Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Front Page Treasury

I was so happily surprised this morning to find out that my "Dream Library" Treasury was featured on the front page of Etsy last night. It's the first time one of my collections makes it to the FP and it feels incredibly nice to know that I was able to give some very talented artists the opportunity to sell their work. Congratulations to those that did sell their items -- and I promise I'll try harder for the others too :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Frame Restoration, Part Two

Frame before and after restoration.

As promised I’m back with a few more pics from the restoration of another frame. This one is my favorite, I bought it in a fair about a year ago but I never got around to restoring it until now. The procedure was the same as here, except for the reintegration of the color as this frame is painted black over a layer of metal leaf.

Making the mold for the missing parts using plasticine.

Filling the mold with gypsum; Removing the pieces from the mold; 
Shaping the pieces to fit in the lacunas.

Fitting the pieces onto the frame; 
Filling the fissures created between the added parts.

Detail of the remade ornament; Sealing the surface with shellac.

Cleaning and varnishing the frame.

 Applying color according to the original surface: over the metal leaf (left) and directly on the new surface (right).

Frame after restoration.

After finishing the frame I painted this small copy of a byzantine image that represents the Thrones (angels of Third Order). I like very much this representation but mostly I wanted to have a better reason to hang the frame on the wall besides the restoration itself.

And last but not least, the artist at work :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Last week my boyfriend had to go away for a few days to a meeting. I love when he goes on his trips for two reasons. First, I get to have the house all to myself for some time and second... he always brings me something nice and special from his trips. These wonders came from a street fair in Brussels. The leather suitcase is simply breathtaking, and the bottle… so peculiar! I’ve never seen such a thing before, does anyone know what this glass bottle dressed in leather was used for? Unfortunately it does not have a top anymore.
So maybe there are others who like to receive more girly girl stuff, like perfume for example, but that’s me, and nothing else would have made me happier :) Although yeah, some chocolate would also have been good…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day of Portugal

I thought I'd celebrate this holiday by posting some photos of the city where I live -- Vila do Conde, near Porto. We moved to this small, very calm city half year ago but I still have to discover it all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Frame Restoration, Part One

The other day I was bragging with my latest finds among which an antique frame in poor state of preservation. Now I’m back with photos from the restoration treatment. I wasn’t able to find much information on this subject on the net so I thought it would be interesting to share my experience. Not quite a tutorial, but I wanted you to see at least how I did it.

Antique frames are usually dusty and dirty. So the first thing to do is to clean the surface by removing the dust with a dry brush. This is done on both the surface of the plaster decoration and of the lacunas, with care to the parts that may move or detach from the support.
The next step is to consolidate the friable areas of the plaster with a solution of fish glue (or gelatin). The adhesive (a 10% solution will work) is mixed with water and then heated until it dissolves. Ideally this should be done in bain-marie to keep the temperature below 100ºC (212ºF), as boiling will affect the adhesive properties.
The solution is then applied by brushing in the friable areas or injected in the cracks or detachments of the plaster.

The large missing parts of decoration are reconstituted using molds of existing similar parts. I made the molds using modeling clay because it was what I had available, but silicone or a casting resin will work best. Generally the mold should be a bit larger than the missing part so the desired shape can be cut out once the plaster is dry.

Antique frames were made of plaster based on gypsum or chalk and glue but gypsum works best for the reconstitution of the missing parts as it has a shorter setting time. A bit of glue may be added to the gypsum to enhance its resistance and elasticity.
When the gypsum is dry the modeling clay can be removed. The piece can then be shaped to fit into the lacuna of the frame. To attach it into its place use wood glue (PVAc).

For smaller areas that can be remade without using the mold, a filler based on chalk and fish glue (10%) can be applied in layers with a brush until the desired shape is obtained. The same filler can be used for the cracks and lacunas formed at the joins between the original and the reconstructed parts. After drying, the surface of the fillings can be polished by sanding or smoothen with a wet cotton swab. The excess of plaster and other eventual marks should be removed in the same way.

Next step is to retouch the restored parts so they fit the original. This frame has golden metal leaf, so the new parts had to be gilded also. Metal leaf is applied by the help of an adhesive, but before applying it the surface must be sealed so the adhesive does not penetrate into the plaster. I used shellac applied in two layers as a sealant.
After all the restored areas were gilded, I applied a patina made of varnish and pigment. It may be quite difficult to obtain shades very similar to the original in case of metal leaf retouching. To ease the matching of the shades I sometimes use gold or bronze dust in combination with the pigments and varnish.

And voilà the frame after restoration.

Once the restoration practice took over my workshop I decided to work on another two frames at the same time. I’ll post some more photos soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Once Upon a Time on the Front Page

Last night my 'Once Upon a Time' Book made it to Etsy's Front Page. I woke up to a sale this morning and for that I must thank GwenR for her gorgeous, well made treasury. She makes beautiful jewelry so if you get the chance please visit her Twelve Beads and White Butterfly Jewelry shop.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I should have been an antiques dealer ;)

I bought these last week in a second hand shop and I must say they were a bargain. The frame is really degraded and at the present moment it’s in my workshop awaiting restoration. It has hand-blown glass with small imperfections that make beautiful light waves. The print is from 1916. I really love this type of old frames and I already have a few of them collected. I dream of the day when I’ll be using them for faithful copies of old masters which I would paint myself studying their methods and techniques.

I’ll post some photos taken during restoration soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Mood for Books

I’m back in my workshop after being away for like 5 months...? And I have such a mood for making big solid books!! These are my latest creations. I’ve been thinking on how to put them together for a long time. During these last months I’ve been accumulating -- searching and gathering all hardware I could find to use on my books. But it’s really difficult to find vintage fittings that would suit best, so for these two books I mostly used new hardware with antiqued appearance but why not? I’m quite happy with the result.