In 2016 Orbis commenced work on the historic interior of a Grade II listed building in Grosvenor Crescent near Hyde Park Corner. Our first project was the conservation of two large Adams style Victorian classical revival over mantles.
The over mantles had been re-painted numerous times resulting in a disfigured surface that masked the fine detail of the composition ornament beneath.
Before starting treatment we took and analysed paint samples throughout the mantles in order to ascertain the layer structure and binding media present. The results were fascinating, disclosing up to 20 layers of modern and historic paint and revealing the presence of an original gilded scheme.
Due to the materials used in the manufacture of composition ornament (chalk, animal glue, linseed oil and resin), the removal of paint can prove very problematic. Heat will melt the composition and many commercial paint removers will swell and soften the ornament.
The only safe way to remove the paint was deemed to be the careful application of solvent gels and many hours of painstaking work with dental tools!
The results were well worth the effort as we revealed a very high quality of ornament and detail which had been obscured for generations.