Update: Restoration In Progress– “Great Big White Birds”

Sometimes when I’m doing these things, I have to psych myself up a lot in order to talk about it, because I’m always defending myself to an imaginary person who thinks everything I do is partially insane. The problem is the imaginary person is not wrong. My famous last words will most certainly be: STAND BACK, I GOT THIS.

That said, if I actually die while I’m doing kimono restoration work, it’ll be because I legitimately decided to eat one, and I choked on it. Om nom nom, I guess.

Now that I’ve spewed that insanity, welcome back. I’ve taken a break from blogging about the shit I do to just do a lot of shit. Here’s one! I made a decision when it comes to handling the replacement of the kinsai (gold leaf paint) on this piece that technically falls out of the category of a period correct and faithful restoration. Most of what I do, even if I end up using a different method than the original artist if I’m doing actual artwork repair on kimono, is stuff that could have been done or is actually done by restoration artists in Japan. And then some of it, legit, is just me being an absolute psychopath and doing whatever because sometimes a piece is just REKT when it gets to me anyway, and fuck the police.

For the sake of refreshing memories, I’m working on this majestic beast. And I’ve also posted one other update before showcasing my pigment replacement skills. Now I’ve moved on to the gold, because as a further refresher, the gold was REKT. Behold:

Is it just me, or does that dove look like he has seen some shit?


Anyway, as you can see from these photos, the gold is not shimmering, it is not intact, and is just in general not in good shape. I got a crap load of metal leaf–gold and silver–for my birthday (THANKS MOM), and my original intention was to simply redo it.

But as I was three fucking inches away from the surface as I was matching colors, cursing at it, and just generally being a creep, I realized that I could make out each individual brush stroke and intended line of those majestic goddamn gold and silver pine branches. That’s one of my really weird talents that never seems to help me in any practical application. I can untie any knot, and I can spot the weirdest details and then follow them. Fucking eagle eye over here.

…dove eye…?

When I can immediately identify tiny lines and what direction they go in, even when it’s chaos, my brain weasel, who doubles as my conscience–and he sucks at it because he always wants to grab shit, play with trash, and he has no concern for my personal safety–said “just follow those lines.” And then I put it up and agonized over it for a bit.

Then I made the decision to grind my gold leaf into dust and then mix it with a very specific pigment powder, and a binder, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. Forgive me, just this once, for not being transparent about what precise measurements of what that I used, because this is a custom, personal mixture, and I do use it for applications outside of kimono restoration. I’m bizarrely protective of my personal recipes for such things. It’s mostly actually gold.

And so I brought out my Silver Silk 88 Ultra Round brush, mixed small batches of my gold slurry, and I got to work tracing over those pine needles, no matter how chaotic they are.

The reason I decided to do this is because I made the decision that I valued the original artist’s intended brush strokes over the exact materials. I made the decision to preserve the artwork as it was made. I made the decision to bring it back to what it would have looked like the very first time Great Grandma Akiye set eyes on it. I want to get it as close to what she would have known brand new as I can, and as it turns out? I can get it really fucking close. It’s just going to take forever and a lot of external screaming. Anyway, here’s my work so far.

And lastly, for your viewing pleasure, I actually thought to take a video of painting on some of my gold. I’ve been asked a lot if I do videos, and I really don’t. Also, sorry that it bounces around a bit, I kept whacking the camera mount because I’m just really not used to it being there. Also it’s sped up quite a bit. Mute if you want, or enjoy the music. You’re listening to one of the things I was listening to (Gunship — Fly For Your Life).

-Plane noises-

I now have a metric fuck ton of photos to sort through because I’ve been a good little beaver (what?) and I’ve been taking pictures of damage before fixing it. Also I’m carving my own kaiken, and that’s going to see its own entry soon.

I need a nap.


7 thoughts on “Update: Restoration In Progress– “Great Big White Birds”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s