Mason Monterey Decorative Nails

MPF Conservation conserved and/or restored two dozen pieces of Mason Monterey furniture from the Chateau at the Oregon Caves National Monument (NPS). Several of these pieces needed new decorative nails. Jim Calcagno, from Calcagno Foundry, shown right with Mitchell, reproduced the nails using several original nails as models. 

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Mitchell removed the nails carefully, hoping to save all original nails. If a shank breaks the decorative nail is useless.

As he pulls a decorative nail out with a parrot pincer, you can see the nail right next to the decorative nail, above right and right. Nails held the leather on and the decorative nails were placed right next to them. As decorative nails were removed, they were labeled for location, and stored for reuse.

Above, the decorative nails from the Yellow “River of Life” Mason Monterey Strapping Chair (right), which became part of the Museum Collection. Several nails were missing from this and other chairs!

Many nails were bent, but could be straightened, shown below. This probably happened when they were driven through leather and wood by maintenance workers without first drilling pilot holes.

Finally we had a count for new nails needed, and Calcagno Foundry was called to reproduce the nails.

Calcagno sent Kendall to create the molds in our studio, because contractually we could not send nails from the NPS to Calgagno. She used one nail and poured the molds, above.

From these molds Jim Calcagno created the new decorative nails. MPFC paid for extra decorative nails for other possible Mason Monterey needs in future.

Mitchell straightened bent nails by placing them into a vice; so as not to break the shaft from the head, he gently tapped each nail to carefully bend the heads back into their proper position using a leather hammer. Thankfully we did not lose any original nails in the process!

Existing holes were marked, pilot holes drilled, and the new nails applied, below.

The new nails were finished to match the original nails on each chair, using the decorative paint as was appropriate; once finished and installed it was impossible to tell which was new and which was a reproduction.

Right, a final note, Kendall and Jim were so easy to work with. Right, Jim holding a huge bear statue head. Our little nails were given the same attention as the huge statues!