Decorative Arts Projects

Mother of Pearl Opera Glasses

These gilt brass and mother of pearl opera glasses (circa 1881) were in need of some cosmetic restoration. Thankfully, the lenses and mechanism were in excellent condition. The original adhesive used to apply the mother of pearl had become discolored and desiccated, separating the mother of pearl from the turned metal substrate. With the use of high-grade epoxies, we were able to apply the fallen pieces and seal what remained intact to prevent further deterioration. The contours were shaped to match the original surface ...

Handel Lamp Shade

We have seen countless examples of Handel lamp shades over the years. The earlier forms depict expertly painted landscapes that glow from within. Reverse painted enamel creates a sense of depth when viewed through the delicately patterned exterior and the light often resembles that of the setting sun. This particular shade came to us in dozens of pieces, but we have dealt with much worse. We reassembled every last piece provided to us, including some as small as a grain of rice, and the reconstructed ...

Wooden Music Box

This is the ornate case of a 19th c. German music box. Originally it could play several tunes (fewer than an MP3 player, but the same idea) and the case was a magnificently detailed wooden baroque scene of cherubs and ornate vegetation. Sitting for a while in water, however, revealed that it is actually made from glued sawdust (a precursor of pressboard) with a thin veneer of dark hardwood that had apparently been steamed and pressed into a very elaborately ...

Wood-Handled Knives

These were two boxed sets of very high-quality Sheffield steel - steak knives in one box, and carving implements in the other. Made in the 1950s, they were given pearl plastic handles which were originally strong and resilient. The makers probably thought that they were superior to the somewhat fragile mother-of-pearl that might originally have been used. These boxes lay unopened for about fifty years, and upon opening revealed that the plastic handles had completely degraded – leaving the Sheffield ...

Vintage Bathroom Sink

There are times when a sink or other porcelain fixture is worth saving. Sometimes it is part of a color suite, and the whole set would need to be changed out (exact color matches in porcelain replacements are extremely hard to find except in white). The durability and design of such a piece may also be irreplaceable, as there was a time when plumbing fixtures were made to last as long as possible. This sink had two problems – there was ...

Micro Mosaic Greyhound Brooch

Micro mosaics like these were done in the 18th and 19th centuries by the same workshops in Rome that meticulously copied all the paintings in the central nave of St. Peter’s, and replaced them so that the originals could be kept in a humidity controlled, incense-free environment. It was even noted, at the time, that the atmosphere inside the huge volume created by the enormous dome, had its own weather – and sometimes even created clouds that would hover in ...

Tiffany Glass Pendant Shade

This is a Tiffany glass globe that broke out on the side. Although we had all the pieces, the simplicity of the final surface made the assembled pieces quite obvious. Even though the optical epoxy made the seams almost disappear, there was a slight surface expression of the seams. The next step was to mask off the surface to limit the extent of our coating. Then we airbrushed several clear coats – first to completely cover the seams, then to polish the ...

Lead Garden Fountain

When a lead statue falls over there are problems. The metal is so soft, and so heavy, that the impact alone causes tearing and severe deformation. This fountain, about three feet tall, also had a couple of repair attempts that needed to be removed. The lead was re-bent. There were losses that were filled, and the water supply pipe that went up the foot was strengthened – and a rod put into the other foot for further stability. The water ...

Blue Glass Pitcher

American glass from the 18th and 19th centuries has become an intensely collected field. We have worked with many examples of early American glass. This pitcher needed reconstruction and some small fills along the lines of breakage. The soda-lime glass is a good match for the refractive index of our optical epoxy, and the repair is quite inconspicuous.

Outdoor Lantern

This outdoor lantern was one of a pair, made from sheet iron and copper, both in very similar condition: the door hinges, and most of the door frames, had rusted through. This eventually deposited the front glass panels on the ground in pieces. There was a good deal of rust and corrosion overall. They had been fixtures in the yard for so many years that they had been overlooked – and the new owners wanted them still looking like they ...