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

Cora Bliss Taylor Floral

This oil painting suffers from paint loss and surface contaminates. Early cleaning tests have revealed the underlying color tones to be much brighter than what’s shown in its current state.

We would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Saugatuck Woman’s Club and the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society for hosting our lecture yesterday evening. It was a great experience to share our restoration abilities and what effects they can have on artwork, and the response we received was truly overwhelming. We strongly believe in community outreach and broadening culture, and we feel very fortunate for the opportunity we were given.

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.

Mrs. Taylor won the Chicago Woman’s Aid Prize, Edward B. Butler Prize, and Fine Arts Building Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago where she exhibited a number of times. She also was accepted for a number of exhibitions at the Detroit Museum of Arts and won several prizes, including the American Association of University Women’s prize for her watercolor, “Abandoned”. In 1945, she won Honorable Mention for a painting exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She exhibited at the Chicago Galleries Association and other private galleries. Cora was a member of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, and is listed in the original edition of “Who’s Who of American Women”.

In 1931, she founded the Taylor Art School on Holland Street in Saugatuck, a summer art school, with visiting instructors. The Taylor Art Gallery attracted 2,000 visitors who signed the guest register that first year. In 1931, as Art Director of the Saugatuck Chamber of Commerce, she was instrumental in attracting many Chicago people to the Saugatuck area. Mrs. Taylor continued to teach painting for many years, specializing in children. Quite a few of her students went on to make a career in art.

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.

Cora Bliss Taylor passed away at the age of 97 on April 21, 1986.

Alice L. Williams Watercolor

This Alice L. Williams (mid 20th century) watercolor came to us in rather rough shape. Extensive foxing has degraded the paper enough to make holes. Also, major acid contamination occurred from the wood pulp board the watercolor was placed on.

Alice L. Williams was a member of Ox-Bow, following in her mother’s footsteps, Olive, who built the Mary K cottage at Ox-bow in the 1920s. The local legend is that this cottage has a bit of a reputation for ghosts, missing tools, moved equipment, and flickering lights.

Restoration began with the careful removal of the watercolor from its mount. Further stages to come will include de-acidification and the mending of the tears. This restoration is in preparation for the Ox-Bow Summer Benefit, that takes place on Saturday, July 7.  

Restored: HOERMAN KALAMAZOO RIVER OVERLOOKING OX BOW

A shocking discovery was waiting for us when we started to clean this Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955). The artist had used copper paint that reflects, particularly in the orange and red tones, when the light catches it just right. The first few photographs show this attribute. This would have been a very early instance for copper paint. Cleaning continued with great results, as shown by the in-process photographs. Previously, we had sutured the tears on the reverse. These were in-filled and then concealed on the front with in-painting. The original frame suffered from water damage and was also restored. Its key corners were rejoined and re-laminated. A few gauges were also in the frame, and the frame had aged into a brassy color. New gesso and clay were applied before re-gilding and adding new finish.

Ivory Sculptures

A pair of very intricate and fascinating ivory sculptures came in. They were purchased a long time ago and are likely Chinese in origin. The chrysanthemum sculpture sits above a vase that actually contains fish and seaweed.

Trouble stemmed from the flower base and how it freely rests on the wooden base. It’s very top heavy and it fell over and hit the dragon sculpture, which stood nearby, cracking the base of the dragon and causing it to lean down, lowering the birdcage. There were also a “few” broken flower pieces.

An old restoration left epoxy glue that had turned brown. This will, however, offer some clues as to which pieces go where, but the puzzle aspect of the restoration will likely prove to be the most challenging part. To reattach the ivory we’ll use a pair of restorer-grade epoxies, one of which is a glass epoxy and will dry clear. And to protect the chrysanthemum sculpture for the future, we’ll fortify the base making it more sturdy.

The United States banned the sale of ivory objects in 2016. Exempt items include instruments and firearms containing less than 200 grams of ivory, and antiques professionally appraised to be at least a century old. The price per pound of ivory went as high as $1,500, and an estimated 100,000 elephants were poached between 2012-2014.

Peter Max Drawing

This black and white Peter Max (1937-) drawing had fungal and acid invasions, staining, and old tape adhered to it, all of which caused discoloration. A series of three chemistry baths treated these issues and helped bring out the brilliant ink lines that can appear simple when done with the hand of someone talented.

Peter Max was born in Berlin but his family moved to China when he was still very young. They lived in a pagoda-style house amidst a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh temple and a Viennese cafe. From American comic books, radio broadcasts and cinema shows, young Max formed an impression of the land of Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, swing jazz, swashbucklers, freedom and creativity. Ten years later the family made what turned what would turn out to be a slow westerly migration that ended up in the New York City, taking 6 years, and including stops in Nepal, Israel, and Paris.

Max trained at the Art Students League, Pratt Institute, and the School of Visual Arts, all in New York. After closing his design studio in 1964, Peter began creating his characteristic paintings and graphic prints.

As the ’60s progressed, his photo collage style gave way to his “Cosmic ’60s” style, characterized by distinctive line work and bold Fauvistic color combinations. It became his signature style and is said to have developed as a spontaneous creative urge following a meeting with Swami Satchidananda, an Indian Yoga master who taught Max meditation and the spiritual teachings of the East.

His unique symbolism and vibrant color palette have continued to inspire new generations of Americans throughout the decades. He is also a passionate environmentalist and defender of human and animal rights, often dedicating paintings and posters for these noteworthy causes. His decorative designs are on a Boeing 777 Continental, Dale Earnhardt’s #3 Millennium race car, U.S. postage stamps and 235 U.S. border murals. He created two 155-foot murals for the U.S. Pavilion at the Seville World’s Fair in Spain, 12 postage stamps for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a 600-foot stage mural for Woodstock 2. He has also painted for five U.S. presidents, as well as the Beatles, Aerosmith, and the Rolling Stones.

After September 11th, 2001 Peter Max began a project by finishing 356 portraits of the firefighters that were lost in the attack. His portraits were then given to the victims’ families. In addition, from a special request from President George W. Bush, he recently created another 356 portraits for a firefighters’ memorial.

He loves to hear amazing facts about the universe and is as fascinated with numbers and mathematics as he is with visual phenomena.

“If I didn’t choose art, I would have become an astronomer. . . I [am] fascinated with the vast distances in space as well as the vast world within the atom.”

Andy Warhol’s Liz Taylor Behind Museum Glass

Iconic Liz Taylor by Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) is a silk screen print. This type of artwork is known for being difficult to treat acids stains, as the typical treatment is a chemistry submersion, but that would cause the inks to move. Therefore we used a cotton blotter, and gently applied chemistries to the reverse.

A break in the paper on the edge was addressed by introducing new material of a similar composition, and the ripples from the excessive manner in which its was hinged, were taken care of by flattening. The print was then re-fit in its frame with a strainer to improve structural strength, and the glass was upgraded to museum glass, which is known for its see-through quality.

Willie the penguin, icon of KOOL

This iconic piece of history had cracked at the feet and in the paper mache along the front of the statue. Lost areas were rebuilt, redoing the paper mache in layers working from the interior, and the craquelures in-painted.

Willie the penguin was introduced in 1934 by The Ted Bates Advertising Agency. During the time there were several other cartoonish spokespersons like Kellog’s Snap, Crackle & Pop, Reddy Killowat, and the Campbell’s Kids. Willie’s product line included salt and pepper shakers, ash trays, holders for wooden matches, lighters, and when air-conditioning was introduced, a version was created to suggest customers to enter a storefront because it was “kool” inside. It has also been debated that a picture of Willie wearing a top hat was the inspiration for the Penguin character in Batman. Regardless, Willie appeared in his own comic books after he was licensed by Standard Comics for six issues, with the cigarette brand dropped from the title. By the ’60s, however, the company had shifted advertising focus and opted for wintry outdoor scenes to promote their business.

HH Betts, Mountains and Birches with Cabins

This oil painting suffers from heavy tar and nicotine stains across the surface. The first step is deep cleaning, which we’ve made strides already. Still to come will be the complete transformation, and a back-up to the frame to allow the painting to sit with ease. This restoration will be a great example for how a simple thing like cleaning can greatly influence how a painting looks.

From a prominent family of painters, Harold Betts (1881 – 1951?) followed in his ancestral footsteps and became a painter and illustrator, making important trips West in 1913 and 1929. He became especially known for his Grand Canyon paintings and his depictions of Pueblo Indians.

Betts lived in Chicago where he exhibited at the Art Institute; and in Muskegon, Michigan where he exhibited at the Hackley Gallery. He also exhibited at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Dajou Oil Painting

Dajou was a French painter born in the 19th Century. This painting is a self-portait with two onlooking friends, and it has a strong resemblance to one of Dajou’s popular works, The Connoisseurs. This is a wonderful piece of art with the incredible detail of the paintings hanging on the back wall, the varied poses of the onlookers, the intricate design in the wood floor. The work is dated 1879, but the odd thing is that the attire of the onlookers predates this by about a century. Both the frame and the painting will be restored. Stay tuned for more. . .