Transparency in Art Restoration

The restoration of art is often seen as a luxury service, afforded to some but not others, while cloaked in an air of mystery. However, by continuing this mentality, we are not only doing a disservice to the industry, but also to the very artwork we are trusted to preserve. Whether of cultural significance or sentimentality, or both, all artworks deserve the time and care it takes to maintain their purpose.

For this reason, we are especially concerned about providing quality care, full disclosure of the methods of treatment, and a vastly more accessible price point. By being completely transparent in our processes and the materials, we make the process of restoring your art accessible, meaning that more art can receive the treatment it needs to continue to showcase its personality, your taste and its cultural significance.

Here is a decorative wall hanging we recently completed. For the owner, it is priceless, conjuring up feelings of home, her childhood while also offering a small daily reminder of her mother. It is in these pieces, that we feel most humbled. Family heirlooms connect generations in a deep personal way, and by continuing to push for the equality of sentiment, as opposed to just market value, we preserve areas of history often forgotten. However, due to the overarching thought that these pieces are “not worth” keeping, they are often easily damaged or discarded. Common problems with more sentimental items include light bleaching, nicotine staining common in mid-century households, humidity and plain old careless handling.

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A progress photograph from halfway through the cleaning process

While the before and after is not a massive difference in this case, the piece is now clean of a discolored varnish layer and odorous surface. This allows it to continue its purpose, without obstructing the memory of its owner.

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A simple solution with cotton swabs

The process begins by testing the surface of the piece, with a variety of different solvents, to determine what solution will be most effective in cleaning the varnish, without damaging the delicate paint film underneath. This is a gentle balance, which varies on each piece we work on. This is often why the examination process is as it says, A PROCESS.  We are equipped with a few standard solutions, but in some cases, a custom solution designed by the conservator will be most effective. Once determined, the piece is cleaned by a cotton swab one square inch at a time, paying careful attention to the stability of the paint film underneath.  Afterwards, the clean surface is coated with a natural varnish layer to protect the fresh surface for another generation.

It is our honor and duty to preserve each piece with the same amount of care and detail, but with careful consideration of the time it takes to do so. This is why, with each piece, we evaluate equally, regardless of the provenance or market value.

 

 

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