The Deceptive Cotton Ball

THE DECEPTIVE COTTON BALL

How many times have you heard this advice when wondering how to clean your cel: “Just wipe it with a little alcohol on a cotton ball”? Sounds okay, right? After all, what harm can a simple cotton ball and a few drops of alcohol do?

MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS

The first thing you need to know is “cotton” balls aren’t always made from cotton. They are often created using rayon, nylon or a combination of synthetic or cotton-like fibers. Synthetic fibers act as tiny little sandpaper grains or razors on a delicate cel and can actually cut tiny grooves into the surface, thus scoring it. If you aren’t lookimg for them, you might not even see the scratches, but they are there. Even real cotton, used in the wrong way, can do the same thing or worse. After a little shrinkage over time the damaged cel weakens dramatically and usually splits along one of the many “scratch” or fissure lines made by the “cotton” ball.

I ONLY USED A LITTLE ALCOHOL

Now, let’s consider the “alcohol”. Most alcohol found in the home is labeled Rubbing Alcohol and is intended to be used on skin. Most often it is comprised of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water. Sometimes ethanol is added as well.

Both isopropyl alcohol and ethanol leave a residue on the cel surface. That’s not good, but it gets worse. Alcohols are natural water absorbers and natural wetting solutions. So, while the alcohol will wet the cel, dissolving solvent-soluble inks or paints, the water will dissolve water-soluble inks or paints, and the ethanol, if present, can attack the cel itself. Additionally, natural emollients on or in the cel are removed in the process, leaving the cel vulnerable to oxidation and airborne acids. In short, the present and future value of the artwork can be irreparably compromised.

TREATING WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

The only issue being addressed above is “alcohol on a cotton ball.” Cels differ markedly throughout animaton history, depending on their manufactuer, age, treatment over time, and many other factors. The composition of a given cel has not even been taken into consideration in the above discussion; it can’t be without examination. Without knowing what you are treating, the potential to do more harm than good is high.

WE REALLY ARE HERE TO HELP

We get calls regularly asking for our recommendations on how best to manage a specific aspect of cel cleaning. The variables are many and each conditional issue affects the next. After well over 30 years we have come to the conclusion that there is only so much we can do over the phone. Not only are we working blind, unable to see the cel, but we have no control over how our advice might be applied—or misapplied. Our best recommendation is to let us see and evaluate the artwork and care for it professionally in the lab, if need be. It makes sense, and it’s the safest and most responsible way to treat your artwork.

Having said this, there are some important things you can do on your own. They may not sound like much, but they can make all the difference in the health and longevitiy of your art:

• Handle cels or paper art as little as possible and only by the edges with clean and dry hands.

• Keep all art lying flat until framed properly.

• You may use a soft, dry cotton cloth, like an old T-shirt, to gently wipe away finger smudges. Wrap the cloth around around your index finger and wipe in a gentle circular motion and not ever over the inking or line work.

• No canned air . . . EVER . . . no matter what you think.

• Don’t wait till you get to the OMG moment. If you see something unusual or that doesn’t look right on your artwork, call as soon as possible. We will do our best to help you and your artwork, but if you wait the problem won’t heal. And, if you wait too long even we can’t fix it.

© 2015 S/R LABS – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Aqua-Fix Story

In Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s monumental Book, Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, the two legendary animators and members of Walt’s Nine Old Men tried to cover nearly every important aspect of how Disney created animated cartoons and feature films in order to leave a written account of the creativity, inventiveness, and sheer love and dedication so many men and women put forth in order to bring Walt’s visions to the screen.

I knew seven of those nine men, as well as Wilfred “Jax” Jackson, who timed “Steamboat Willie” on his harmonica in Roy O. Disney’s living room. I was there when Frank and Ollie worked on The Illusion of Life. It’s a long story but I knew their editor Walton Rawls at Abrams Books as well.

This was all happening as The Search and Rescue Team project (where our S/R comes from) of the Animation Society was just getting started. As VP of the Society I knew them all. They knew me.

I asked Ollie, “Why now? Why write such a demanding book?” He said, “Ron, if we don’t do it now we will never do it.” They had just retired. It seemed they hardly had a chance to enjoy time off, but they saw the book as their mission. “Look,” Frank told me, “if we don’t do it now things will get lost, people will change, and the links to the past will disappear. Its now or never.”

That was in the 80’s. Now, more than 30 years later, I more than understand what they meant.

Interestingly, Frank and Ollie had more than three times the amount of material selected for their book than they finally used. What was ultimately covered were the basics and a little extra. One of the interesting items their book revealed was strictly a Disney invention: Aqua-Fix.

It was developed by Emilio Bianchi, head chemist at the Disney Studio and his friend, fellow chemist Fred Wallach. Emilio and I would became close friends and remained so until his death on January 26, 1984. He was a great loss to me. I still miss him.

Quick side note here: The Disney Studio, while small, was like most Hollywood studios, in that it had “everything.” Nurse, machinist shop, paint lab and chemist, print shop, frame shop, prop shop, wood shop, barber and hair dresser, chefs and commissary, costume shop, model shop, auto mechanics, car wash, furniture makers, and craftsmen of many different kinds were right on the lot. Rarely did anyone at Disney go “off property” for anything much. Production issues were solved right on the lot.

One such issue was Walt’s idea, once the idea of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs took on reality, that he wanted it to be a “moving illustration,” resembling the beautiful work in European storybooks he had known as a child. This was new. As with the rest of the innovative film, nothing so demanding had ever been attempted in animation.

Disney artists knew how to create animation backgrounds in a watercolor style, but the kind of work Walt envisioned was different than what they were accustomed to and extremely time-consuming and costly.

THE WATER COLOR TECHNIQUE

Watercolor is one of the most difficult painting styles to control. You see, watercolor paints are bright whole pigments ground or milled in a small amount of binder. They are transparent because they are used as thin watery washes applied to specially prepared watercolor paper that is bound on all four sides so that it will not buckle when exposed to the large amount of water in the colored washes when applied. Too, there is no such thing as white watercolor paint. Because of the nature of the medium and its style, the white areas in a watercolor painting are the paper itself.

Colors are applied and washed back to reveal the white of the paper. When applied the colors “bleed,” creating new colors and color combinations. Because of the solubility and transparency of the colors, all it takes is one drop of water to ruin a watercolor painting. And, once the artist commits to a color there is no turning back. Unless washed back right away, the color is there and remains there. The process is a slow and careful one. You should be getting the idea watercolor technique is not so easily applied to the animation process. This was the problem that Emilio tried to remedy with his friend, chemist Fred Wallach. Their answer was Aqua-Fix.

But what was Aqua-Fix and what did it do? Why was it so important, and what happened to it?

WHAT WAS AQUA-FIX?

As the name implies, the product was a fixative. Fixatives are used in fine art to coat watercolor, pastel, and other types of works of art on paper to make them impervious to change or damage. In earlier days most were light varnishes; these days they are usually acrylic in nature.

But Aqua-Fix was something enormously different. It was created to make possible the production of watercolor paintings in a fraction of the time traditional water colorists required to do the same job, thus responding to the needs of a production schedule.

All of this and more I learned in my attempt to find out what Aqua-fix is or was, what it was used for, and how it was made.

My search began on February 28, 1984—a month almost to the day from Emilio’s death— when Peter Daniels, of H. G. Daniels called me. The Daniels company was the West Coast’s largest art materials dealer, the place for anything in art materials, and Disney was their long-time customer. Peter said someone at Disney had contacted him asking to purchase Aqua-Fix. Peter had no idea what it was and called me.

I had lots of questions. Peter directed me to the person making the request, Disney background artist Jim Coleman. Jim was delighted to hear from me. He was almost out of Aqua-Fix. He said when Don Bluth left Disney in 1979 to start his own studio he took the last two gallons of Aqua-Fix with him. I met with Jim and he gave me a small amount of the product, about three milliliters, and hoped I could make more. That small sample and his brief description of how Aqua-Fix was used led me on a four year journey.

Here’s how Jim described using Aqua-Fix:

“I spray my background art board with Aqua-fix. Let it dry. That’s it! I’m done. When I paint on the board my water colors flow as usual. As long as they are wet I can wash them back as any good watercolorist would. But when they dry they are set. Now I can lay down a color or colors over them. But again, whatever dries is set. I can do the next layer and the next, each one setting as the first. I can create a layered water color painting in a fraction of the time it would take to do with traditional technique, even though the basic technique I use is quite traditional.”

It sounds simple but not so fast. It had taken two great chemists to work out the details. I knew one of them, but Emilio died before he could share with me the secret of this amazing painting system. Indeed, he had shared everything else, but fate prevented him from sharing this last secret. But I had a sample and knew how it was used. I sent a portion of my sample to a good friend at the Union Carbide lab who, I hoped, could “reverse engineer” or decode my sample. Two weeks later I got his answer: it could be one of about three dozen things, depending on the paper, the water pH and the paint brand. The test results were inconclusive, and the answers I was looking for remained as elusive as before.

I thought about Aqua-Fix from every possible viewpoint. I wondered if it could be some long-lost art product left over from a time 20 or 30 years before when the toxicity of chemicals wasn’t the concern it had become in the 80’s. An easy question, but who to ask?

H. G. DANIELS WAS RIGHT THERE ALL THE TIME

I was, at this time, working in an office building at the corner of 8th and Park View in downtown Los Angeles. Nearby, just a block away, was McArthur Park and just one more street over on 6th Street was H.G. Daniels, the aforementioned art materials dealer. Across the street from Daniels was McManus and Morgan, who was and still is a purveyor of fine artists’ papers. Why here? Because nearby was Otis College of Art and Design and Chouinard Art Institute. Many of Disney’s finest artists came from these schools, much in the same way many do today from Cal Arts in Valencia, California. I didn’t know it at the time, but I worked in the “artists’ triangle.” Because of my work at the time, I became friends with Peter Daniels, one of Harry G’s sons, who ran the store. Daniels introduced me to the National Art Materials Trade Association as well. Still, I was the Lone “Aqua-Fix” Ranger. Surely someone had heard of Aqua-Fix.

After reaching out to associates, friends, and anyone we could think of who might know or have a clue, we finally found out who knew about Aqua-Fix: no one. Absolutely no one could untie this Gordian knot.

AND THE ANSWER IS….

I wasn’t down yet. Had Fred Wallach, who had worked with Emilio on Aqua-Fix, kept notes or notebooks in which his formulas and products were stored? If so, where were they? If I could get to the notebooks perhaps I could find the answer. Fred’s son was the key and I contacted him. The books, along with Fred’s business, had been sold to another company and were not easily available, but the son would inquire for me. I waited weeks. But again, there was no answer: nothing in Fred’s books gave any indication of what Aqua-Fix might be. Back to square one.

Over three years now had passed since Jim Coleman asked me to make more Aqua-Fix for him. He’d moved on and no longer had a need for the product. The tiny sample he’d given me had been poked, examined, and fiddled with so many times that almost nothing was left in the tiny bottle except a memory.

At this point you’d think I would just give up. With the need gone who would care? But it was a missing piece of the Disney puzzle and, like Frank and Ollie, if I didn’t do it now, it would never get done. I had to have missed something. I didn’t know that for sure, but the little voice inside me said I’d missed something. I’d tried everything. Or had I? I returned to Jim Coleman. He described everything just as he had before. This time, however, I asked him to slow down and re-create the process. He retold the same story, but this time I asked scads of questions. He said, “. . . and when the board was dry it was ready to paint.” STOP! Paint with what? “Well, the paints I always use. Disney poster paint.”

Disney poster paints, as they were called at the Studio, were simple paints of whole color but, unlike animation paint, which is made for cels, the poster paint was made for the background painters. And, in many respects, it was a whole other concept. Was THIS the missing link? I had dozens of possibilities, but there could be only one key to unlock the mystery. Working as Emilio and Fred had a long time before, I and our color man, David, re-discovered Aqua-Fix. It turned out to be a very complex answer to a simple problem. What’s more, it is a toxic combination of chemicals that need to be formulated under close supervision. It is not only carcinogenic but mutagenic as well. In other words, it’s not something for home use. In a studio setting, it’s a miracle and worth including in Frank and Ollie’s momentous book.

Do we use Aqua-Fix in the lab today? Indeed we do. Its just part of the fascinating ink and paint magic that makes S/R what it is today. If we don’t save the techniques and materials, we can’t save the art. Frank Thomas was right: “If we don’t do it now, things will get lost, people will change, and the links to the past will disappear.”

Mr. Banks Called!

A nice fellow called me as the year was getting under way. I was just back from a little time off between Christmas and the new year and this was my first question of 2014.
It turned out he is a banker and owns some 30 pieces of animation art. 
Mr. Banks (obviously not his real name) described several different conditions in his art that he had not noticed previously.  Some of the anomalies he described were “cel wrinkling at the edges,” “cel shrinkage,” “cel centers sticking to the backgrounds,” to name just a few.
Given the art he said he owns the descriptions of his observations were in keeping with what I might expect. And, as you might guess, none of the treatments for these conditions could be performed by the owner.
“People who call us for assistance with concerns they are experiencing with their art frequently ask if it’s absolutely necessary for them to send their art to us here in the lab,” explains Amelia Dodge, lab manager. “It’s not our desire to keep people from being good art stewards. In fact, we often make suggestions to art owners to help them economically manage their art’s needs. It’s more a matter of knowing how far to go and what to do when something unexpected happens.“
No two pieces of animation art are the same. And, as Amelia so aptly says above, knowing just how to manage a situation is key to keeping your art healthy and well.
Mr. Banks, upon learning what his art required, said, “Well, I can live with it. I’m good with knowing what’s happening.”
Indeed Mr. Banks can indeed live with his art in a compromised condition, but not for long. Art in a deleterious condition is like an uncontrolled downhill ski run: it picks up speed quickly. In short, the art is changing fast and further deterioration of its condition means loss of value even before you know it. The art owner has no way of knowing when the art has gone too far, precluding any intervention save being discarded.
Here’s another example;  An art owner called to inquire whether we think his Snow White art should be cleaned. It was an innocent question about a serious matter. And the caller was a dentist. Imagine if a patient had waited 65 years to have her teeth cleaned.
Animation art was meant to last a very short time, only long enough to get from the ink and paint department to camera. In the case of the Disney Studio, to insure the art was photographed in good condition, a painter was assigned to the camera department to make last minute touch-ups on cels.
The point of this blog entry is simple: Don’t wait. The value of your art and investment are at stake. Don’t wait until its too late. When is that? Think “RIGHT NOW”!
Ron Stark, Director
1/25/14

Icons in Plastics

In 1988 Dr. Charles Selwitz, a conservation scientist at the Getty Conservation Research Institute, learned about our work with animation art. At the time he was working on a study to explore the strength and use of nitrocellulose in conservation. We supplied cel samples for the study and discussed our treatments and procedures for cels made prior to 1940.

While considerably technical in nature, the study was published with the title, “Cellulose Nitrate in Conservation “. You can find it as a PDF document online here;
www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/pdf…/nitrate.pdf

Dr. Selwitz and his valuable and revealing study and its results plays a part, to this day, in the way we think about the conservation and treatment of nitrate cels. In fact, our treatments and procedures dealing with nitrate cels were a direct response to the Dr. Selwitz’ findings.

You see, conservation scientists provide the window through which conservators view their work. In some of the most formidable labs in the world, these masters of materials run complex tests trying to unravel the unimaginable complexities that face conservators now and in the future. Based on the results of their work we are able build a road map that serves as a treatment regimen, thus anticipating and slowing the degradation of the art so many collectors not only love and care for but have invested in as well.

In a recent lecture, ” Icons in Plastic,” presented by the Getty Conservation Research Institute, four distinguished members of the conservation community gathered to present their observations and experiences dealing within the world of objects crafted of plastic.

Gathered together were Tom Learner, head of Science and leader of the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Initiative; Tim Bechthold, head of conservation at Die Neue Sammlung, the International Design Museum in Munich; Thea Van Oosten, former senior conservation scientist at the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) in the Netherlands; and Roger Griffith, objects conservator at the museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

For almost two hours the participants discussed such issues as lastability, restoration, display, storage, and reversibility. In all, what each had to offer only strengthened our collective knowledge. What we here at S/R Labs have experienced thus far in treating objects made of plastic will continue to change as the objects themselves change.

“While conservation science provides valuable insight into an object’s present condition, it is clear that analysis alone is just part of the story,” observes S/R director Ron Stark. Interestingly, Thea Van Oosten commented in her presentation that “beyond conservation science is the conservator. Matters of restoration and intended purpose are the realm of the conservator.”

Indeed, while conservation science is invaluable in assessing condition “in situ,” or as it is located, knowledge of how the object fairs over time and what contributed to its present condition are conservation answers hidden in years of experience in conservation practice.

The need for record keeping is a keen issue all conservators face, involving the ability to return to not only a single object’s treatment records but to view the records of similar objects and establish trend lines that will provide the logistics for long-term care and conservation.

“Our record keeping system is designed to keep track of our restoration history, with over 30 key “points of interest” in a searchable database custom designed for our practice,” explains Amelia Dodge, lab manager. “And, with more than 35 years of experiences we support the conservation and treatment of animation art from all of the world’s studios”.

What’s interesting to note is S/R Labs is not just an atelier. Here art materials that are no longer mass-produced can be recreated for the requirements of restoration in returning artwork not only to its original appearance but adding to its value and longevity as well.

When we listen, learn, and compare our time-tested approach to the conservation, preservation, and treatment of animation art with that of other conservators and conservation scientists, we know we are delivering on the promise we make to ourselves and the members of our client family every day.

Is It OK to DIY?

A lady called to ask if we could “remove some “dirt” from her Snow White cel”?

It’s not unusual to get that sort of question. We created animation art conservation as a practice in 1977 and since that time we have branched out beyond animation art to paintings, prints, ceramic and porcelain as well as photographs. Most questions like the lady posed requires an ability to see the art itself in order to provide a proper answer. there isn’t much that can be done without actually seeing the problem in person.

The caller was told even though we couldn’t know what the “dirt” on her cel might consist of we haven’t failed yet at cleaning debris from a cel surface.

Her response, however, was a surprise. She would keep trying to get it off herself, she said. Huh?!?

“You see,” she said, “I figure if you can get it off I probably can too!”

It was a surprise indeed.

She has no way of knowing what to expect because she can’t identify the “dirt” and has no knowledge of what different treatment options are possible or what selected chemicals might do to the cel in her attempt to clean it.

Could the “dirt” she is seeing be evidence of the art’s age or previous insult that would give a conservator a clue as to the art’s current condition and need for conservation?

Maybe the “dirt” could be an artist’s mark that would give note of the art’s provenance, travel through time, or production notation? Is the “dirt” really a design element that is supposed to be there?!?

Dirt, as  you might guess, is not always debris and it certainly isn’t always unwanted. “Dirt” tells the experienced conservator a story and is a valuable indicator of the art’s needs going forward.

The lady’s approach is called; flying blind. Its an approach often chosen by super heros and the very foolish.

The point to all this is; keep your hands off your cels and let us know when you see something unique or unusual. DIY (do it yourself) is just plain unthinkable when it comes to fine art.

Note; These timeless tales, and others we post here, are real. They actually happened!

Until next time

Courvoisier Studio Replicas featured in “Saving Mr. Banks”

When recreating Walt Disney’s office for the new film “Saving Mr. Banks” the studio used four of the Courvoisier Studio Replicas to make sure the artwork on the walls was as accurate as possible. Jim Hill reports “Speaking of reproductions … A sharp eyed JHM fan earlier this week sent me a note saying that — while he was watching “Saving Mr. Banks” — he thought that he had spied a few of the Courvoisier Miniatures that he owned in this Walt Disney Pictures release. So I gave Ron Starkof S/R Labs a quick call to confirm. And yes, four of the studio replicas that Ron and his talented artists have produced over the past few years are featured in this film.

You can read the full story here on Jim Hills Media.

Learn more about Courvoisier Studio Replicas here at the Courvoisier web site.

Winter Magic She Lives A Smile and a Song A Brave Tale

 

Vinegaring Syndrome

“Vinegaring” in film and animation cels
Late in 2013 I received a phone call asking about an odd vinegar-like aroma coming, strangely enough, from some cels. While the matter seemed strange to the caller, the issue wasn’t new to us.
 This was far from the first similar inquiry we’d had. Vinegaring syndrome is a serious matter for animation art collectors and film companies world wide. It’s not new. It was first brought to the attention of the Eastman Kodak Company in 1958, some 55 years ago, as I write.
 Later, in 1980, a great deal of attention was paid to the issue because of the vast amount of creative works at risk, to say nothing of the animation cels used up until that time. Remember, this has been, up until now, a film issue, not an animation cel issue.
 I spent time in my early career at Consolidated Film Industries. CFI, the largest motion picture lab and the largest consumer of motion picture film in the world, became part of Technicolor in 2000. I am also co-author of the Complete Kodak Animation Book and worked with Dr. Charles Selwitz at Getty Conservation Research Institute on a study involving the aging of nitrate films. To say I’ve have great resources is an understatement, in addition to working with highly respected people along the way. I am today a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers as well. SMPTE is also at the forefront of this issue. 
In the quest to help collectors understand and cope with an anomaly that can potentially endanger important works in any collection, we have established some important guidelines and treatments for vinegaring syndrome. 
IF you smell a vinegar-like fragrance on or near your artwork or see small grease-like droplets on the surface or between your cels, you have no time to wait. PLEASE call us here at S/R Labs as soon as possible. Your artwork can be cleaned and its surface sealed, helping prevent further loss of its plasticizers and maintain the art’s chemical balance. Our treatments cannot reverse any degradation, but we can prevent future loss.

The Disney color system

Many moons ago S/R Labs acquired the Disney paint system. I felt like Moses receiving the holy tablets and, in fact, the complete story is something of a miracle, you might say. I will leave the details of how that all happened to a book some day. Suffice it to say that when the late Roy E. Disney learned the details he was both surprised and delighted.

What is the Disney paint system?. It’s a lot more than a laundry list of colors and much more significant. It is the totality of Disney animation paint colors broken down into what are called top or full-strength colors, their mixes and various combinations, with their names, numeric designations, and references, which is why it’s called a system. There’s more, but that will do for now.

That first step was only the beginning of an even longer journey. You see, pigments are usually sold in 50 and 100 pound bags or even larger. Because paint formulas rarely call for all pigment, but contain various kinds of extenders, a 100 pound bag of pigment can last decades. The Disney Studio purchased large quantities of pigment so they really never had to refresh their supply over a multi-decade period. Too, Walt’s cost consciousness told him that if you buy a large quantity, you’ll get a smaller price per pound. Of course that makes sense. Later on, much later on, this created a real monster. The pigments purchased years before had become, to a great extent, extinct. That’s right. Gone, never to be made again, because either the company that made a certain pigment discontinued or updated it, or ceased operation and sold the line, or….well, you get the idea. Suffice it to say that dozens of pigments were well out of date by the time we received the Disney paint system. Now here comes the brilliant part. Just after The Black Cauldron finished production the Studio decided it would change the structure of its paint lab and disposed of all powdered pigments. No, I couldn’t believe it either. Many pigments were literally irreplaceable. I tried to rescue them, but the Studio feared some or all were so old they could present a health hazard, and they were correct. The pigments were sent to the dump and the old paint lab was dismantled.

Now, here’s is good part. The National Society for Paint and Coatings Technology has an active retirees club, and the old timers, who hadn’t lost their love of paint technology, would voluntarily help when members needed a hand. We needed lots of hands. Oh boy did we need hands. It took a while, but they put their heads to it and tracked down old cronies. References, and formulas long lost. Was it worth it? Does a bear eat fish? Oh yeah. In time we had a whole new palette of colors that were, by any other name, the old Disney palette.

We had to make several adjustments, but inside of nine months we had the old Disney paint lab completely reconstructed at S/R Labs. Instead of the slow stone mills Disney used, we used a high speed stone mill able to create any Disney color in about 10 or 15 minutes. Colors that are unavailable commercially could be made on short notice, and color matching, when you have the right tones at hand, is a snap.

We are often asked if Disney paint is really magic. In a way, it is. First, the colors are pure, meaning the colors themselves are not combinations of pigments, but are whole and clean. This is a lot more rare than you’d think and makes for a rich appearance. Also, they are ground superfine to the consistency of buttermilk. They flow off the Kolinski sable brushes we use like, well, magic. Their natural gum base is made of a rich combination of chemicals that helps the paint actually flow onto the cel and dry to a soft, satin finish that’s even, flexible, and flat.

With a few adjustments we can create matching ink colors that “stand up” and have the familiar high top that makes Disney cels so remarkably DISNEY. You cannot achieve the same affect with any paint medium available commercially today.

We learned a lot once the Disney paint system was in place. One of my teachers, Emelio Bianchi, who was the last Disney chemist, taught us Disney color theory. For instance, there is no green pigment in Peter Pan’s jerkin. Steve McAvoy, the chemist prior to Emilio, taught us how to create the paints of Sleeping Beauty, which called for certain additives to give them a glow on the screen unlike any paints made before or since.

We’ve learned a great deal in our 36-plus-year history. It is one of the things that gives us the ability to make your art so beautiful and stable.

Next time, I’ll get out my notebooks and tell you the story of finding Disney’s Aqua-fix© and the magical part it played in Disney artistic history.

We’re always glad to help

Got a call, some time back from an old campaigner who’d purchased a drawing on an online auction-like site. Said he’d paid over $800 for it and wanted to know “if its real”.

“Hmm,” I thought. Why in the dickens didn’t he call first to ask. Most of the time I don’t have the luxury of being at my computer just when someone calls for help. But he was a kindly sort of fellow, and I WAS at my computer. So, I bit the hook.

I, gently as I could, explained the drawing he bought is a forgery. His response was, ” how the #$%&! do you know!?”.

Wow, that was a fine howdy-do from someone to whom I am trying to give assistance and comfort. It was, to be sure, kind of an abusive
response. But fate was on my side.

I said, “I’ll tell you how I know; the original is on our lab wall!” It was quite satisfying to give him that news factoid.

He instantly became quite humble once again and asked me what he might do.

That, of course, is the reason for dragging you through the story points here.

CALL US FIRST! Please, for heaven’s sake, don’t get caught unarmed without the facts and information you need to
make an informed decision.

We can’t see everything. For instance, I just examined a few really nice- looking watercolor paintings that were ostensibly from a Disney feature film. Nice but not from or used in the making of any Disney film! But our tests could not have been done by eye alone. It took some delicate chemical testing here in the Lab to REALLY know. Having the actual art in hand made it possible to concretely affirm the authenticity of the watercolor paintings.

So, pay attention and ask questions. If you’re not sure we’re always here to help.

R

Just getting started

Hi. I am delighted to get this blog going as so many have asked, over the years, why doesn’t S/R Labs have a blog?
Well, there are many issues and ideas that we wish to set forth here and I guess now is the time to do so. Naturally, if you, dear reader, have any suggestions for topics you wish us to address please send them along to me at; ron@srlabs.com We will be as quick as we can in responding here for all to see.
Meantime, we are getting ready for our Spring auction, in the third week in May, which I believe will be a fantastic offering.
Check back soon, OK?
Ron Stark, Director