Today, work went on as it has the past week and a half. Group one mended tears and started testing what method was best for removing water stains. Group two weaved loose threads back into the canvas along the edges and also tested water stain removal methods. Group three glued flaking pieces of bark back onto the wood on the back of the tree and consolidated split ends of the cardboard. They also weaved loose threads back into the canvas of the border and consolidated one more time. The really special thing about this day was that after we were finished at the workshop we got guests for dinner.
The blog may have been silent, but that does not mean that we, the students of the summer school, have been idle. During the weekend, we and our fellow students have survived on lentils and have been working hard on our projects. Mainly because this Sunday was our chance to showcase our work in progress to the public, and although it was a short day it was multifaceted and exciting.
Today was quite an interesting and full packed day.
The big moment has come! Today was the day that we all could begin our practical work. Everyone was pretty excited and happy. Mapping and measuring are behind us.
We are beginning with a “Guten Morgen!”, go over to a “Takk for mat!” and finish with a “Na zdrowie!”
Today, we met a series of challenges, but none of them too big to overcome.
Monday July 30
Summer school, finally, here we are. The day was filled with a lot of information. The students arrived yesterday and like last year the group consists of people from the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Faculty of Fine Arts in Torun, the Technische Hochschule of Technology and Art Sciences in Cologne and the University of Oslo, Institute of Archaeology, Conservation and History.
Since we have mostly been focused on consolidating the canvas these past days, we now had to work on the finer details. Some paint flakes are really hard to fix with the airbrush. We therefore consolidate some of them manually. With the help of Japanese tissue, laid carefully on top of the paint layer, we applied Methocel A4C from above with a brush. This was then gently pushed through the paper with a rubber color shaper. Methocel is a cellulose based glue and remains on the surface. It is therefore a useful product when attaching loose paint flakes onto the canvas again. The Japanese paper also protects the paint layer from possible damage by conservation tools.
This day actually started the evening before with an absolutely wonderful dinner prepared by Douwtje van der Meulen and Vilde Dalåsen, the Indonesian inspired Dutch dish of Rijsttafel, or “rice table” in English. They had prepared 8 delicious dishes from scratch, presenting a sumptuous meal topped by a Spekkoek, a spice cake somewhat similar to pumpkin pie. Now, Douwtje has a personal motto that a person who knows how to cook, will also get the knack of handling chemicals in the lab. Judging by her cooking, she must be really good in the lab.
Today we could finally start to consolidate our paint layers after the large amount of preparations in the form of documentation, cleaning and testing. We were all really excited and worked like bees right from the beginning of the day. Mixtures were prepared and all the required equipment were laid out ready for action.
Today there were a lot of things to do before we finally could start to consolidate the paint layers.
Today we not only focused on the documentation of the borders and testing, but we had an excursion to the Rød mansion and prepared for Open Day on Sunday.
Our polish professor Elzbieta Szmit-Naud from the Nicolaus Copernicus University arrived yesterday. She is a specialist in conservation of the theatre scenery.
The group of students are divided into two teams, working on separate borders. The groups communicate regularly with each other, sharing information about damages and exchanging ideas about how we may treat the objects.
Today, we continued documenting the border and all its details. The border has a lot of holes, paint-loss and tears – and all of this has to be documented in a systematic way. We do this by mapping them out on plastic sheets with an overview of the painting drawn on it. Each sheet represents a different kind of damage. This is in addition to photographs and detailed report-writing.
The day was spent documenting the condition of the borders both visually and photographically.
Today, was the first day of the fifth summer school project at Fredrikshald theatre.
From 6-18 August 10 students from Germany, Poland and Norway and their lecturers will continue working on the conservation of the theatre scenery 'The Woods'. This year two borders will be conserved. Every day students will write about the activities that they undertake. Do follow us.
Continuous rolling the border up and down has resulted in frayed edges that need securing to protect it from loss of threads.
Wednesday turned out to be an extraordinary day. We started working in two groups – the students working previously on the backdrop joined the border- and the side wing groups. With more hands the work went faster and we managed to finish one side wing. The good news did not stop there.
In conservation, the removal of water stains is a challenging problem.
We were caught by a rainstorm while walking down to the theatre in the morning. We were drenched and our wet clothes were hung to dry in front of all the heaters in the storage.
In conservation we need to consider future environments and situations that the objects will be exposed to, and therefore employ preventive treatment measures to ensure preservation.
On the side wings we had to restore a lot of open seams and holes in the canvas. Due to the large format of the theatre sceneries, their age, use and variable storage and climate conditions, holes have appeared and seams have weakened and opened over time.
To get a better understanding of the history of the theatre and how the sceneries of Fredrikshald theatre were used, the students had the pleasure of meeting Jon Nygaard, a professor at the Center of Ibsen Studies in Oslo.
Our first proper workday consisted of continuing the consolidation of the paint surfaces of the side wings and the backdrop.