Mimenta for Visual Arts

 

 
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Art Restoration

Works on Paper - Care and Restoration

Art on paper requires different treatments to preserve and restore it compared to oils and acrylic paintings. Paper is made of plant or rag fibres which deteriorate over time. An acidic atmosphere, moisture and strong ultraviolet light will accelerate this process. This deterioration turns the paper brittle and fungal deterioration appears as small brown spots, called "foxing". The damage is irreversible but can be slowed by storing the work in a dry slightly alkaline environment.

Conservation framing techniques are vital for preserving works on paper. The work is backed with "Conservation Board"; a board that has been made entirely of rag fibre and is impregnated with Calcium Carbonate to keep it in a slightly alkaline state.

Conservation Matboard comes in a wide range of colours
Conservation Matboard comes in a wide variety of colours

The work is viewed through a window cut in a surround (called a mat) that is made of conservation board with the outer face tinted to compliment the colours of the work. Because the glass does collect minute quantities of moisture from the atmosphere with temperature changes (condensation), it is advisable to add a second mat to distance the artwork away from the glass. This second mat is also coloured allowing some interesting colour combinations to highlight complimentary colours in the artwork. The whole sandwich of boards and artwork is then placed under glass and framed with sealed backing. Not only does conservation framing preserve the work but give even the rattiest picture a visual boost.


Conservation Framed Picture Conservation Framed Picture

Conservation Framing does not mean the artwork has to be boring, as this photo and watercolour demonstrate. With the wide range of colours of Conservation Mat board and using double mats, you can add stunning effects to the presentation of your work. Remember you can safely add on the cost of any quality and effective framing to the final price of the art work and recover your framing costs because it makes the finished work look so much better.

Damaged and deteriorated art works on paper cannot be restored, however all is not lost. As a last resort we can process it the same as we do for photographs.

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Photographs

In this example we'll take an old and damaged photograph and digitally re-master it back to it's former glory.

With today's computer digital technology, rather than restore the original work, we re-create it!

 

Old damaged photo ....................................Old photo digtally repaired

A 1907 damaged photo is digitally copied, re-mastered and reprinted to its former glory.

Using today's technology, it is possible to digitally copy artwork on paper, to convert it to a digitally stored image that can be manipulated on a computer.

With special computer software, we can digitally remove foxing and other damage. Finally with access to a wide range of specialised papers, we can print out a copy of the re-mastered artwork.

In this way we can create an image of the artwork fully restored. Mimenta is limited to copying and printing works up to A4 size but there is no restriction on the size of the artwork, once it is digitally copied to create a digital image file.

This detracts from the monetary value of the artwork because it is no longer an "original" work of art, but a print; however the image itself is retained for posterity.

This is particularly relevant to old photographs, since their value usually lays in the image and the information recorded there, rather than as a work of art. As you can see from the above example, the results can be stunning.

Using this method, old black and white photographs can be re-coloured and coloured and black and white photographs can be transformed into "Sepia Toner" photographs. We have had several requests for "colour to sepia" and "black and white to Sepia" transformations from families creating a family gallery and wanting all the pictures to match in tone.

"Sepia Toner” was an additional developing process used to convert silver nitrate and coloured photographs that would fade with age, into a more permanent colour that did not fade. For this reason there are few old black and white silver nitrate photos left, in good condition. The picture above is an old silver nitrate image and you can see the where the dark background is turning a metallic grey as the silver nitrate oxidises with age.

Backyard colour photo
The original colour photo

Sepia Toners have a unique quality of adding age to a picture without losing any detail. There's more to it than simply changing the colour palette on the computer. When you do that you get a fuzzy image like this:

A botched sepia phot of the backyard
In the wrong hands, converted to a sepia for that old look,
it lacks clarity and loses a lot of definition.

But done by an expert, the clarity and definition make every tiny detail stand out, just like the early full format camera photos did . . .

The backyard in sepia
Done by an expert it regains its clarity and looks like
a genuine antique photograph.

Now you know it was done by the experts!


We take the same meticulous care and pride in our photo re-mastering, that we take in all our artwork.

Ornate Bar

For more information on Photo restorations, go to our contact page and email your questions.