Restoration of the Drawing
Letters between Western and Mastic Long Island would seem to
suggest that this room was used as the General’s bedchamber
and that Johanna, his wife, occupied the room across the hall.
There are architectural similarities between the Mastic house
and the Western house, most notably a double door hinged in
the middle to both open as a single door or a double door folding
back against itself. The doors at the Mastic house did not survive.
After taking measurements and photos of the room, paint samples
were harvested from various strategic locations. The samples
were sent to Matt Mosca for analysis. The original color combination
was white plaster with white trim. Not particularly exciting,
but then the General was a conservative fellow.
Loose areas of plaster were secured using plaster buttons. Where
plaster was not salvageable, the plaster was removed. Wire mesh
was screwed into the wooden lath to give the new plaster more
retention. Sometimes the ends of the wooden lath were butted
along a straight line making the original vulnerable to a stress
fracture. Applying the mesh over the butted ends helps prevent
future fracture. Two coats of Structo-lite plaster was applied
to the repaired areas and they were feathered into the original
The ceiling had a skim coat of more modern plaster to give the
ceiling texture and, no doubt, to cover fracture lines. The
skim coat was removed by a single sided razor blade. Very time
consuming and labor intensive, but a necessary step to get down
to the original plaster without damaging it.
After documenting the original colors, we took the liberty to
use a different historic color – Spanish Brown. The room
had had a darker red wallpaper on the walls for the last forty
years. The look was very cozy, so we attempted to use a darker
trim color to maintain that coziness. Personally, I don’t
think we succeeded and we are presenting waiting for Adelphi
paper makers to discover a suitable paper. The paint was made
from scratch using linseed oil, chalk, turpentine, driers and
pigments. The combination provides a wonderfully user friendly
paint, as far as application is concerned. The final product
does not level and brush strokes are visible, as they were in
older formulas of paint. The reflection of candlelight off these
painted surfaces is beautiful. We did encounter the common occurrence
of uneven drying, giving the surface different reflective capabilities.
This is corrected by applying a coat or two of varnish, but
only after the paint has thoroughly cured. We waited about six
weeks before applying the varnish.
The floor was lightly sanded and cleaned. We wiped the surface
with a stain to color the damaged pits and dings. We tried a
low luster Gym Seal product on this room. Other than a very
uneven drying effect on the first coat ( I think the product
might have frozen before we purchased it ), the final coats
look quite nice and offer some protection in a room that is
used extensively in the winter months.