Recent project

A recent project, one of three deeply ornamented plaster frames, circa 1900, give or take a few decades. The original finish was water gilt karat gold high lights, and then bronze powder for the body. Either painted or dusted over an oil size. Two of the frames were at some time completely over painted. One, had it's original finish; the gold still visible but the body had tarnished to a deep brown. I've seen the deep brown, but also various shades of a muddy green, and a dull greenish gold. The frames had been stored in a basement for many years, with a lot of moisture damage. Corner ornaments were loose or missing, because of separated mitres, and much of the running ornament at the outside back edge of the frame was beyond repair, needing replacement.

These two images are of one of the frames installed as a "frame" for a wide screen TV. The TV is in a recessed area in the wall over the fireplace.The bright windows are due to a foggy day out over Lake Michigan. We're 40 some stories up.

This one, with a mirror, was installed into an alcove, that was not quite an 1 1/2" wider than the frame.  Just one of the many challenges. Here, trying to not smash fingers was the trick. 

Hanging hardware was plywood cleats, attached to the hollow wall with either 1/4"  x 20 zip toggles, or in the case of the TV frame, fine thread drywall screws anchoring into the metal studs of the recessed area. All of the frames were heavy, and this, with mirror was quite heavy. I chose plywood cleats because then I could build out the frame cleat with full size spacer blocks, of various thicknesses of plywood, to accommodate the inner frames sticking so far out the back. 

The painting was not hung, as I, having not seen the space, brand new construction, did not know that the customer desired it to hang in a stairwell. I found this out the afternoon before delivery and installation. Stairwells require special equipment, and hanging a painting and frame, 4'  x  7', and that probably weighs a hundred pounds, is very special. This job requires a 24" wide plank rated for a minimum of 500 pounds; not something that I keep in my tool kit.

The restoration of the frames was originally to be repairs, then regilding in metal leaf. As I got into them, I decided to remove the overpaints on the two frames that had been overpainted. Under the paint, there was a lot of the original gold. Rather than cover that over again, all of the highlights were cleaned of overpaint with acetone and sometimes paint remover, and sometimes lacquer thinner. New water gilt gold was applied to repairs, and bad areas of loss. The body was finished with a shellac based paint, using both mica pigments, and a small  amount of bronze powder pigment. Couldn't achieve the gold I wanted with out it. Most of the frames with the bronze powder finishes for the body, were at their glossiest, only semi-gloss, to achieve the look of matte and burnish gold. I tried for the same effect, a soft, matte body with the mirror like highlights. I was trying for 120 year old frames, with some wear and tear, but in very good shape.