Ode to the Upholsterer, Reprise

W00 HOOKERS COUCHHe’s stuffed a chair on every street,
or hassocks on which to put your feet.
A fainting couch for Ms Récamier,
looking Grecian but really fey.

W02 EGG AFTER 5 MPFCA modern Egg for Madmen there,
Took ten thousand hand stitches to be fair;
An Eastlake love seat whose threads were bare
Was given new life, it’s only fair!

W13 EASTLAKE SOFABED AFT 1MPFC

Mattresses made of coir and hair
His long needle made them square,
And before he bought his trusted Pfaff,
He had to keep a larger staff.

W13 EASTLAKE SOFABED AFT 4MPFCYou take for granted what you see,
But behind the saddle, the sofa, the seat,
Is a person who understands upholstery,
Who has a flair for passementerie!

W05H MPFC 2

Tassels thrill him with delight,
and not the ones that twirl in the night,
An unusual man I’ve got as my mate
Because he talks of gimp when on a date!

Real upholsterers still spit tacks
And use hide glue to mend frame’s cracks
He knows that biscuits make tufted backs,
His best friend’s are puppies and cats!

Upholstery conservators are a dying breed
The old skills falling out of fashion
But when you’ve sent new sofas to the dump
And you’ve paid a yen for the uncomfortable lump,
The foam’s collapsed, and left a lump,
And your family’s in a frump.
His trade will again be a needed deed,
And he’ll come racing on his white steed
Or you’ll be stuck in your cheap contraption.

For those of you who dare think twice
Who doubt his worth
Who’ll send them into dearth
It’s your buns who’ll pay the price!

~ by Kate and Mitchell Powell

American Antebellum Sofa

American Antebellum Sofa

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Fu Dogs Treatment


Our client brought his small carved wooden guardian dogs to us for treatment.

Pairs of Chinese guardian lion statues are decorative, symbolic elements at the entrances to structures in many Asian countries.  Each is different, and should come in. pairs,
one sitting on each side of an entrance.  Simplistically, the male leans his paw
upon a ball representing power or supremacy over the worldly manifestations, while
the female often has her paw on a cub representing nurture.  They are yang to yin.

The term “Fu” may be a transliteration to 佛, pinyin: fó or 福, pinyin: fú, which means Buddha or prosperity.  In Asia they are seldom referred to as “dogs”, but are considered Lion statues, as lions are protectors of Dharma, or the sacred teachings. Having owned Chow-chows, and wondering about lions in China, I always assumed they depicted Chows dogs, who are fierce protectors of their families and were used as warrior dogs.

The small statues were quit dirty, having never been cleaned to his knowledge.
Kate began cleaning all the tiny crevices with cotton swabs.  Dust, followed by embedded grime probably from normal household environments, was loosened and removed.

We then coated the wooden statues with a blend of warmed waxes and resins.

Between each coat they were allowed to thoroughly dry under warm lights.

Each statues lovely carvings and personality brightened.
The original finish was enhanced and protected, not refinished.

©MPF Conservation
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Modern Textile Art is Often Not Created for Conservation


One of the biggest challenges in conservation is when the artists were not thinking about their pieces being loved and collected, and eventually, cleaned and conserved,
and work in mediums that are experimental (as in the case of early acrylics).
Most artists are simply creating, and so in our studio and in modern art museums around the world,  conservators are working on pieces that are fragile to treatment.

This is especially true of textile art, which is often exhibited unprotected from the elements — And part of the beauty is leaving it uncovered so that one can get close and see
and even feel (with clean hands) the lovely texture of the piece.

W14 2 10 ELLISFAM AFTER 66

Revisiting our conservation of Ken Ellis’ the Shore Family.
When I saw the images emailed to me they were interesting;
when I saw them in person I was bowled over.
Ellis hand painted his canvases, then embroidered and embellished…
Details in expression were simply lovely, like the eyes on the man above.
Painted canvas and embroidery created subtle expressions and nuances.

I am a huge believer in having artwork where you can love it daily…
BUT do it in an area that is the safest!
My advice is to think about where you put your textile…
away from the kitchen steams and greases, away from wood smoke,
and out of direct light is a good idea, but not always practical.

Our treatment was to clean as best we could a combination of wood smoke,
airborne grease, and steam without damaging the textile.
The Shore family was next to the kitchen for many years,
being loved over meals and coffee and daily activity.
Unfortunately, the addition of grease and steam changed
our ability to completely clean the piece;
we tested each area prior to cleaning to see if the painted dyes moved in that area,
and were able to effect quite a lot of removal of embedded dirt.

On the backside, we trimmed the straggling greasy stuffing prior to cleaning,
making it easier, but also removing grease that
when wetted might seep back into the front of the textile.

Finally, we performed minor thread repairs… the easiest and least important part
of the treatment plan as the stitching was in excellent condition.

 ©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use ONLY,
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Steelcase Redeaux


Throwback Thursday, my all time favorite showcover
on a vintage Steelcase Executive Chair.
Internals conserved properly.
Showcover total fun!

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To the Dogs!

They raise Labrador Retrievers;
they want nice furniture;
slips are the answer!

These slips are made of strong sanded cotton twill
with gingham accents peeking out,
and a touch of feminine hiding in the back!
All easily removed and sent out to be cleaned!

Don’t let the puppies get the bows!

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Repairing Frank Crowe Mason Monterey Dresser

The repairs on the final piece of the lovely bedroom set is completed.
MPF Conservation  does not repair/conserve historic pieces unless necessary.

In this case, the veneered top was shredded and lifting.

Mitchell gently removed the historic veneered top.
We did not touch the substrate, though it was quite wobbly.  Many of the pieces show the structural substrate through the original veneer, and we leave them as is!

Sorry that our image of the mahogany veneer unfinished did not come out.
Old wood base paint was mixed, and the first layer was placed on sealed veneer.

The color was not quite correct; Most of this furniture is not a one-coat process.
Mason Monterey is layered with several coats to achieve the proper finish.

A second coat to deepen the color, then a third coat to create the presentation we wanted.
Secret sauce.
We did not dust the Old Wood, as it would not have matched the historic finish as it is today unless we dusted the original historic Old Wood finish too.

Also, the other pieces being sold with this one were not restored.
They were wiped with a damp rag.

The slight wobble of the structure can be seen through the veneer,
just as it did in the historic veneered top.
Also, you can see how much this set changes color in varying lights.

Finished and ready to be sold with the accompanying pieces which were not repaired!
We are selling this large bedroom set in two lots: this is the second,
and is sold with the large mirror and second twin bed, above.

First Set below!

Frank Crowe was the most influential person
in dam building throughout the West:
Hoover Dam, Parker Dam 155 miles (249 km) downstream from Hoover; Copper Basin and
Gene Wash Dams on the Colorado Aqueduct system;
and Shasta Dam in Northern California.
We are offering many pieces from his ranch in Northern California.  Signed provenance statement included.
To know more, see details, and see other pieces,
go here.
  Contact us if you are a serious buyer.

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Purple Paulin Chairs

Two Pierre Paulin Chairs needed full conservation: Innards were failing,
and the show cover was in poor condition.  The painted finish was not original (previously repainted).  The finish was badly gouged, and was missing altogether in places.

We conserved the innards, and restored the piece to its original beauty.
Our client wanted us to finish the wooden elements simply,
instead of restoring the painted finish we used our house traditional blonde shellac.

The lovely purple color looked beautiful in her new home!

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