused. I prefer to mix my own, but i have them so i figured why not it’s. Also pretty now i’m, going to start by retouching the sprit sail lifts.

This is a part of the rigging on the front of the ship and, frankly, i have no idea what it does. Funnily enough, i don’t. Think robert cleverly had any idea either because, according to images that i’ve looked up and shipbuilders that i’ve consulted.

This depiction of rigging is actually not accurate. So, even though robert cleverly was known around the world for his skill in painting ships, funny thing is, he may have actually not known what he was painting now on to the sail.

This was really damaged and it had a lot of overpainting that i just couldn’t remove. So i’m gonna have to retouch over that old retouching and just make it visually better. Now my retouching can be removed.

So in the future, if somebody else has a technique that can remove that old old old retouching well, mine will come off to facilitate that. So after laying down the base color, i’m using a pinstripers brush to get some really fine lines.

It’s, much easier than using an artist’s brush, which is almost impossible for this type of detailed work. So before and after i think it looks better and this area remember this, if we think back you know, i think that the person who worked on this previously just painted a whole new cloud over here, which you know, is totally completely inappropriate so on to some More retouching mixing paints, trial and error back to the palette back to the canvas so on and so forth, but once it’s all done, and i’m happy with it.

Well, i can move on to the next step. If you remember, i laid down a synthetic resin layer specifically so that this varnish would go on evenly and give me a nice uniform sheen. So, with my brush fully charged it’s time for a quick, varnish and perfect.

No actually not. There are some spots of old retouching that looked like they were okay, but upon final varnish they changed color. So i’m, going back in just to camouflage them a little bit because they’re distracting.

In addition, even though i applied that isolation layer to simulate the final varnish to make color matching easier, some of my retouching has actually shifted a little bit, and so i have to go back in and correct it because well, i want to make sure it looks Perfect, it’s nice to have the opportunity to correct things when they need to be done now.

This is a little high stakes, because if this doesn’t work, i ‘ Ll probably have to take all of the varnish and retouching off and start all over again, i can’t, keep just adding on layers, and now i do want to put on one more final coat of varnish to cover up the retouching that i Just did and also to adjust the sheen, because i wanted it a little bit glossier and i’m using an hvlp spray system, because i can’t reapply that varnish via brush.

Otherwise, it will reactivate the first coating and the retouching that i did on top of it will get all muddy and smeared all over the place. And so i’m using a couple of different techniques to get a really beautiful.

Crystal effect and yep looks good on to the easel for some final glamour shots and i loved this project. I mean i say that about all of them and you probably don’t, believe me, but it’s. True, i really love doing this.

I love taking a painting that’s, been poorly treated in the past, either through neglect or well-intentioned, but ill-informed efforts and bringing it back to the artist’s. Intention so that the owner can view and appreciate the labor that the artist put into the painting and know that it’ll, be sound and stable for the next generation.

Now for this painting, we’ve, gotten back that beautiful sky. Some of the riggings are more clear now and we can see the delicacy with which cleverly painted all of these sailors on this pretty grand ship.

We’ve addressed some of the old work corrected it where it was poorly executed, removed, unnecessary work such as the lining the strip lining and some of that sloppy retouching and tried to rebuild the painting so that it looks more like what cleverly intended.

So before to after we can see that there’s, a pretty big change, the painting is now filled with much more light and is more vibrant and well. It just looks better and that’s. The whole point of conservation to make it stable and make it look well like the artist intended.

So, as always, thanks for coming along on this voyage, i had a lot of fun and i hope you did too and if you had any questions about this conservation, this painting or the processes you saw well, i’ll, create an epilogue video answering Those questions and it’ll, be available on my patreon.

So if that’s, something you’re interested in, go ahead and check it out.

Source : Youtube


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