art, Our Lady of the Wood Project, Uncategorized

Happy Mother’s Day

20170514_113626Happy Mother’s Day! I’m sure many of you think your mothers are the best, but you’re all wrong. Mine is. No questions. Not up for debate. Thank you very  much…

…is what I would’ve said had Mary had not already held that spot, sorry, Jesus.

I very much dread to think what my life would have been if it hadn’t been for her strength, her intelligence, and her wisdom.

Such wisdom including, but not limited to:

Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.

Be brave like a lion. Lions are mighty. They’re right. They have nothing to fear except for perhaps people with guns. They are not like the gazelles cowering in the grass or the wild dogs attacking everything in sight.

Her hard work and sacrifice being the mother of a large family isfullicon something that I will always admire.

She taught me the importance of being kind, understanding, and tolerant of others. She taught me that I never needed to be afraid. Not of other people, other faiths, and most importantly, not afraid to follow my dreams even though it required a field of study I greatly struggled in high school (chemistry) and the great distances I will travel to achieve them.

But most importantly, she taught me that I must always strive to a better me. She never looked at me and said, “Why can’t you be more like ____.” She always accepted me for who I was, and encouraged me to grow accordingly.

Now, some of you may remember that I tried to do a project for Lent. Well, I got a good head start on it. I’ve been spending about an hour every day on it, but my grandfather past away the last week of Lent, and I wasn’t able to finish it then. I did, however, get it finished in time for Mother’s Day.

 

So, in about an hour, I’m going to be driving over to Mom’s to do a big reveal of this painting and place it in the niche in the house (hence the shape of the painting).

Please follow this amazing woman’s blog, Simply Catholic.

It’s customary for religious painters to put their hometown/monastery/family members, etc in their paintings. I’m no exception:

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It’s a bit difficult to see, but that’s Mt. Hood in the background.
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Conservation, MPF Conservation Internship

Medieval Portland: Photo documentation

I checked out a camera from the Portland State University VA office hoping to get some better shots of the poetry book. I was highly discouraged from using flash (for good reason), but if I made do with what I could.

Unfortunately, since I left, it looks like the damage has gotten slightly worse. The gold leaf on your right in the image is now lifting just a little bit!

I wanted to talk a little bit about photography in the art conservation field: I’ve had two different experiences with my two different internships. At Robert’s lab, we had a set-up which involved placing the object in a white tent and playing with lighting to get the best results. Below, you can see my first project which is against a white background with a color strip to fix the color balance when the photo is put in for editing.

before

 

I also was fortunate enough to order the second edition to “The AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation” on sale for $20 from $60. I’ll hopefully be getting it sometime in the middle of November at the latest, and when I do, I’ll read it and post more information, but basically what I’ve learned from every conservator I’ve ever talk to is that documentation is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the conservation process. Sometimes, even more so than the actual treatment itself.

Everything you do has to be reversible in case future discoveries find more effect forms of conservation. This is why it’s important to document everything you do for future conservators to learn from, fix, and otherwise learn about what happened to the object.

Photos have to be taken BEFORE any treatments are made, and then several process photos are highly recommended to show other fieldworkers your work as well as proving to a potential client that you did indeed put the extensive work into the object that you did.

 

 

Conservation, MPF Conservation Internship

Imperial Monterey Session 2: Gunk Scraping!

In my past conservation projects, I learned that a crucial part about conservation may involve fixing past repairs, usually made by owners and sometimes fix-it shops. Weeks 2 and 3 of my internship at MPF Conservation were such a reminder of this fact.

During the second week, Katie and I went shopping for strapping leather at Oregon Leather for the Imperial Monterey Chair and a Stickley footstool. This was, I’m ashamed to say, my first time inside the shop. Oregon Leather had a delightfully odd set up with half of the first floor consisting of shelves filled with boxes of leather working tools, decorations, accents, and countless other things. The second half ha more leather jackets in one place than I’ve ever seen. There were also random piles of animal horns, shells, bones, and tails.

As I stood looking at the ox horns, I thought how cool it would be to do a leather working project like Visigoth or other such Viking armor.

I really love being in stores like this. It really had my head buzzing with ideas for costumes and leather crafts.

But we weren’t there to make armor that my Viking ancestors may or may not have worn, we were there for furniture parts!  We specifically needed Vegetable dyed grade A leather that was about 3 mm in depth. As much as we could, Katie and I tried to use as few hides as possible.

When purchasing leather, I learned that texture is a vital part of the selection process. When dying the leather, any textural imperfection such as stretch marks, bite marks, barb wire marks, and other such imperfections can exacerbate in the dying process. It’s no big deal for Monterey furniture; the blemishes give the leather more of a Wild West appearance. However, such blemishes for a Stickley footstool are undesireable and this split of leather would be used for both.

Of course, there were only a few available hides, and none of them were exactly perfect. Still, we had to make do because the leather we were getting was not something that most other leather crafters here in Portland used terribly often. The next shipment would not have been for a very long while.

During both these sessions, my assignment involved taking the chair apart and turning it into rubble. (Okay, not real rubble, but all parts were disassembled to allow for reparation of tenons and regluing with hide glue.)  It was challenging because people in the past have either tried to enhance the adhesion process (poorly) or reinforce it with multiple unnecessary screws.

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Like this one! What is up with this? I can’t… I can’t even…

I took apart the seat portion of the chair. It was a relatively simple task. I had to remove several screws and nails and take photographs as I took the chair apart.

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… a CARPENTER NAIL? Are you serious now? This was fun to remove, actually. 🙂

I took apart the back on the third week. This was the much trickier task. A past repair was done to it which involved using what Mitchell inferred as an acrylic base craft glue.

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Vinegar and Syringe

This was most fortunate because had it been an epoxy adhesive, I probably would have needed to use more toxic solvents. As it was, I only needed to use warm vinegar and inject it into the glue and screw holes using a 20mm needle syringe.

 

 

 

 

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This is the chair’s back. I labeled each piece.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with furniture terms, tenons and mortises are a type of joint that join furniture pieces together.  You can see an example, below.

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Left: Mortis/Right: Tenon

When the back was taken apart, Mitchell and I took a look at the mortises. Mitchell believed the mortises were formed using Forstner bits. This was unusual for an Imperial Monterey-style item because Forstner bits were used by hand rather than manufactured by machine in Los Angeles, California.

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The rest of my day consisted of scraping out the gunk from the tenons and mortises.

After scraping out the gunk, the next steps involve cleaning glues and the finish on the various parts.  Ideally, my next step is woodworking which would involve finding compatible wood and rebuilding the badly damaged or rotted tenons; this is going to be delayed until Mitchell can fully supervise me.  Next week I will finish up cleaning, and begin to work the leather:  Stay tuned!

© Ashley West.  My blog posts may be reposted; please link back to AshleyWestArtBlog.  Photos are property of MPF Conservation.