All things require upkeep in order to maintain working order and appearance, furniture is certainly no exception. Everyone knows this fact, yet furniture is likely one of the most neglected of all your possessions. New furniture, collectibles, and antiques all require upkeep. Antiques are the most controversial of the categories for maintenance, as there are some remaining in the mindset that doing anything to an antique ruins its value. To those people I have one question to ask: “Do you know of ANYONE driving around in a Ford Model-T bragging about having the original oil?!”
Maintenance is critical to a vehicle, critical to a plane, critical to a firearm, critical to equipment, critical to a house … WHY … then is it not considered critical to furniture? If you believe that it is in your best interest to sit at an antique table that is falling apart in front of you, the finish is gone, and the wood is slowly turning to dust then perhaps you would like to live in a home with a leaking roof, holes in the floorboards into the basement, and missing windows? It amazes me that people simply refuse to, or out of fear from old episodes of “Antiques Roadshow,” believe they will lose their first born if they simply repair a broken antique desk.
We’re due for an update on this article, entitled “The Philosophy of Restoration,” but it basically covers the concepts of restoration. This is a must read for all antique furniture collectors, as well as those in possession of hand made heirloom furniture made today. Artisans is on a mission to refute the myth that furniture restoration destroys antiques. Without proper care, the antiques of today – well – simply won’t exist tomorrow!
Artisans delivered a credence table to a local church in 2002, give or take now about seven years ago. The table was a memorial project for American Airlines Pilot Captain Edward States, completed in solid oak this hand carved New Wave Gothic communion table features dogwood in gillochet carvings on the apron, an Episcopal shield, acanthus leaves on the feet, scroll work, rope carving, and small crosses and bibles. All joint work is mortis and tenon, the top is planks with a band of oak and mitered corners. The piece is designed to blend with with Gothic decor existing in the church architecture and furnishing.
A couple weeks ago we retrieved it to perform a full regiment of touch-ups and repairs and apply a fresh coat of finish. The last seven years of constant use, movement to accommodate events, exposure to cleaning fluids, and general use all play a factor in the life of a piece.
Our plan for this table was to create a priceless heirloom, but let’s cover this very clearly: Even an heirloom needs care! The structure of the piece is entirely intact, a few ornamental appliques are now loose, and the finish has taken some scares. The fact that the appliques are loose quite honestly is upsetting to us, it means our decision to switch adhesives (shortly after this project unfortunately) was a good choice. Since this time we’ve had no trouble with anything coming lose; constant changes in formulas of adhesives and finishes is a major industry issue these days, but something we all have to adapt to in order to ensure our chemicals adhere to current environmental standards.
Our job was to address the issues with the appliques, which ultimately ties back to a failing in the adhesive we used at the time, and we’re now correcting the problem to avoid this issue in the future. The finish will be cleaned and lightly sanded to allow the application of two fresh coats of tung oil. This is a perfect example of how tung oil is a renewable finish; there is absolutely no need to strip this piece to maintain the finish. A renewal is all it takes to completely revitalize the beauty of this unique heirloom.
For more information about our memorial credence table please download our documentary of the project entitled “Creating a Priceless Heirloom.” Artisans of the Valley can design and build a variety of custom furniture including church and synagogue pieces. Visit our religious furniture section for more details and examples. All our custom furniture is by commission, hand made, signed, and heirloom quality.
Be Sure to Visit www.artisansofthevalley.com or call us at 609-637-0450!