William Metcalfe, 2/26/2018
Current Occupation: Having retired from profitable work, I am playing about with either writing or photography.
Former Occupation: There were 40 years of picture framing. My company was one of the first in Washington, DC, to push for preservation as a very important aspect of a framing job.
Contact Information: After 30 years of aimless travel, I settled down in Washington, DC. after I found I enjoyed working as a picture framer. In the years of travel and of working with customers, I have accumulated a large collection of stories, which exist as short notes. For a period, I was also, by acclamation, a interesting photographer, but a move to a near suburb, a wonderful wife and our 3 children took more and more time. I had to curtail my pursuits. Now that I am retired and my children are adults, I have returned to earlier interests. The iMac which sits on my desk offers itself as a means of rendering a legible copy of a story from the dusty corridors of my mind. It also offers itself as a instructor in converting digital snapshots into something much more meaningful, might I say art. One can only hope
BLOOD ON THE DALI
24 years ago, a small cut on my nose cost me over $400. I was workikng as a picture framer working for a customer on some large Salvador Dali prints. It was a set of 4 separate images. Each was Dali's idea of the most telling aspect of a great America city. Their owner had been screwed on them. In spite of serious visual damage, they had been falsely sold as investment art.
I began by working on San Francisco. Dali had picked the Chinese New Year as their important event. The prints were black and white with splotches of a faded red. This is why the prints were crap. They were cheaply framed, which had caused some problems. The once white paper that the art was printed on was now more beige than white. A more serious fault was that the red ink had almost faded into oblivion.
These prints were in my shop when I still had hair. I used to visit a barber every season, although I might skip winter. My hair was long and it hung in front of my eyes. Now, I tie back what is left. Eventually, I will be able to leave it behind in the house when I go to work. Back then, when working, I would just brush it aside with my hand.
Here I should admit that I let my fingernails grow longer than most people. I regard them as tools. I find it easier to handle pieces of delicate paper with my fingernails. When the nail of a thumb breaks off, I suffer as though I have a lost an irreplaceable tool.
This disaster was caused when I leaned over to examine the print. To clear my vision, I brushed the hair from my face. When my fingernail cut the flesh of my nose, I didn't realize that I was bleeding. After I straightened up, I saw that these new reds in the Dali were vibrant and fully colored. When my heart began beating again, I dabbed at the spots of blood with a paper towel.
I carried insurance for damage to art entrusted to me. So, I put the Dali aside until the following day when I called a paper conservator that lived near me. I had called the customer earlier and gave her the choice of letting my person work on the print or of her finding another qualified person. Since there were three other prints, I hoped that a conservator could maintain their matching appearance. It would have been difficult to replace the print and judging from the condition of this one, another probably wouldn’t match either.
I carried the piece to the paper conservator and we talked about solutions for rectifying the damage. The print actually looked better with my blood, but that was not an option. The print included images of fireworks exploding in the sky. Then the conservator dropped a bombshell. She would remove my blood but then she would have to wash the entire print. When the blood was removed, the bright red spot would be replaced with a bright white one unless the print was totally washed. I saw immediately that I might have to have all 4 prints treated because washing would remove the discoloration from the paper and these prints should all match. With one washing, the customer would have 1 print on paper that looked fresh and new while the 3 others would look like badly handled antiques. Fortunately, the customer was satisfied with having the one print cleaned. I paid for the work rather than contacting the insurance company because I wanted to keep my rates low.
When the cleaning was finished, I also learned, from the customer, that the value of her prints was quite low, much lower than she paid, because of their poor condition. The customer just added my accident to the summation of her screwing.