Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!


Ask Your Linenbacking & Restoration Questions



  • CharlieCharlie Member, Administrator, Moderator, Game Master Posts: 6,516 admin
    You need a table.  I prefer to wash on a table not in a tray.  I soak all my chems in the poster between mylars and then rinse with an unlevel table.  Trays are ok and I’ve used to remove backings but they get dirty quick and I prefer to keep the water fresh and flowing for rinse.

    You need a roller or a squeegee to massage the poster onto the masa.  You’ll need sponges or microfiber towels to wet the canvas/mass and to clean up.  Wheat paste of course has to be cooked and you have to buffer with Calcium Carbonate - 10% by weight.
    That second mouse in the bowl of cream we call life...
  • VulgarVulgar Member Posts: 15 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    Thanks Charlie! What type of Deionized water should I be using? I'm seeing Type II, III, IV, etc. Also if anyone knows where the best prices on masa paper and mylar are that would be really helpful. Orvus paste ok to use?
  • EisenhowerEisenhower Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 4,316 admin
    I use distilled water, for the final rinse, in all the chems and in the wheat starch. I get the water at walmart or local Kroger store. For other rinses, I use our tap water; it is fairly base and has a good level of calcium in it-I had a report sent to me by our town water treatment manager. 

    For the supplies you mentioned-i get my Mylar, Masa paper, wheat starch glue (to cook), cal carb and orvus from Talas Conservation in NY. Im sure you can find lower prices out there, but they have good quality. I get my canvas 60”x30 yrds from Jerry’s Artarama. 

    Yeah, you’ll need a good size wash table for larger posters. Mine is 48x60. The only time I use a tray to soak a poster is for deacidification. 
  • CharlieCharlie Member, Administrator, Moderator, Game Master Posts: 6,516 admin
    What he said...
    That second mouse in the bowl of cream we call life...
  • VulgarVulgar Member Posts: 15 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    I'm building a 4ftx8ft table, plan to buy linoleum top from Home Depot. Linoleum ok? Calcium Carbonate, so that's cooked into the wheat paste at 10% the total weight? Sorry, that's the first I've read of using that chemical. I must have missed that part of the process.
  • VulgarVulgar Member Posts: 15 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    Thanks again guys, you've been very helpful.
  • CharlieCharlie Member, Administrator, Moderator, Game Master Posts: 6,516 admin
    No just add 10% by weight to the wheat paste before you soak and cook.

    wheat paste need to soak for at least an hour.  Cal hydroxide needs to dissolve overnight
    That second mouse in the bowl of cream we call life...
  • bewdynewkbewdynewk Member Posts: 11 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    edited January 5
    Around 1994 I read about a Los Angeles restorer by the name of Dan Strebin. His work from all reports was highly regarded. Anyone know if he's still restoring?

    I found the article fascinating because Dan's method varied in two major respects -

    (i) he "pre-shrunk" the cotton canvas which he claimed had the same effect as did  stretching it. There was no explanation of the process but I can only assume this means washing and then drying under some heat to produce the shrinkage - nice big laundromat machines for one-sheets and larger perhaps? No stretching over a frame certainly sounds appealing.

    (ii) after any bleaching and deacidification, the poster was then mounted to the canvas using starch paste and "Japanese paper"- but in a cold vacuum press! 

    He said he was the only one he knew of that used this method. If indeed his work was highly thought of, then it follows that the method must work... or are all his posters now just wrinkled horrors? 

    It sounds feasible to me - stretching the canvas and then wetting it by mounting the masa plus poster seems to be a similar idea to shrinking and mounting - and a vacuum press or bag will surely flatten anything!

    I'd love to hear if others have tried this or know any more details.

  • EisenhowerEisenhower Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 4,316 admin

     Have heard of Dan Strebin, large collector? didn't know he conserved and backed posters.

    1- can't imagine mounting a poster to anything other than a firm/stable surface; first to mount, then to restore any issues. Isn't "unprimed" canvas the same as "washed"? I may be confused/uninformed.

    2- have never heard of anyone using a "cold vacuum press". sounds revolutionary! I wonder why more don't use it. Can only imagine a "vacuum press" is quite expensive.

    @Charlie might be able to shed more light on this.

    My approach since i'm early in my development, keep it simple.... and master the basics....

  • bewdynewkbewdynewk Member Posts: 11 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    edited January 7
    Thanks Mark.

    Yes, I think Dan Strebin was/is a big collector but he did do backing at least in the early '90's and his method was to pre-shrink canvas and then mount using a vacuum press/frame/table - picture framers use them for mounting and there are cold and heated varieties.

    I may have been misleading with use of the word "washing". I was merely conjecturing how to pre-shrink canvas (I think I have seen pre-shrunk canvas offered by art suppliers too). I was guessing that the (unprimed) cotton canvas duck would probably need to be soaked and then dried under heat in order to shrink it. Anyone know about this?

    I'm surprised nobody seems to have heard of Dan's method which was the subject of an article in the early 1990's in one of the collector publications at the time. He said pre-shrinking gave the same result as stretching and the vacuum press simply speeded up the process. Also, the bed of the press provides the solid surface for mounting. Admittedly, Dan claimed to be the only one using this method.

    Yes - vacuum frames aren't cheap and at the usual 40x60in size, up to a one-sheet size is handled easily. However, for larger sizes, or any size for that matter, it is possible to make your own vacuum bag using a sealable vinyl or polyurethane bag with a vacuum pump attached, on a hard, smooth surface. Boat builders use them in a wide range of sizes for both flat and 3-D objects for glueing and veneering

    I haven't tried it yet but it does sound intriguing. I was hoping some of you at the coal face would know of the method and its problems, if any.

  • CharlieCharlie Member, Administrator, Moderator, Game Master Posts: 6,516 admin
    I’ve read/watched almost everything available on conservation while learning what to do and the name itself draws a blank. 

    But it there was a guy that washed canvas with amonia or something and then pasted it to a table.  The reality is you don’t need a cold vacuum press for linenbacking - it’s really overkill.

    I understand the curiosity in the method, but to be frank, only one guy does it this way; why would it make sense to deviate from known conservative methods?
    That second mouse in the bowl of cream we call life...
  • EisenhowerEisenhower Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 4,316 admin
    Agreed Charlie. 

    @bewdynewk are you linenbacking posters? If so, it'd be great to see some examples. Those who post are few and far between so it's always fun to see other's work. 
  • bewdynewkbewdynewk Member Posts: 11 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    edited January 8
    Thanks Charlie, thanks Mark,

    I understand your doubts and reserve on the matter as it seems a bit out of left field - and I certainly defer to your knowledge and expertise. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything and as noted earlier, I am not yet linenbacking. I'm still trying to gain knowledge and sort the wheat from the chaff.

    The only reason to deviate from the tried and true is if a considerable saving of time and effort produces the same result - and I'm not sure yet if Dan Strebin's method does, or does not. But I am sure that you won't convince me that I'm getting younger or that at my age saving time is not a top priority! So I think the debate is still in mid-air until we know more. .. you gentlemen have certainly shown that you don't need  a vacuum press to linenback and maybe it is overkill - but if it works and saves a lot of time and effort, I'm listening!

    I have found out a little more about Dan and have dug up the article to which I referred (didn't think I'd throw it out). It was indeed 1994, in the Spring issue of "Collecting Hollywood". There are two articles/interviews by John Johnson re Dan. The first is on his views, interests and experiences in collecting which also mentions his L.A. restoration studio in partnership with Roger Fenton who uses the same method and who has done a lot of work for  Camden House.

    The other article is five pages of questions on his approach and practice in poster restoration where he notes his method in some detail. He studied conservation in college and then developed, experimented and learned his craft over the next six years. Self-taught, but the article tells me that he knows his stuff.

    I get the feeling that after a while he left the studio in Roger's hands and pursued his major interest - expertise in appraising and advising on all manner of movie memorabilia, posters in particular. Mr Google tells me that among others over the last 41 years, he has been the evaluator with Profiles in History for the last 9 years - including recently for the Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds Estate.

    I also stumbled across a mention of him as "expert" in this forum! Check out Bruce's post of May 2017 under - I'm a Poster Watcher-The End is Near-I Went to Cinevent... 

    In part it says    "...But the best single time I had was sitting with Dan (the Posterman) Strebin, Walter Reuben and Matthew McCarthy, and talking about rare posters. I felt like I was taking a "Master Class" on the subject, and I should have been getting charged a hefty fee!..."

    So, far from being some mad aberration, I get the feeling that this man is a professional in all pursuits and the article of 1994 gives that impression.

    Perhaps Bruce knows more.

    Anyhow, maybe it's all a bit academic... having re-read Charlie's work on paperbacking, I think I'm coming around to the view that linenbacking has not really been proven over time and is mostly done so you can "roll it up and send it across the world" - perhaps we've been a little brainwashed by the auction houses in that respect? And perhaps for most purposes, paperbacking is the way to go.

    Oh! Lord - enough from me already!

  • DarioDario Member, Restoration Yoda Posts: 137 ✭✭ One-Sheeter

    I was offered the/a suction table back in 2000/2001. I was contacted by a movie poster dealer. He was selling it for a friend.

    Could have been Dan's table?? I don't know?? They take up a lot of space. Wasn't for me.


    Back to Methyl cellulose. I make a batch, kept in a small plastic jar. It will last for months with no mold issues.
    So something is not done right when you prep it.


    Linen backing has been around for at least a century. So yes, its been proven and handled test of time pretty well.

    Although back in the early days maps and other important prints was backed straight to medical gauze or similar linen cloth.

    Also, the idea that it is mostly done for shipping purposes is not correct.

    Personally, I prefer Linen Backing over Paper backing.

    Happy New Year,
  • EisenhowerEisenhower Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 4,316 admin
  • bewdynewkbewdynewk Member Posts: 11 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    edited January 9
    Thanks Dario,

    Good to hear the point of view from the experience of an expert.

    I understand the time-honoured practice of the French, etc in using actual linen gauze for backing, but have seen many doubts expressed by several leading lights in the collecting field re performance of the thicker cotton duck over time - not to mention conservators who really don't seem to like it.

    Maybe the jury is still out on this... am I correct in saying that use of cotton duck backing has been around no more than 30-40 years?

    Post edited by bewdynewk on
  • DarioDario Member, Restoration Yoda Posts: 137 ✭✭ One-Sheeter
    Paper or Linen is a personal choice.

    As long as both backing methods uses archival material. They are both acceptable in the world of collecting, selling and museum display.

    I can tell you that I see very few linen backed posters coming in that needs to be re done.

    When they do, it is usually a human error or water.

    Paper backed items for the last 20 years, plenty! 

    Way fragile.

    Most due to over handling ( and it doesn't take much ). Which creates creases, wobbly, tears and so on.


    of course, I am aske to take the paper off and put them back on linen.

    >>> several leading lights <<<

    Please point me the way to the Illuminati's I'd like to see what they have to say.


  • bewdynewkbewdynewk Member Posts: 11 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    edited January 10
    Hi Dario,

    Your experience with paper v linen over the years is most edifying and instructive and again, I defer to that.

    I'm not trying to prove anything or buy an argument - life's too short (and I do know about that!) so when I talk about "leading lights" I don't make it up. I also don't keep a reference to every comment or article, so I may not be convincing on this - and to me a "leading light" is someone who publishes their thoughts, knows more than I do and is respected in the field. That means a lot of the forum members including you, amongst many others over the years. As to who is an expert or respected -  I guess that's subjective.

    But I can cite -
    - Ed and Susan Poole in their book. Admittedly a warning re mounting direct to canvas only.

    - Two trained conservators from the Australian body - can't remember the title - one from the Brisbane Art gallery Conservation Centre. Both warn of the paper-canvas movement over time. I spoke personally with them at seminars in the last two years.

    - John Green of Movie Poster Page - I have a printout from 1997 but can't remember where from... possibly online. Don't know his credentials but he talks with some authority on the dangers of drymounting, lamination, etc, plus the safety of encapsulation. Also notes the possible problems over time of the environmental effects on the paper/canvas combination. He also notes that this is the view of conservators and further adds that reversibility over 100-200 years remains unproven.

    - Bruce Hershenson in one of his Poster Central articles in Movie Collector's World (I don't have the issue or date) writes...
       "The advantage of linen is that it is much more durable than paperbacking and... can be handled quite easily. The main drawback of linen (especially without rice paper or if poorly done) is that it may not stand the test of time nearly as well as paperbacking. The linen appears to slowly contract over many years and cause the paper to buckle. Of course the poster can then be relinen backed (but at a considerable expense)".

    All I'm saying is that I've read of doubts over the years which don't make it right or wrong. But with every input, I learn more - and I've learned as much from your post above as I have from any of them.


  • DarioDario Member, Restoration Yoda Posts: 137 ✭✭ One-Sheeter
    Hi Rod,

    This is definitely a friendly conversation.

    I agree with Ed, John and Bruce.

    A poster should never be backed straight to linen ( no paper barrier )

    And poster should not be dry mounted or laminated as well.

    Poster can be removed from  paper backing and linen backing pending archival reversible glue was used.

    Everything contract and expand around us. Take a blow torch to any solids ( harden steel )and it will expand.

    Your poster in the frame will expand and contract pending season/humidity.

    When you stretch your canvas on to the frame. It is impossible to replicate exact tension on all 4 sides.

    That's why we spray water on the canvas after its been stretched, so it can contract and expand. ( Leave even tension )

    Also, never over stretch as it will pull the canvas to much and pop back when cutting out.

    By using these two methods, things don't move at all or very little over the years?

    Funny, I have my first linen backing somewhere. I should dig it ups and show it when I have time.


  • EisenhowerEisenhower Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 4,316 admin
    All sound practices from all I’ve read, including the AIC papers. Would love to see your first backing.

    I’ve got my 1/2 sheet on linen framed-three years later-not a long time I know-it still doing well. In 20, we’ll see. 

    What I’d like to see from Bruce or other dealers is linenbacked posters that have “gone south”. But would wea know what the real culprit is if there’s no documentation who backed it, to analyze methods/procedures?....

    Client testimonials of those who’ve had posters backed by known restoration pros can tell who and vouch for longevity. 
  • bewdynewkbewdynewk Member Posts: 11 ✭ Mexican Lobby Carder
    Thanks guys,
    That all sounds very reasonable. The fragility of paperbacking when overhandled certainly seems to suggest linen is the way to go where protection is important.

    And yes - it would be great to see early linenbacking examples that have failed - especially if the "why" can be determined.

    Equally great would be early known examples that have survived in near-original condition.

Sign In or Register to comment.