Come visit us at 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.

Member American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Ivory Sculptures Work in Progress

With a temporary base to fortify the Vase with Flowers we’ve started the delicate task of reattaching the broken pieces. We’re using two types of epoxies; one of which dries clear. Tape is being used to hold the delicate areas while we work in the chrysanthemum flower structure that is quite cramped. Still to come will be a new, sturdier base with matching wood. Also, at the midsection, the statue is in two pieces where the flowers meets the vase. These pieces sit freely on each other, and we’ll use restorer adhesives to adhere them and greatly improve the stability. The Dragon Holding Birdcage has been propped, and a few loose planks adhered and weighted down while they dry. Stay tuned for more. . .

Winter Landscape

A thick layer of smoke covered the paint surface of this Snowscape with Creek. Initial testing revealed the extent of the damage, and how transformational the removal would be. Careful cleaning removed these contaminates from the front, and micro vacuuming cleaned the reverse. Conservation varnish finished the restoration.

The artist is Claire Polmateer. She worked in the Traverse City area in the 1930’s, and is documented as serving as an art judge by the Traverse City Record-Eagle newspaper.

Joseph Warner landscape of Longfellow Mountains

This oil on canvas by Joseph Warner (1876 – 1908) was very dry and ready to break from the linen. Tar and nicotine stains covered the entire front surface, and there was some mold on the painting. Deep cleaning removed the tar and nicotine stains, having a dramatic effect, and re-lining gave the painting a stronger foundation, helping support the canvas and give a good foundation to repair a few small holes on the surface. More support was added through hydration, which we were able to apply directly. This was followed with in-painting to conceal the holes and the areas of loss. The original frame was cleaned and backed-up to allow the painting to sit in a way that placed less stress on it.

Joseph Warner was an American bird’s-eye view artist and publisher active in the late 19th century. Warner appears to have worked with the prolific view artist Albert Ruger. Little is known of Warner’s life and only three known views bear his imprint: Portland, Maine; Fenton, Michigan (1880); and Zeeland, Michigan (1907). Two of these were published by Joseph Stoner. He is further known to have worked as an agent for Ruger in the publication of Ruger’s 1879 view of East Saginaw. There is little else known of his life or work. The August 22, 1879 issue of the Daily Courierof Saginaw, Michigan had a mention of the artist, “Mr. Joseph Warner is in the city canvassing for subscribers for a bird’s eye view of East Saginaw.”

Cora Bliss Taylor Floral Finished

Finishing touches to this Cora Bliss Taylor (1889-1986) painting included a re-line and infill with in-painting. The brushwork employed by the artist is on thicker side, which makes it more difficult to capture a clear shot for how the cleaning brought out fuller and richer color tones. A large amount of surface contaminates were removed, however, and this improved the clarity which is important for a delicate subject matter that also contains strong contrasts in color. Infilling provided the new surface to return lost areas with in-painting.

Cora Bliss Taylor was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 14, 1889. Her father was a veteran of the Civil War and passed away when she was 1 years old. During her childhood, the family traveled around the United States, and France when she was 11 years old, which is where she received her first art lessons.

Cora visited Saugatuck, Michigan, which was to become her home, on her honeymoon in 1914, with her husband, James W. Taylor, a Chicago attorney. She studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago with Leon Kroll and Leopold Seyffert; Charles W. Hawthorne, Provincetown, Massachusetts; Andre L. Hote in Paris; Morris Kantor, Art Students League, New York; and Vance Kirkland, Denver University. She was a contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe.

Her paintings are hanging at Hope College, Holland, Michigan; Saugatuck Masonic Lodge, Chicago Public Schools, a number of Women’s clubs, Emerson Unitarian Church, Houston, Texas; Sheridan Public Schools, Sheridan, Texas; and many private homes in Chicago, Western Michigan, and other areas of the country.

Van Duren German Fairy Tale

Oil on canvas circa 1870 to 1910 of a German painting of a fairytale by Cornelius Van Duren (1915 – 2013) came with a large tear, other small tears, scuffs that were minor, heavy airborne contaminates, and deep staining to the surface that masked natural color tones. The young women’s dress is meant to be ivory, for instance, and initial cleaning tests revealed the problematic degree of staining. The severity of the tear was due, in part, to the brittleness of the canvas.

The painting was carefully deep-cleaned, and tented to hydrate the canvas. With weights around the tear, we coaxed the canvas back into place, before performing a formal suture on the reverse. To give more strength to the canvas we re-lined with new linen, and in-filled the areas of loss. Conservation varnish finished the restoration, and a new antique custom frame is in production. Stay tuned for more. . .

Cornelius Van Duren spent part of his life in Holland, Michigan and was a decorated war veteran, serving 30 years in the army in WWII, Korean War and Vietnam. He received the combat infantry badge, bronze star media with valor, among other awards. In 1965 he moved to Long Beach, California where he lived until passing away at the age of 98.

The painting depicts Lily and the Lion by the Grimm Brothers.

Dali Bas Relief

These bas reliefs by Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989) were procured from a gallery for a client, restored, and then placed in new frames. Don Quixote is represented in the first bas relief, a common topic for Spanish art and culture. The other is of Lincoln, and is based off a painting Dali had done earlier called Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln. A couple versions of this painting were executed, but its inspiration came from a Scientific American article Dali read about visual perception which investigated the minimum number of pixels needed to describe a unique human face. Dali was challenged by that question and set about making the portrait of Lincoln with 121 pixels. In his canvas he pushed this concept of perception and external sight.The double image painting also provided a meditation on the dual nature of things. A well-known lithograph was made, entitled Lincoln in Dalivision. It is one of the the most counterfeited Dali lithographs.

Restoration included cleaning and polishing. The boxes they came in were also conserved: a solution was used to treat a small amount of mold, and the insides were micro vacuumed, and some loose velvet was lain back down with adhesive.

New, custom frames were prepared with white gold on the top and silver on the side. Corners were given sgraffito and raised gesso and carved. The Lincoln frame was also given corner blocks. These frames are one-of-a-kind, much like the artist.

Mathias Alten Landscape

This oil painting suffered from old varnish that hard turned a drastic yellow, and it also appeared that shellac was used as well. These had to be removed. The panel it was on had warped, and was put on aluminum honeycomb to provide support. A custom frame will be prepared for it, but the style is yet to be decided on. Stay tuned for more. . .

Born in Gusenburg, Germany, Mathias Alten (1871 – 1938) is hailed as the foremost painter of Grand Rapids, Michigan and a second-generation Impressionist whose primary theme was agrarian labor. He was apprenticed to Joseph Klein, a decorative painter in Saint Wendel, Germany and worked on ceiling and wall decorations for churches and theaters.

At 17, he emigrated to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was a major manufacturing center and vital art community. He studied with Edwin A. Turner and first exhibited his work at the Michigan State Fair in 1896.  Some of his earliest works are floral stilllife, a theme to which he continued to return; he also did figure and portrait painting, but his landscapes defined the direction of his work.

In 1898, he went to France and settled in Paris after spending time painting fishing scenes in Etaples, an artists’ colony on the French coast. He studied at the Academie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens and won a gold metal for the best figure drawing. Interested in animal drawing, he attended classes at the veterinary school and then traveled extensively throughout France and Italy and other parts of Europe.

Returning to Grand Rapids, he and Constant Fliermans opened a studio and art school together, and then on his own he pursued an active career as a a portrait and figure painter, and also did numerous murals. His figure paintings were unusual for that time because they were not elegant subjects but working class people straining their muscles.

From 1902, after spending time at the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony, he became increasingly devoted to plein air rural landscape painting with sparkling sunlight and colors of Impressionism. In 1910, he traveled abroad for a year, doing many rural scenes of Holland, and in New York, he saw paintings by and was much influenced by the Spanish Impressionist Joaquin Sorolla whose work became a lasting influence in subject matter and a palette that was more colorful and sunlit than his previous work. In 1912, he traveled in Spain, and much of his work from that time reflected Spanish subjects.

To escape the harsh winters he made trips to southern California in 1929 and 1933-34. His good friend Norman Chamberlain had settled in Laguna Beach. While visiting there he was active with the local art colony and painted coastal scenes and a series of missions. He achieved success in Los Angeles due to his daughter’s promotion of his works.

He died in Michigan on March 8, 1938.

Hoerman Capri Harbor

This Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955) oil painting suffers from a brittle canvas that lacks strength, as well as a contaminated paint surface from tar and nicotine. Located through the signature is a bad scrape. In one of the windows, there is an area where the painting was hit, and two more scrapes exist in the sky on the right-hand side. The stretcher bar needs more lift to support the canvas, and the frame is contaminated with dirt, has cornering issues, and would help the canvas if it was backed-up. Therefore, it will also be restored.

Across the internet this painting has been called the Italian Harbor and was given a date of 1937. With a little cleaning we discovered the date, right next to Hoerman’s signature, is clearly a 27, and, after some investigation on the internet, we believe that, more specifically, the harborscene depicts a part of the island of Capri, based on the color of the buildings, the mountain structure in the background, and the landmark clocktower on the right hand portion of the painting that appears to be the Piazza Umberto I.

Stay tuned for more. As you can see from our cleaning tests, there is plenty of contamination that needs to come off.

Dutch Winterscene

This wonderful oil on panel has a period Dutch frame that unfortunately has a number of problems and will need a full restoration. Those problems include ornamentation falling off, corners pulled apart, areas with lost gilding, and improper spacing that is strenuous for the painting.

Casts will be prepared to redo the ornamentation, and the corners re-joined. Where the gesso was lost, new gesso will be applied. Back-up will be added to allow the painting to sit with greater freedom, and the epoxy on the panel will be removed,  and the cupping and cracking existent there, will be repaired with a combination of restorer adhesives.

The painting has a varnish that has aged into a milky color. It will need to be removed, which will be more challenging than usual. Early tests have revealed a wonderful touch of white in the varnish that the artist used to mimic snow. Shellac also landed on the paint surface and left splotches. These will be carefully removed.

We discovered a signature behind the rabbet and are in the process of identifying it.

Textile of Washington at Mount Vernon

This family heirloom came in with a fungal invasion, and acid contamination that we believe to have been caused by a stretcher bar. Cleaning, drying, and pressing prepared the textile for an archival mount onto foamcore that was then covered with a single-ply linen mat. A custom frame in the American Hicks style with veneer and black corner blocks was prepared and then given archival glass to finish. Every family heirloom is unique, but this particular textile, with the restoration and custom frame, gave us the opportunity to impart our diverse talents, to what we know will be a cherished keepsake for many years to come.