Interesting find while remodeling! Help me preserve it!

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Hello,
This is my first post here, but I have been reading this group for a while. I must preface this cry for help with some background info. I live in an old house, and I have been doing some research on its past. I wanted to find out the original builder, date it was built, original owner and house number (the number has changed) I have been having a tough time finding information, but I narrowed it down to one owner (H. Simpson) and one date (1916). The other day, I was scraping wallpaper off of the ceiling (yes ceiling) and I about fell off the ladder when I saw some writing on the plaster under the wallpaper "Curt Zellner Papering 1916- H. Simpson's House". Wow! I was right, the date and the person! And there on the ceiling, in pencil, is proof (I was also shocked that this ugly paper had been up for 88 years, hehe). Now, what I want to do, is preserve this writing. What I thought of doing is masking a rectangle around the writing and spraying clearcoat on it. Then I would mask over it and paint the plaster ceiling how I had originally planned. Essentially, this would leave a painted ceiling and a small rectangle-clearcoated spot where the writing would be visible. My question is; is this the best way to "lock in" that writing? Again, it's pencil, so I have to be careful. I don't want to lose it. What do you folks think? Sorry for the long story, but it is exciting for me :)
PS- Anybody know a good place to find old door hinges on the 'net?
CoogarXR
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On 03 May 2004 16:59:24 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (CoogarXR) scribbled this interesting note:

Why not remove that section of the ceiling entirely and have it framed and hang it on the wall? This way it can be properly conserved and protected and can stay either with the house or with you if you ever move.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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I also like the idea of cutting out the section and framing it.
But either way, if you want to preserve the writing, go to an art supply store and ask for spray fixative. It's what artists spray on charcoal and pencil drawing to prevent them from being smudged or smeared.
(CoogarXR) scribbled

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"I was also shocked that this ugly paper had been up for 88 years" What would you expect in Homer Simpson's house???
I agree. Cut it out and frame it. It would be cool!
John Willis wrote:

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On 03 May 2004 16:59:24 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (CoogarXR) wrote:

way to go. If you are serious in saving it then you don't want to spray anything on it that will cause the surface to peel off. Sounds to me that could happen. Best would be to remove the paper piece with carefully controlled steam and have a paper conservator take care of it for you. joevan
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"Best would be to remove the paper piece with carefully controlled steam and have a paper conservator take care of it for you." The writing is on the plaster, not the paper "I saw some writing on the plaster under the wallpaper"
Joevan wrote:

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(CoogarXR) wrote:

YAH............... STEAM WONT HURT THAT "PENCIL"???????? GET LOST IDIOT
TO THE OP cut out the paper with the pencil sig. and place it into an air tight vacuum sealed plastic case.
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Before you do anything, take some good pictures of it. I like your idea of clear coat over it, but my experience is nil on doing such! Hopefully someone will give you some good advice -- other than telling you to remove the paper (since you clearly told us it was written on the plaster!!). And forget about removing a section of the ceiling with the writing, since the plaster would undoubtedly disintegrate. --Phil
CoogarXR wrote:

--
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@cc.ysu.edu Youngstown State University
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"the plaster would undoubtedly disintegrate" Good point... call an "expert" on this one. There has got to be a way to stabilize the plaster first.
Phil Munro wrote:

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When my dad built his house in '72, the builder and his crew signed the wall at the head of the basement stairs, we clearcoated over that, and it's held up fine since then.. But that was sheetrock, not ceiling plaster. Still, people PAINT plaster all the time, and it doesn't hurt it any, so I can't see why clearcoat should be any different.
--Goedjn.
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scribbled this interesting note:

Not necessarily. Ever see how they remove very delicate mosaics without having even one tile fall out? Seems to me this would be far easier to stabilize and remove without causing the plaster to fall apart. The trick is to consult with someone with far more experience with these kinds of issues than anyone in this group is likely to have!:~)
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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What a fantastic find! So far I've only seen a few names written on attic beams, which an architect told me were probably names of the men who were working on the house, and a beautiful screw-apart cane with a brass knob and hollow compartment for liquor or a cigar in a distant corner of the attic. zemedelec
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CoogarXR wrote:

Go to your local art museum. Ask for the local conservator or restoration expert. Ask them.
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Go to the hardware section of http://www.rensup.com / A reasonable starting spot.

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CoogarXR wrote:

There are spray fixatives at art stores for using mainly over chalk. I do mostly oil painting, so the particulars about pencil work are not my field of interest. A fixative, if label says ok for pencil, with a matte spray acrylic varnish should keep it pretty well.
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If it was my project, I make or buy an appropriate sized thin picture frame with glass in it and mount it to the ceiling over that writing. You could always paint the frame with the ceiling paint you'll be using so that it won't jump out at you.
Just my .02,
Jeff
CoogarXR wrote:

--

Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone
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Hello,
Thank you all for the wonderful ideas. I am going to check into the spray fixatives mentioned. I would rather not try to cut it out, IMO thats too risky. Plus, the ceiling is in very good shape with only a few cracks and I would like to maintain it's integrity. It's a neat idea, I am just not up to anything that drastic (plus, a hunk of plaster and lath framed would be pretty thick, and one of my animals would find a way to knock it down and break it). But I did take pictures immediately. Thank you all again!
CoogarXR
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Before you do anything with it, why don't you ask the folks at the www.oldhousejournal.com forums. I believe one of them recently dealt with this issue in their own home. They're quite a knowledgeable and friendly bunch.
Jim
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (CoogarXR) wrote in message

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I wonder, how many of you _leave_ notes when working on your house?! Me and the wife do. Our house is late 1800's. I think the last note we left was on the inside of some facia/eve boards we replaced. Something like "Michael and Faith were here 2004, please take care of our house". <grin>
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On Tue, 04 May 2004 10:31:09 -0400, Michael Nickolas

There is a note inside the last house we built. This was in 1990. It is on the back side of one of the pieces of plywood sheathing use on the exterior walls. Whoever eventually finds it will have to be digging pretty far into the house in order to find it!
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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