Friday, May 28, 2010

Return to the Island

by EJF, Island-hopper

I just returned from two days on the Island - no, not the mysterious island beloved of LOST fans, but rather Peebles Island, home of New York State Parks' Bureau of Historic Sites, our strategic partner in collections care and conservation. 

 The expert staff of conservators, curators and administrators at Peebles Island is well along with their multi-year process of readying the Martin House collections - furniture, textiles, decorative objects and prints - to serve in implementing the furnishings plan for the Martin House, once Phase 5 of restoration is complete.

On this most recent visit to Peebles, I spent the lion's share of time in the paper conservation lab, working with conservator Michele Philips on issues surrounding the twenty-some Japanese prints in the collection.  In order to preserve the badly faded and deteriorated originals, we have commissioned giclee reproductions - digital, color copies printed on Japanese paper - for display in the Martin House.  Michele and I scrutinized preliminary proofs of these reproductions submitted by Digital Artist's Space to give them feedback on fine-tuning the colors, with a view to making the final prints as faithful to the originals (circa 1907) as possible.

I also spent some of my time on the Island with furniture conservator David Bayne, discussing various outstanding issues in the repair, stabilization and cleaning of wood furniture pieces in the collection, as well as planning the reproduction process for a number of pieces not represented in the collection.  The latter is particularly challenging (not to mention fascinating), as it entails a good deal of design extrapolation from scant evidence in order to reproduce missing pieces such as the library and dining tables and "Morris" chairs.  David and I will be seeking the services of one or more skilled furniture makers for these reproductions - craftsmen attuned to Frank Lloyd Wright's unique designs and often unorthodox methods of construction. 

My visit also included consultation with the decorative arts conservator and curators - all invaluable partners in addressing the myriad technical and interpretive challenges inherent to conserving and displaying this unique collection.  


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