Friday, November 6, 2015

Neptune, after treatment

Neptue's head, at the front of the runners of the Siren sleigh

The side of the Siren sleigh at Versailles, after treatment

The effect of veined marble, as if the shell-shaped sleigh were made of a huge block of semi-precious stone, is created with transparent, colored glazes applied over silver leaf.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cleaned and Cracks Filled

The side of the Siren Sleigh
Fills are designed to be relatively soft, and to expand and contract with the wood along with changes in relative humidity.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cleaning the garland's gilt ribbon (at the side of the sleigh).

Working in the stables at Versailles, it's begun to get a little chilly -- for those of us without hair !
(photo credit Karim Noui).

The rear of the Siren sleigh, half clean.

The rear of the sleigh has the coachman’s seat (needing to be reupholstered).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"All right, Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my closeup."


Back at Versailles, cleaning The Siren.

She's pretty yet she's rotten...She needs me.

Was up in Scotland earlier this month to assess the condition of 2 figureheads.  They're in need of treatment, having been attacked by Serpula lacrymans (dry rot).  Pictured, is that of the HMS Active (1845).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The runners are cleaning up well.

The paint re-adhered wherever it was flaky ("consolidated"), initial cleaning of the runners involved the use of a kneadable eraser that we developed for the purpose (of methylcellulose base), followed by an aqueous cleaning.   Solvent cleaning will follow, in a later step.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cleaning Neptune's face

At the front of the runners of the Siren sleigh, Neptune's face has been mostly cleaned on one side (at left in the photo); the other side still has about 200 years of grime !

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Starting to clean the sleigh's runners.

After cleaning tests on the runners, I proceeded to clean them.
The left side of this photo shows the results (on the right the runner remains dirty).

Nobody's got bling like the King.

I returned to Versailles, after my short trip to Wales (I'm actually not working in the Big House, but in the stables).
The Palace front really looks grand with the gate gilded, and there's even gold decorating the ornament along the roof !

Sunday, August 9, 2015

CSI-type analysis will reveal secrets of the Versailles sleigh's painter.

The sides of the sleigh were evidently decorated with silver leaf having transparent, colored glazes of red, green and yellow over the silver.  This is all masked by a brown varnish.  How much can these colors be revealed without damaging them ? 
Samples tiny as a pinhead were examined under the microscope under visible light, and under different types of UV light yielding fluorescence (above, a sample from the side of the sleigh).  Layers invisible in normal light suddenly appear (I thank Jan Hobot of Cardiff University School of Medicine and the Centre of Biotechnology staff for use of their fluorescence microscope). Having travelled with me from France to Wales, this and other samples are now in Boston.  There, scientists Richard Newman and Michelle Derrick of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will use scanning electron microscopy and micro-spectroscopy to reveal technical secrets of the artist working at Versailles in the 1730s, and those of an early restorer (made of King Louis XV, the sleigh was likely restored for Louis XVI).

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Entire Box of Chocolates

"I know it's wrong, but sometimes eating the entire box is the only reasonable response" (Marie Antoinette's ghost in my ear).  After 19 days I have one 2-Day Air UPS box.  When will I have the other box of my equipment ?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I'll be conserving this sleigh at Versailles

For the reopening of the Coach Gallery of the Palace of Versailles, I will be conserving this sleigh, called the "Siren."  She who called Odysseus to potential disaster is seen at the prow, and Neptune's head is at the front of the runners.

The Coach Gallery of the Palace of Versailles

...is to be reopened next year after the gallery is enlarged, across from the palace in the Grandes Ecuries.


Back at Versailles !!

It's been 9 years since I worked for the Palace of Versailles, conserving their horse-drawn carriages and sleighs.  Back again to work !

Monday, June 29, 2015

Another altar, less ancient.

A video of the work we did in Scotland in 2014, conserving the sculpted reredos in the Scottish Episcopal Church in Ayr.



Ancient photo in the Ancient Art Museum (Namur, Belgium, 1997!)

Stabilizing flaking paint on a medieval altar.  Back when I had hair.  Photo credit goes to Myriam Serck-Dewaide, my fellowship supervisor in 1996-1997 at the Royal Institute for Artistic Heritage (IRPA) of Belgium.  Myriam was the head of the sculpture conservation lab then and soon thereafter became the director of IRPA.

Flying to Paris tomorrow. Versailles here I come !