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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

  Conservation Corner Back

Conserving Time

by Cheryle Harrison
Conservator, Pacific Conservators
Vancouver, BC

Grandfather clock, showing extensive
gold leaf Chinoiserie.
The familiar sound of a ticking clock and the rhythmic swing of a pendulum acquires a heightened sense of refined tranquility - when beauty combines with function.

A recent and memorable project is a voluptuously decorated chinoiserie grandfather clock. The clock was fabricated circa 1760-80 by English cabinetmakers, George and Kirk Skegby. The clock has an oak cabinet base and an overlay of a dark green-toned lacquer. Gold leaf raised motifs and hand painted designs embody images of flowers, birds, trees, pagodas, and stylistic geometric patterns.

Chinoiserie is decorative work influenced by Chinese art. It reflects an 18th century romanticism and re-interpretation of Chinese visual images idealized for European taste. The chinoiserie style was first transcribed onto Dutch porcelain. Prototype motifs of pagodas, figures, and landscapes were subsequently adopted for architecture, textiles, furniture, interior decoration, and the arts.

This was a dual discipline project, upon which two specialists focused their expertise: myself, a professional conservator, and Brian Dedora, a master gilder.

Many areas of the clock were in a fragile condition. Areas of lacquer and raised gilded motifs were tented, fractured, lifting, or missing. Previous repairs were extensive and of poor quality. Heavily applied non-original paint extended over intact original areas of the clock’s finish. Imitation gold paint covered areas of original gold leaf.

Reconstruction of the finely detailed hand-drawn images took a total of about 500 hours.

I first stabilized the tented, fractured, and cracked areas. Traditional materials were selected for the conservation treatment, to match the initial fabrication methods of the clock. Raised motifs were reconstructed by layering traditional gesso, shaping, and hand-carving the gesso for the finished motif. Previously applied paint was removed, and in many areas, the original finish was regained.

Brian Dedora's expertise shines in his selection of aesthetically and historically appropriate tone and type of gold leaf required for a project. The areas of repaint and loss were further prepared with an ochre bole layer and were re-gilded and sealed.

Very fine point brushes were used to reconstruct the hand drawn images of birds, foliage, and houses. Stylistic glazing – of custom mixed umber tones – was applied to enhance the forms and rhythm of the designs. Approximately 500 hours were utilized in the preservation of this clock.

The clock’s mechanisms function faultlessly, and conservation of this will clock will serve to beatify age with its perfect marking of time.

©Cheryle Harrison

 Fri, Feb 1, 2008