It's a busy but happy time for the folks at S/R
Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center. And not just because their
annual Spring auction gets underway today. Which means that - now through tomorrow afternoon PT- some rarer-than-rare cels, storyboard and concept
sketches will be coming up for bid.
Image courtesy of S/R Laboratories, Inc.All rights reserved
No, Ron Stark and
his team in Westlake Village are happy these days because S/R Laboratories
Animation Art Conservation Center has just recently become an official licensee
of the Walt Disney Company.
"After 30 years in the business, we're now officially an overnight success," Stark quipped. Back in the mid-1970s, Ron actually
pioneered the practice of animation art conservation. "We began in 1976 as a project of the animation
society, with the hope of then fulfilling the dreams of the animation art
collecting community by professionally caring for their artwork. On our own
since 1983, now with our new association and partnership with Disney, S/R Labs
kicks an exciting new chapter in our history."
Ron Stark shows a sampling of some of the 15,000 colors that S/R Labs animation art conservators have at their disposal. Photo by Jim Hill
Which isn't to that - even before they
cut this new deal with Disney -- that there weren't already exciting
things going on at S /R Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center. Late
last Fall, Ron personally took me on a tour of his facility in Sherman Oaks.
Which I can only describe as being this weird combination of a hospital, the
greatest animation art gallery you'll ever see and a
Throughout the S/R
Laboratories Animation Art Conversation Center, dedicated staffers were
seemingly doing the impossible. Which involved taking these incredibly fragile
pieces of celluloid that had once been used in the creation of classic Disney
films like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" ...
Here's a beautiful Courvoisier original of the Seven Dwarfs which -- because the paint has begun to chip & fall off of the back of this piece of celluloid -- now needs some serious TLC. Photo by Jim Hill
... "Pinocchio" ...
Paints at the ready, S/R Labs conservators gets ready to repair a Geppetto cell. Photo by Jim Hill
... and "Bambi."
Here's a perfect example of the sort of restoration magic that S/R Labs can do. Taking thedamaged almost-beyond-repair Bambi celluloid on the left and then replicating this piecewith stable paints and inks on the right. Photo by Jim Hill
And then - by taking what
can only be described as a surgical operation to the restoration of these
decades-old pieces of animation art - S/R Labs
carefully matches paint colors, no mention replicating & repairing fine
bits of inking line work. And what was once a mess of chipped paint and cracked
celluloid then becomes a beautiful piece of animation art that's been restored to its former glory.
Of course, what
really helps here is that - as Walt Disney Feature Animation was
stepping away from using actual ink & paint in the production of its
animated features in the late 1980s and then embracing the CAPS system -- S/R
Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center was there.
Check out all of the paints & inks that are necessary toreplicate this image from "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day." Photo by Jim Hill
"It took us decades to do this. But the
color books that S/R Labs created internally are the most thorough and
accurate that currently exists," Stark explained. "Our paint library features more than 15,000
different colors, all individually matched to films and characters. Which means
that our conservators can - with complete accuracy and authenticity - match the precise shade that was used to paint a
character in a particular scene of any Disney animated feature."
Amelia Dodge prepares to work some color magic as she gets ready to replicate somecolors on a Tinker Bell cel. Photo by Jim Hill
Mind you, in order
to replicate some of these shades in a archival-friendly form of paint, you
need someone who has the skills of a chemist AND a colorist. Luckily, S /R Labs
has Amelia Dodge on staff. Who - as Lab Supervisor - is an absolute whiz when it comes to matching
S / R Labs also
can replicate the delicate inking that was done on cels of this era. Thanks to
Beth Ann Gee's skilled hands as well as the fact
that S /R Labs was able to locate a stash of Esterbrook and Gillot pen nibs.
Which are the exact same long-out-of-production pen nibs that Disney's own inkers used to use back when they were inking
cels back in the 1940s & 1950s.
Beth Ann Gee carefully inks a Courvoisier Miniature. Photo by Jim Hill
But what's truly great about S/ R Labs that they're now able to take all of their years of
experience when it comes to restoring animation art and then apply that to the
creation of whole new pieces for their Courvoisier Miniatures line.
It takes a really steady hand to ink Tink. Photo by Jim Hill
pieces are just 8.25" x 6.75" (i.e. just a
quarter of the size of a standard production animation cel), S /R Laboratories
Animation Art Conservation Center doesn't stint on
quality. Every Courvoisier Miniature is hand inked and painted in the tradition
of the finest Disney eras of animation art. What's more, each piece
is embellished with special effects doine in the original styles. Airbrushed
enhancements, such as delicate shadows, are applied individually to each cel
with Paasche´ airbrushes, just as they were done
back in the day at Disney Studios.
And as you can see
by these shots of the then-in-production "A Brave Tale" Courvoisier Miniature ...
Mickey seems startled by the number of paint colors that are used to create a Courvoisier Miniature. Photo by Jim Hill
... this piece (which was created from an
original drawing by Disney Legend Fred Moore) was produced with
complete fidelity to the craft & the artistry that was originally used to
create the Mickey Mouse cartoon that inspired this piece, 1938's "The Brave Little Tailor."
"We're very excited about "A Brave Tale," said Ron Stark,
Director of S/R Labs. "Not only because we are continuing the
Disney legacy by producing artwork as it was made over 70 years ago, but also
because S/R is now an official Disney licensee, allowing us at last to
introduce new and unique animation art editions we've had in our imagination for years. I think the
Disney animation art collecting community is in for a real treat."
Here's a veritable Silly Symphony full of classic Disney characters on celluloid that S/RLabs hopes to restore & frame someday. Photo by Jim Hill
Which is why it's probably wise to keep an eye on S/R Labs in the
weeks and months ahead. Not just so you can then bid on some of the terrific
pieces of animation art that always come up for bid at their annual Spring
& Fall online auctions. But also for all of those handmade bits of magic
that S /R Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center - now that it's an official
Disney licensee - will soon be making available for
FYI: If you're looking to get on the ground floor when it comes
to these exciting new line of animation art collectibles, Courvoisier
Miniatures are available through exclusive retail dealers and at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. For a list of dealers or more information on
the Courvoisier Miniatures line, please click on this link.
Image courtesy of S/R Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved
I took a couple of my cels to S/R Labs for restoration. Ron was very friendly, gave me a quick appraisal of my work, and told me that it could take up to a year before they were able to get to my cel; but they wouldn't charge me before they started working on it. After a year and a half I called to find out the status of my cel. A rather curt woman (I believe it was Amelia) told me that if we they hadn't contacted me yet then they hadn't started yet, and they would contact me when it was my turn. 6 months later I was told that my cel was up and they charged my account. A year later they finally finished. The entire process took over 3 years! The work they did was top notch, but the customer service after my initial visit was non-existent. I feel like clear communication would have eased my frustration. If they had been up front that the process would take 3 years, or had called me every couple of months to give me an update on my art, or even had a website that I could look at to find out the status of my art, I would have been less frustrated. When I finally did pick up my art they hadn't done the appraisal that I had already paid for. Needless to say I will not be using their services again.
I want join!!how?