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

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. . .

William Wilson Cowell Nautical Painting

It’s been a long journey for this nautical painting by William Wilson Cowell (1819-1898). First, yellowed varnish was removed to reveal impressive and rich blue tones. Upon further investigation, we realized there was a hole in the top right portion of the painting, and that the varnish had been used a concealer.  A previous attempt to repair the hole had used an in-fill substance that is a bit hard and not as pliable as other substances that could be used. We had to remove the old in-fill, along with other contaminates on the paint surface, before in-filling correctly and in-painting to match the original colors. Finally, a new coat of conservation varnish was applied.

The original frame, in the Art Noueveau style, was a great artistic complement to the painting. We removed surface contaminates and a fungus invasion, as well as added a back-up to allow needed breathing room for the painting to sit free of the frame.

Hope College President John C. Knapp Portrait and Installation

The 12th president of Hope College, Dr. John C. Knapp, served from 2013 to 2017. It was a tenure that saw the launching of “Hope for the World: 2025,” a 10-year strategic plan to grow the college as a place of academic excellence, faith development, inclusiveness, and global engagement. He furthermore established the Presidential Colloquium lecture series that brings notable speakers to address national and global issues. And in 2016, the college joined the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan as an educational partner to bring international experts to the campus through the council’s Great Decisions Global Discussion Series.

The portrait artist was Larry Blovits (1936-). He is known for oil and pastel portraits, as well as landscapes. He has received numerous awards and honors in national shows since 1962.

We prepared an American Impressionist frame with 22 karat gold, detailed with a leaf motif, after the Twachtman style, and installed it professionally at Hope College. All but three of the frames in the portrait room were made by us, and the others we were restored by us. We are very grateful to be able to lend the portrait an esteemed quality, as well as an overall theme of tradition and excellence for the leaders of such an important and local institution.

Hoerman Kalamazoo River Overlooking Ox Bow

In this painting, Carl Hoerman (1885 – 1955) captured a spot along the Kalamazoo River overlooking Ox Bo, which actually turned out to be the view from his studio. It is a large painting, 43″ x 50,” and unfortunately is incredibly threadbare. In addition there are two gashes in the top right corner, one of which is substantial. The decomposition of the linen was probably due to environmental factors, most likely exposure to prolonged heat. These factors compromised the already low thread count linen, which was further taxed by the large size of this artwork. In its present condition, the painting is very susceptible to further tearing.

Restoration will add a strong foundation to the linen reverse, and the tears will be sutured, enclosed, and in-painted where any loss occurred. The period frame, an excellent example of mid century American Impressionist style, will be refurbished to once again show off this fine painting to great advantage.

Steve Nelson Gelatin Silver Print

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.

Cowell Nautical

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.

Abstract Composition in Yellow and Red by Evie Hone

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 . . .