Monday, December 27, 2010

The View From Above (Part Two)

       We last left our intrepid restorers in “The View From Above (Part One)” with erasers in hand as they began the cleaning phase of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Staunton, Virginia. We rejoin them now as they set forth upon… “Aerial Inpainting: Elation and Aggravation.”
Since the ceiling’s paint was matte, we used flat water-based paint to remain consistent. The quick drying time and lack of fumes were benefits while the dramatic change in color as the paint dried presented a challenge. So, in addition to our usual painting paraphernelia we brought along a very powerful, very loud hairdryer so that we could quickly find out if we’d matched a color correctly. No doubt there were people below who thought we were operating a beauty salon as a sideline. We would mix the color we needed and put a spot of it on the wall adjacent to the one we were duplicating, and then dry it with the hairdryer. I was never able to get it right on the first try and often not on the tenth, but eventually I would have a match.
To replace missing areas, we needed to cut new stencils. These we made out of thin acetate.  Below is an image showing the plaster and paint damage that was in evidence.  The image on the right is after restoration was completed.

The stencils were also used to replace areas that were previously restored with free-hand painting.  

Although our plan of restoration was clear, there were surprises along the way.  For example,as my husband, Bill Lapham, was touching up  some motifs along an arched window, he noticed a textured area that had been covered by the background of blue paint. The raking light coming through the windows at that particular moment provided the perfect opportunity to see a large and elaborate motif that had been covered up during previous repairs. Due to the texture, Bill was able to trace the pattern and recreate the stencil. It was an exciting historical discovery and improved the aesthetic quality as well.  

The Project took approximately three months.  It was definitely one of the largest projects we had undertaken and one of the most memorable.  We consider ourselves fortunate to have been involved in reviving one of the jewels of Staunton.

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