Come visit us in Hamilton, Michigan or our new studio at 196 West 29th Suite B Holland, Michigan. We’re a high quality restoration studio providing services for artwork, furniture, and other treasured objects. We also produce museum-quality custom frames. Please call us for an appointment.
The Mongolian sculpture is part of the permanent collection at the Kruizenga Art Museum.
Member American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
Special thanks to Kallie Walker Photography // kalliewalker.com
Artist and Hope College professor, Steve Nelson, took this photograph in the UP of an abandoned iron quarry; this is a larger work with a frame size of 52″ x 43 1/2.” Gelatin silver prints are a general term describing the most common process for making black and white photographs since the 1890s. A variety of photographic print papers were introduced in the 1880s. It can be thought of as an in-the-camera technique that complements the wet plate process. The custom frame we made and designed with the artist is a Modern Gallery L-shaped frame with white gold, and includes a top mat but also a hidden reverse cut mat to give the illusion that it floats.
A new handmade Dutch frame modernized with simplified lines but with 17th Century proportion and manufacturing style. The wood is mahogany with a walnut feel, and the liner was done in white gold and includes a gauche.
Extensive varnish removal for this William Wilson Cowell (1819-1898) oil painting revealed a hidden hole in the top right corner. The varnish was likely a ploy to hide this damage. Restoration will finish with in-painting, and treating the frame for a mold invasion. Stay tuned for more . . .
William Wilson Cowell was primarily an East Coast artist who also was known to paint in the Great Lakes area, and in Nova Scotia, Canada during the later years of his life. He trained in Europe in the 1840’s and upon his return to America, he studied marine painting with Edward Moran and J. Faulkner at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.
Exhibitions of his work at the Brooklyn Art Association, Pennsylvania Academy, and Art Institute of Chicago are noted. Like many other artists, the works of A.T. Bricher and F.A. Silva from of the Luminist school influenced William Wilson Cowell. Combining the teachings of Ruskin with the influence of the Luminist he was able to compose wonderful, light-brimming expressions of nature.
A dry foundational linen had caused cupping issues in the paint film of this abstract oil on canvas by Evie Hone (1894 – 1955). The old wax reline was removed, and the original linen was hydrated, to make it pliable and supple, and then doubled with a stronger linen using a restorer’s adhesive. This gave the painting a strong and resilient base that allowed us to then take care of the topical issues, namely the cupping, dirt contamination, and old in-painting.
With heat and pressure we were able to consolidate the cupping, laying it flat with the surface, and after several cotton tips we were able to clean the surface contaminants and help bring out the original color, an important characteristic for an abstract painting such as this one. In the few areas where cupping resulted in paint loss we applied new pigments, matching to the original. At this time we also corrected some old in-painting by removing it and then using proper technique to redo it. The original varnish was old and had yellowed. It was removed and then the painting was given a final coat of new conservation varnish.
Stay tuned for the fitting in its new handmade Modernist frame with Cubist elements in beech wood, painted to match the original . . .
This is an Audubon that was published in 1836 Habell, printed and hand-colored. And as you can see by the photographs, it is in really rough shape. A specially targeted water bath in our new studio helped to lift glue and old scotch tape that probably predates the 1930s. Still work to be done but we love the new larger space and the ease with which we can handle these larger works.
This 17th Century drawing was probably intended to be a study for a shaped, final painting. The workmanship is superb, and shows great ability, but unfortunately the paper has not been handled with the greatest care. It is handmade paper laid with linen content, which is typical for early Italian sheets. The types of damage are numerous: water and ink damage, a fold down the center, pinholes where the artist likely secured the paper, insect invasion, deterioration, and asphaltum. The first step will be to clean and de-acidify the drawing. The asphaltum is on the reverse, and this will need to be carefully removed. For the areas of loss, caused by insects, chemicals, and aging, these will be replaced with paper consistent to the original. We are in the process of designing a frame, and are leaning towards an Italian style with a feather sgraffito.
On the left and right edge, there are stamps that appear to be household stamps that would have belonged to a wealthy Italian family and would have helped them to document their family items.
This abstract oil on canvas by Mainie Jellett (1897 – 1944) suffers from expansion and contraction, a layer of dirt contamination, which is derived from its great “texture” quality, and on the reverse, a patch from a previous restoration. Careful cleaning had to be carried out in a slower manner due to the texture of the artwork and its susceptibility to lifting even with cotton tips. A rolling technique was used instead of a swirling technique. This was a slower process but the amount of contamination we were able to remove was quite staggering. The original linen was a burlap linen fabric that was severely compromised and ready to fall apart. Consolidation was done to halt the deterioration, and then re-lining with new Belgian linen provided greater strength that will be essential for a painting with as much structure as this one. Around the edges, in-painting was done to conceal the places where the original diamond points held in the liner and caused damage.
Jellett used a two varnish system that depended on the different texture of the artwork. The two types were satin, that gives a shine and makes the colors pop, and matte, that absorbs light and diffuses the color. Using software we carefully labeled which varnish was applied to which texture in order to keep accurate what was intentionally chosen by the artist.
Bottom middle was where the tear had been.
With a French mat prepared in the handmade manner: attaching watercolor paper to museum board and then with a ruling pen, creating lines and panels, and with watercolor washes incorporating color tones connected with the art, we gave this George Catlin (1796-1872) print an archival fit. A new American Impressionist frame with feather and ripple carving, gilded in 22 Karat gold, was created to complete the conservation of this magnificent print. We are very happy with the results, taking the artwork from a state of discolored foxing and staining, to accenting its qualities with a French Mat, and then making it the centerpiece of a grand and ornate, gilded frame.
George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse Cleaning
George Catlin Catching the Wild Horse
Ruling Pen and Case.
With the help of our new space, and its extra room, we were able to easily fit these wonderful textiles into shadow box plexiglass frames. Another variable caused by their size, was transportation. To return them we ended up renting a delivery truck, and then carefully installed them in the client’s home–a beautiful home that superbly presents these textiles. The shadow boxes are mahogany with custom liners covered in black linen with wool felt as a conduit to safely attach the textiles. This was our first large project in our new space and we couldn’t be happier with the space and with what it allows us to do.
This silkscreen print by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) suffers from an introduction of acid-based elements that have led to staining. In the top-right portion of the paper we discovered a break, and ripples have formed in the paper, caused by the mechanism used to hinge the artwork. We are very excited to work on such an iconic piece of American Art, and can’t help but notice the serendipitous timing, with the Oscars happening over the weekend.
“Warhol chose the source image for this painting of actress Elizabeth Taylor from a publicity photograph of her 1960 film, Butterfield 8. He created this portrait when Taylor was at the height of stardom, but was also very ill with pneumonia. Warhol remembered: “I started those [pictures of Elizabeth Taylor] a long time ago, when she was so sick and everyone said she was going to die. Now I’m doing them all over, putting bright colors on her lips and eyes.” Art historian Robert Rosenblum reflects on Warhol’s artistry both of technique and of selection: “the contradictory fusion of the commonplace facts of photography and the artful fictions of a painter’s retouchings was one that, in Warhol’s work, became a particularly suitable formula for the recording of those wealthy and glamorous people whose faces seem perpetually illuminated by the afterimage of a flash-bulb.” Source: warhol.org