Why vintage restoration?
This vintage restoration refers to a heritage conservation treatment that arose on the occasion of a visit to assess the rehabilitation intervention of a specific cultural asset. It is a handmade wallpaper from the beginning of the 20th century. And “Vintage” restoration,
because the owner wished to limit this intervention. It was his wish to try mainly to repair the breakages and damage, which had occurred recently, and which were very serious indeed. This treatment was in no way intended to restore the appearance of the cultural property beyond its state of conservation in the 1920s. For the same reason, it was not his wish, in any case, to renovate and/or replace the material completely, despite the deplorable state of conservation in which it was found.
State of conservation
The wallpaper still has traces of the original wallpaper underneath. The wall was not carefully treated and prepared beforehand when the last wallpapering was done. As a result, unrepaired cracks and gaps appear underneath. This wallpaper covers a previous wallpaper that is occasionally visible. This indicates that the previous wallpaper was not completely removed when it was papered over again. Hidden defects that have been preserved for a long time and are very difficult to remedy without almost completely altering the whole. Therefore, the conservation of the newer, current wallpaper also requires conservation with the defects of the previous wallpaper.
A chequered material history
In addition to the hidden defects, the state of repair was quite deplorable, with serious damage due to cracks caused by building work and leaks. The leaks had caused the wallpaper to peel in several places on the ceiling. And in vertical areas of walls, door and window lintels, etc., it had peeled off due to loss of adhesion of the original wallpaper glue. Fortunately the raw material of the paper is good, with good grammage and consistency. Some fragments could be removed and preserved for later repositioning, before the masonry work was carried out.
Another important incident in the planning of the intervention was the cracks. The cracks were varied and the cracks in the four corners were considerable. These cracks were caused by severe structural movements of the building. After stitching and stabilisation, the cracks could be filled and sealed. But in some cases the wallpaper had torn where the crack had opened. And in many others it had peeled off, separated, shifted and twisted. Also due to the same movements, the cracks in many cases had become steps and the wallpaper in these areas had been broken in an irregular and spectacular manner.
Old but worthy
The wallpaper was treated in accordance with the client’s instructions, to keep it old and antique but without tears and faults. In other words, to return it to its location and positioning, but with the signs of its age, old but dignified. Accepting the partial irreversibility of the future of this cultural asset in such adverse circumstances for its good conservation. But also taking advantage of the good original material, artisanal, as this facilitated repair in many cases.
The priority was therefore to reintegrate the paper that had been separated and to reposition the fragments that had been removed prior to the work so as not to damage them. Significant areas of gaps and faults were chromatically reintegrated to give continuity to the tone of the background and the designs. There were also many areas with stains and run-off due to episodes of damp and seepage. As it was impossible to clean and remove these marks and stains, they were minimised with glazes and stencils of the local colour. The original background colour was very uneven due to the passage of time, wear, deposits, smoke, etc. The tone was applied irregularly and unevenly in the colour applications, both by reintegrating in the gaps and correcting with glazes and stencils. Areas with missing motifs in series and without replacement were replicated with stencils and freehand.
This was done according to the criteria of chromatic reintegration for cases of public exhibition and decorative aesthetics. The work must therefore be completed so that it can be understood as complete and coherent in the private sphere.
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