Restoration of the Shades at the Oregon Caves NM, 2

This is a continuation of the reproduction of the overhead hanging Mason Monterey lampshades to be hung in the Chateau Lobby at the Oregon Caves National Monument. This page discusses the production after assessment, excavation, and testing of original lampshades. This is page two; to begin at the beginning start here.

For the production, the entire finish room was dedicated to lampshades, above.

The huge sheets of paper were patterned and cut a little oversized, leaving excess around them so we had places to handle the shades while working.

Because of the amount of shellac used, a mask was worn while we painted the shellac. Several layers was applied until the color was just right, shown left.

After the shellac cured, Kate began to apply the charcoal and oil pastel sticks which were ground onto the fine sandpaper, images 1-2 above.

First, it was brushed onto the surface, then the hand-applied moving in an arbitrary pattern onto the outer surfaces of the new shade, images 3-7 above and right.

Mimicing “arbitrary” patterns, that is, non-patterned patterns created by environmental deposits over time was particularly challenging because the mind most always tends to try to find pattern and create pattern. Kate worked hard to create an arbitrary pattern, right.

Absorene Paper and Book Cleaner was used to lift excess color, images 1-2 above, allowing us additional control relative to adjusting accreted tonal patterns.

Gamblin’s Cold Wax Medium was rubbed onto the completed shade to set the loose color, images 3-4 above. Cold Wax Medium will cure and become a finished topcoat.

The last image, left, shows a close up of a finished shade blank.

The blanks stacked, above, were left to cure for several days.

Our lacing was treated from earlier Mason Monterey furnishings, images above. We believe much of the lacing on the broken shades was what we call original, shown left. (Ignore the second generation lacing, which is not applicable to the shades.) The new lacing is shown untreated on the left. We “painted” an entire roll of new leather lacing using a glaze created for the Mason Monterey furniture, shown right, and hung it to dry for two weeks.

Oversized brass fasteners (difficult to find today) were scuffed and brushed with Old Wood Paint from the Monterey Collection, and left to cure as well.

Finally the blanks were cured and ready for assembly. They were cut to the actual size of the shades.

Holes were punched in the pattern of the originals for the lacings, above left.

Four brad cuts were made on each shade blank, above right.

The process of lacing the shades, above.

A close up of the dyed lacing shown left. Knots were replicated following the images of the original knots, shown left.

The brads fasted the shade blanks, and the process of attaching them to the bottom, then top rings from broken shades commenced, shown above.

Finally, six new replicated shades were created as planned, and MPFC retained enough paper for the NPS to create everal more.

A comparison to the original, which also went into the treatment report for comparison historically, is shown below the six shades above.

Below, our finished shade versus the historic Mason shade. As stated, the paper was not a perfect match, but created the textural quality of the original shades, and from the floor, the inside of the shades have the soft glow of the originals. From across the room they matched the historic shades very well.

Image of the historic Mason Monterey lampshades in the Chateau Lobby, above.

Above, the historic Mason Monterey lampshade, left, and MPFC’s replication, right.
Below right, a poor replication attempt.

Finally, a note about conservators who abide by the ethics of the AIC, why we write and offer reports, and why we work with other conservators for the best outcome of the items.

In the next round of lampshades after MPFC’s, a private funding was offered to the Friends of the Oregon Caves to create lampshades. Friend’s hired a a man who is an architectural preservationist, not a conservator, to oversee the creation of the shades.

MPFC freely offered them our actual reports and samples so the lamps would match somewhat. Sadly, this firm shunned our samples and our assistance, and the firm that created the shades, shown bottom right, created a smaller shade with the wrong angles, which from the floor reads bright white instead of the warm natural color. It appears they did not treat the inside at all. Across the room the exterior also looks beige.

MPFC and the curatorial staff inspected the shades, and began to wonder if they simply purchased them from the internet.

This serves as a warning as to what can happen in historical properties when accurate formulas and techniques are not used or even considered, and when uneducated peoples are allowed to move forward simply because they have money to throw at a problem, without curatorial and/or conservationist oversight.

As these will not be replaced for another 75 years, this is what is now seen in the Chateau rather than the consistent warm lighting of the historic shades shown above.

Understand the smaller white-beige shades are not ours!

Thankfully, a historic whole Mason Monterey Lampshade is now in the Museum Collection.