Techniques > Systems
> Finishes > Media
Calsomine — Case Study
Ballroom, 1812 Tavern, Charlotte, Vermont.
conditions of the ballroom before preservation. Plaster
required minimal patching along ceiling and portions of
the wall. Wall surfaces had been painted only three or four
times. Ballroom was to be restored for community use —
in keeping with its tradition as a tavern ballroom.
specifications called for coating plaster with an alkyd
(oil) paint. However, in the process of preparing the surfaces
for painting, project craftspeople removed water-soluble
paint to discover historic "graffiti": calculations,
drawings, and signatures of late-19th-century occupants,
who had been identified during historical research. All
pencilwork was documented in writing and with photographs.
oil-paint would be an irreversible treatment, forever covering
these historic records, and as oil-paint would likely fail
unless all surfaces were thoroughly cleaned — destroying
this work in the process, other options were pursued. Given
the opportunity, it was decided to match the historic finish
in kind, using water-soluble (hence: reversible) calsomine
tinted with earth pigment to match the historic appearance.
"Dutch Kalsomine" (calcomine), manufactured by
the Muralo Company, Inc. in Bayonne, NJ, was obtained from
Johnson Paint in Boston. Johnson Paint had acquired a large
volume of the paint before Muralo closed.
pigments were considered for tinting: (1) natural yellow
ochre dug up from a historic paint works near Brandon, Vermont
[on right, in jar] and (2) manufactured yellow ochre supplied
by Johnson Paint. While there were differences, it was decided
to employ the modern Johnson pigment as sitable quanties
could be obtained and as the tinted calcimine matched the
historic color on the walls.
much testing, the final color was selected, a large batch
of calsomine, water and pigment (premixed) were formulated,
poured through a stocking to remove lumps, and painted on
the walls with a wide natural-bristle brush,using cross-stroke
brushwork, to produce the typical soft, lightly textured,
flat effect achieved by this paint.