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Artifact: Restoration - Preservation - Conservation

In general Restoration involves returning a piece to its original condition, with careful consideration of the materials and techniques used at the time, yet mostly disregarding the historic changes and condition caused by use over time.


Whereas Preservation endeavors to preserve a piece, mostly as-is, while maintaining its historical integrity.


Conservation is a somewhat strict practice aimed to halt further deterioration and maintain as much of the original piece and condition as possible, with little alteration to its appearance.


In our work, we tend to perform hybrid restoration / preservation techniques to keep items in  service while maintaining their characteristic patinas.


As an example, this Wooten Rotary desk (ca.1877) was purchased by a client who wanted to maintain as much of the historic character as possible, yet also wanted a desk for daily use.


This desk was in rough shape, and upon closer inspection it was obvious someone had applied another finish over the original.  We chose to carefully remove both finishes with minimal disruption the underlying wood and embedded finish.

Fine art, furniture, memorabilia, collectables, artifacts, mid century, grandfather clock, long case clock, eames chairs, wooten rotary desk, shellac

 As the existing finishes both appeared to be shellacs, they were reasonably removed through hand scraping.  The scraped surfaces were lightly sanded, then we liberally wiped the surfaces with denatured alcohol to re-solve the remaining shellac providing a sealed surface and preserved much of the historic patina. This process also established a base to build the remaining finish. 


We opted for shellac as the restoration finish since it was the original finish and provides a certain warmth to the piece. Also shellac is easily touched up, unlike lacquer.  Shellac is also an effective toner, which allowed us to vary the number of coats depending upon the color of the underlying wood thereby balancing the final finish.


Let’s discuss the requirements of your artifacts.

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