July 12, 2019 People in Preservation: Daedalus Art Inc’s Josh Craine
With each project that HBI begins, it is only a matter of time before we discover treasures inside and outside the building: papers, architectural details, seemingly mundane objects like glass bottles, or items as shocking as reels of 1970s pornography. During our restoration of the Alvah Kittredge House, we salvaged two large formerly- gilded, plaster florets that once decorated the exterior of the building. Once gleaming with gold leaf, the pieces were covered in dust and plaster. To restore them to their former glory, HBI called upon Josh Craine at Daedalus Inc. Daedalus is an art conservation company with extensive experience working on a wide range of historic materials. From small object conservation to monumental projects, their treatments protect and preserve original materials to respect the intentions of the artists and craftspeople who created them. This article is the third part of our “People in Preservation” series that profiles the people that live in or work on HBI historic preservation projects.
Joshua Craine is the Principal and Head of Conservation of Daedalus Art Company, a Watertown conservation firm that conserves historic items spanning from “art, architecture and everything in between”. What started as conservation of exclusively fine artwork, the Daedalus team now tackles historic projects large, and often complex, work on outdoor monuments, historic building elements and markers, mosaics and architectural details.
Josh has completed projects all around the city from the Tennessee Marble and Bronze Channing Memorial in The Boston Public Garden to the many slate, sandstone, and marble grave markers at the Eliot Burying Ground in Roxbury, where he had a front row seat to the preservation of the Eustis Street Firehouse.
Daedalus was also part of the conservation efforts of the Brewer fountain in the Boston Common, which they treated about a decade ago with a local construction company and the Boston Parks Department. At the time of the conservation, the area was in need of a revival and the fountain had seen better days. Josh saw the project as “A big first step in revitalization of the area” and reflects fondly on the partnership, “everyone did a nice job on the fountain and over time the surrounding area, I am very happy that we were part of that project. Every time I am over at the Park Street Corner I see what a huge difference the project made.”
Recently, HBI called upon Daedalus to restore a bronze plaque dedicated to Anne Hutchinson that once hung outside at the Old Corner Bookstore. Their attention to detail made it easy to ring him again when we needed to spruce up the Alvah Kittredge florets. We asked Josh to give us some insight as to what goes into conserving an object like the plaster florets. Here’s what he told us:
“To start, we needed to get down to the surface. Using small chisels and files as needed, we removed the over filled plaster (originally from the ceiling) to isolate the floret. We cleaned the surface of flaking paint, and particulates using a brush & HEPA vac. Then we cleaned the surface of accretions with detergent and water on cotton swabs and pads. Next we refilled any surface losses, nicks and cracks with plaster and sanded to match the adjacent surfaces. To paint the surface, we used Flashe Paint, applied using an air brush. The painted had to match the original color, so we found the right color based on an existing layer. To recreate the gilded edges of the flower petals, we treated the edge details with 23.75 k gold leaf. To finish, we mounted the wooden frame using stainless steel hardware.”
The proof of a job well done is clear in the before and after photos!