Antiques (Part 3)

Restoring Value (Part 3)

By Andrea Daly


There are many products used within the restoration process: cleaners, adhesives, fillers, paints, and coatings. It all breaks down to these five categories; there are many choices in each group. It is the “objective” that will dictate what choices to make. Most of the demand in the commercial world falls into the “aesthetic value”; a very low percentage falls into “preservation value.” Knowing that the larger percentage of work is in the firstcategory, the reputable restorer will keep as priority the integrity of the item, meaning that the restorer will use products that will secure the longevity of the item; this will keep the item from being compromised; only reversible products will be used.

Reversible Products:

What is meant by reversible products? This is where the two philosophies “aesthetic” and “preservation” agree. It is important to use products that can easily be removed with no further damage to an item; that is the reputable restorer’s goal. As the study of restoring antiques deepens it will become clear as to what choices of products and the processes that will best suit the situation. These choices will need to be made on an individual bases, there are no set rules for all items, other than doing no further harm.

Further Harm:

When the structure of an item is changed such as placing paint as a coating, taking parts from another item and combining (marriage) to make a new piece, reshaping an area or section, or using adhesive such as epoxies or instant glues, these things are frowned upon. These procedures are not placing the integrity of the item as priority.

An items value:

This is where it becomes more complicated. Let’s not be myopic that we loose sight of the big picture; time to go back to the OBJECTIVE. For instance, if someone has a mirror that is sentimental due to the fact that is the only piece that is left as a result of a fire, and they want a custom frame using the few salvage parts that were left to be made into a decorative art piece, and the creative craftsman recreate a new image using the salvage parts, is that okay? Where does one draw the line? Should the craftsmen refuse to recreate the remains into a new existence and only encourage rebuilding the old piece so it will have the look of its original condition? There are so many variables that enter into the picture; go back to the OBJECTIVE. This stems from that person who claims ownership. If they choose to have it painted purple with yellow pin stripes, who has the right to say it is not ethical? Let the market, dictate the service. We have museums that have basements filled with items that are decaying away because of lack of room, we have museums that house wonderful objects, we have whole cities dedicated to restoration and everything in them, so why are we concerned over what our individual tastes dictate on an individual item? Break out of the mind set that if we are taking off a finish we are destroying an item. What is the objective? Is it the aesthetic “look” based on sentimental value, or historical value or is it preservation; then go forward. Sometimes it may be okay to loose the historical value; just think 200 years from now the possibility of what has been done may make it even more valuable!