Gamblin Artist Colors Collaboration at the Oregon Caves NM

Gamblin Artist Colors assisted the NPS in two ways on this project, and was the start of a friendship between Robert and Catherine Gamblin and Mitchell and Kate.

When we brought the pieces to the MPFC studio, we understood they had been stored in a building that had tested positive for Hanta Virus. We let them sit for indirect sunlight, and suited up in hazmat suites to clean them thoroughly. We stored the pieces in a previously unoccupied room which soon become our upholstery studio, above.

Jamee Linton-Kelly and Scott Gellatly graciously agreed to come to the MPFC finish studio with the entire line of Gamblin Oil Paints in order help us with our first pass at mixing paints. By doing so, they saved the NPS a good deal of money in that we’d have had to buy many tubes with which to experiment, but also, their expertise was invaluable!

It was a morning of mixing basic colors in a room filled with sample Mason Monterey. We came close in the first passes, and then after the experimentation Kate was able to tweak the mixtures a bit. They helped Kate figure out how much of the various larger tubes to purchase for the entire project.

Gamblin was also helpful in figuring out how to create the colors without the introduction of the original toxic lead white, which is now prohibited for use because of environmental laws.

MPFC also wanted to test the original colors, if at all possible, to add to the body of historical information MPFC has gathered.

Robert Gamblin, the founder of Gamblin Artist Color and Gamblin Conservation Colors, donated his time and industry to calibrating many of the colors on several original pieces of Monterey furniture. Mitchell and Kate went to the Gamblin factory (located in Portland), with broken parts and large pieces of furniture in hand, such as the Floral Horseshoe-Back shown above. The items selected were chosen for their range of colors on a given piece.

Above and below, Robert testing the colors. Below, pinpointing the test sites for the CM-2500d Konica Minolta Spectrophotometer to gauge.

While the tests are not definitive, it allowed us to confirm previous suppositions about the color ranges and to confer with a master of color pigments on the colors used in the finishes.

Robert is known for his work in the conservation community. Mostly, he confirmed conclusions, but he had a few ideas which were different than those previously held.

Yes, Kate wants that Munsell Color Tree, last image above!

The testing performed was problematic in that Mason colors are a layering of many pigments to achieve what Mason called “Straw Ivory,” “Smokey Maple” or any of the many finish colors offered. Still we chose our testing point carefully and Robert took several readings of hard-to-test areas.

After that, paints were purchased and Kate began mixing colors. As Kate moved forward, the base colors were tweaked until they matched in many types of lighting. Color boards were created of each of the colors mixed, shown above.

MPFC will be publishing a paper on the colors, pigments and finish buildup.