Mason Monterey Smokey Maple Floral Bedroom Set

We are breaking up the Mason Monterey Smokey Maple Floral Bedroom Set circa 1932 and selling it by the piece.  Mason Monterey highly decorated and desirable floral pattern had one owner.  The set is in good condition, with little damage as described below.
(We are quite picky.)   All are in excellent condition structurally.  The original finish is lovely, as it should be, distressed but good. MPF Conservation performed slight touchup on knobs, center of the bed back where the owner laid against it.
Monterey name brand and horseshoe are on back.

We are breaking apart the set which means you can fill out your collection
as you need.  IF you are interested or want to make an offer on the entire set
(if still intact) contact Kate dbdcat @ aol.com (remove spaces).

Other pieces as we have them can be found here.

Wall Mounted Mirror

Mirror is in good condition with the original mirror intact.
Original paint, no touchup.  Can ship.

$1450.00 plus shipping.

4-drawer Highboy Dresser

Dresser is in excellent structural condition;
original paint in nearly flawless Smokey Maple.
Knobs are original paint color, one touched up.
Drawer skids are in good condition.
37 x 18-inches.

$1995 plus shipping.

Desk with Drawer

Desk with Drawer Desk is in excellent structural condition,
with original paint in nearly flawless Smokey Maple.
Knobs are original paint color, one touched up.
Drawer skids are in good condition.
37 x 18-inches.

$1350 plus shipping

Twin Bed

Sturdy, all parts original.  Side support needs to be attached and we can do this for you ($50) or you can do it yourself.  Original paint in nearly flawless Smokey Maple.  Some touchup on the inside back where the head rested and one of the flowers on the stile.

$400.00 plus shipping.

We accept cash, check, money order or PayPal;
PayPal is charged an additional 2.9% processing fee
(what they charge us) which is $29 per $1000.
Local delivery negotiated or you can pick it up;
Delivery out of the Portland area to be determined.
Contact us for further information or to place order: dbdcat @ aol.com (remove spaces).

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How to Talk to an Artisan or Contractor

*this teaching moment applies to many types of situations…
nothing here intened to be derogatory — just silly sweeping generalizations and fiction!*

You have a lovely valuable antique (above) worth $5000 that needs work.
Here are several scenarios and what it may get you, especially with people who are not seasoned in the business and know to qualify whether you know what you are asking for:

To an ingénu who does not know to qualify:
*ring*
“Hello, I have a cabinet that needs refinishing.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t refinish furniture.
I recommend you call Joe’s Strip-N-Dip Studio.”

“Thanks”
*now you will be taking your lovely antique to someone who may strip and dip it and ruin the finish, patina, ruin the veneers or permanently alter/ruin the structure*

To Joe’s Strip-N-Dip Studio refinisher:
*ring*
“Hello, I have a cabinet that needs refinishing.”
“Great!”
“How long will it take?  Can I drop it by today?”
“Anytime.  It will take about two weeks.”
“Thanks”
*now you will be taking your lovely antique to someone who will strip-and-dip it
and devalue the historical and monetary value and possibly ruins the veneer or structure… understand not all refinishers are cavalier and many do not dip-and-strip (pan stripping) and many understand the value of an original finish… we know such refinishers, they know when not to touch an antique, and are very good…
and you don’t just drop it off and have it in two weeks.
they are busy because they are GOOD.*

To a seasoned conservator who knows you may not know what you need:
*ring*
“Hello, I have a cabinet that needs refinishing.”
“I’m Mitchell; may I have your name?”
“Joe Bloe.”
“Can I ask you a bit about the piece?”
“Yes.”
*mitchell and j.bloe proceed to have a conversation that talks about the cabinet above and mitchell explains that refinishing will ruin the veneer and is unnecessary
and how a conservator like ourselves might handle the situation and now, we’ll ask you to send us an image to begin the process of working together….*

“Thanks”
*now you will be taking your lovely antique to someone who knows what it needs*

☾☾☾

Think about it.  When you call your doctor you don’t tell them that you need a by-pass.  You tell them you are having chest pains.  You talk about symptoms.

And yet, more often than not, people who call artisans and contractors,
refinishers and conservators will say what their furniture piece needs to have done.
I learned this early on in my time designing for contractors, when a very good cabinetmaker told me that I should draw the elevations and visual details of how I wanted a cabinet to look, and they would provide the working drawings for me if I wanted the best price.  Sometimes architects spend a good amount of time drawing mundane details when in fact the way they tell the cabinetmaker to build the cabinets will double the price and may not even be as well-built as if the cabinetmaker offers their expertise.

So next time, try this:
*ring*
“Hello, my name is Josephine Iwannadothisright.
I have a valuable heirloom veneered French cabinet that has some issues
(tell them as much as you know about the history/type of object).
I found you in Google under conservators (or however you found them).
Do you do this type of work?”
“Hi Josephine.  Mitchell here.  What issues can you see?
What made you think your cabinet needs treatment?”

“Some wood is lifting on the face.  It also looks like it is bleached or has lost color.
This cabinet has been in my family for a long time and I know it is at least 100 years old.”
“Is it possible for you to take an overall image of the cabinet and also a detail of the issues and send it to us so we can see what we are discussing?”
“Yes.” or “No, I’m bad with a camera.”
*either one of these will result in the next level, a first pass via photo
or a on-site assessment.  from there mitchell will be offering an estimate,
making suggestions for the overall health of the cabinet as mitchell will possibly see issues that j.bloe didn’t see (a door hinge is failing), and our new client will decide what choices s/he wants to make, fully understanding the choices they are making.
*

Other tips:

  • The specialist you like working with may be the best resource
    in future for recommendations on other items.  Ask them.
  • Don’t assume that a site of artisans or restorers or even museums has vetted their list;
    ask to see examples and check out their resume; ask questions!
  • Good artisans usually are a bit busy, be prepared to wait or make a
    compelling argument/request as to why you need to come first!
  • When it comes to a valuable antique, will often want to come and
    pick it up / deliver it themselves unless it is quite small.

©MPF Conservation
You may republish on a blog if you link back to this post.

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V&A: Moulding a Marcel Breuer Chair Seat

This is fun!  I want to know how they made the mould!

“Standard flat plywood boards cannot be moulded into curved shapes. To form curved plywood, glue is spread over layers of thin, cross-grained veneers which are placed in a mould. Pressure is then applied to hold the veneers together in the desired shape while the glue sets. Depending on the type of glue used, the mould may need to be heated. Once the glue has set and the cross grained veneers have been joined as a single shape, the material becomes plywood.

This film shows a contemporary version of Marcel Breuer’s Short Chair being made at the Isokon Plus workshop, London. A two part (concave and convex) mould is used to form the chair’s seat. Glued, cross-grained veneers are laid between the two parts which are then held together under pressure in a press. Once the glue has set, the seat is removed from the mould, ready for trimming and finishing.”

More on molded plywood on the V&A site!

 

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A Quirky Conservation Project

 

You just have to see the video!

 

.

 

 

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Planter’s Chair: 2, Excavation, Seat, Continued

We are properly conserving a French-made Planter’s Chair, circa 1860.
(You can begin here, if you like.)
We’ll follow the chair through excavation to the new show-cover.

We left off in the last posting with the seat partially excavated.

Removing the second generation hair topper,
we encounter an original hair topper, properly lashed to the seat deck.
He notes the lashing pattern, then cuts and lifts it.
The seat deck hessian is exposed; after vacuuming we inspect it.

Mitchell wears a mask when he is excavating after encountering molds and
various types of dust and debris which can mess with your lungs!

Lashing patterns noted, and details of the fit.
We loosened the inside arms to inspect the carvings and connections.

Above, an example of what careless upholsterers do to frames, including carvings,
or when the frame maker does not include tacking foundations which allow for tacking without encroaching into decorative elements.  Mitchell will change the frame slightly to include a tacking block to preserve the carving from future mistakes..
We will repair the lovely carving.

There is damage to the connection between the carving and the metal frame on both arms,
also to be repaired.  This may be a wear-and-tear issue, or possible a design issue.
These are the types of issues we discuss with clients as we find them.

The original fiber seat pod comes off, to be cleaned and conserved.
The spring deck is exposed.  Over the years the hessian stretches on both
spring deck and seat deck to conform to the stresses.
Lashing patterns are noted.

Spring deck burlap is removed, and we see the original springs.
We inspect the dirt (we find odd bits sometimes, including coins) and vacuum the debris.

The springs are heavy rolled steel, which we will clean and conserve.
Mitchell notes the tie patterns, but does not cut the ties yet.
He usually does not cut ties until the last moment necessary.
He also counts and notes the tie hole patterns,
as he lifts the tacks holding ties to the frame.

The chair is turned over, and under the dustcover we see two layers of
webbing applied in order to save the springs.
This second layer (top) is the creamy webbing above, not lashed to the springs below.

The first webbing applied over the original in order to save the springs
is the darker herringbone webbing in a criss-cross pattern.
It was also not lashed in any manner to the springs.
As Mitchell removed webbing, he notes holes and tack positions.  They tell the story of the number of times the chair has been upholstered and in what manner.

Mitchell is down to the original webbing, properly woven in a basketweave pattern,
and can say he knows the history of the webbing patterns, which,
along with tacks from upholstering showcovers and hessian,
and after noting and marking the spring tie tack patterns,
gives us clue as to the number and nature of the upholsterings.
He feels secure in that the chair was reupholstered twice in its lifetime beyond the original,
and the person who performed the second upholstering did not retie the springs.

The seat drops out!


Some of Mitchell’s musings about the Planter’s Chair…
The woods… European Beech (frame) was not commonly imported in the states.
Persimmon wood (carving) is native to India, but was grown all over the south,
and even into the colonies, which offers other clues.
The original webbing and subsequent webbings were uncommon to the USA,
but found in England and Europe.
The contraction and patina of the foundational woods (European Beech),
and the excessive rusting of tacks and metal objects were consistent with exposure to very high humidity, such as might be found where there is good rainfall and relatively high temperatures, and possibly salty air.  This information, coupled with what little provenance was available, led Mitchell to surmise the piece may have lived in France (where it began life) but also lived in either the tropics or a city like New York.
The fact that it is a planter’s chair, with carvings reflecting plants that grow in tropical regions (sugarcane or tobacco) makes him lean toward Latin American or the Caribbean.

The seat is fully excavated,
and we move to the inside back, next post!
(I suggest you turn off the music!)

 If you would be interested in notification
of online classes coming next year, comment
and we will save your email address.
It will be used by no one else for any other purpose.

©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

Posted in antiques, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, French Furniture, Interim Report, preservation, process, restoration techniques, upholstery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planter’s Chair: 1, Excavation, Seat

We are properly conserving a French-made Planter’s Chair, circa 1860.
We’ll follow the chair through excavation to the new show-cover.
An overview of the process, from one vantage point, below.

We begin with excavation.
Excavation is the discovery process, and we are always shocked at the thought
that many people give this job to the youngest interns with little oversight.
The more experienced you are the more valuable the information
gleaned during these beginning stages:
where the piece may have lived;
personal predilections of the individuals using the pieces;
the environment in which the piece lived;
tracking of dates when various upholsterings took place,
the regions where various upholsterings took place.
Some of Mitchell’s musings are at the bottom of this post.

We take more images during excavation that any other phase.
There is so much history, both original and secondary upholsterings,
to document while undoing of the piece.
Also, sometimes we want to go back and see
what our eyes did not connect as important in the first stage…

This excavation was performed in two parts,
which we will explain as we get to the breaking point.
This is the excavation of the seat.

Passementerie is the last item to be applied and the first to come off the chair,
which is how it goes down through the layers.  A bit like an archeological excavation.
Conservators are interested in preserving the  history of an object.
To that end, we save samples and items as they are removed, noting their location.
When the project is completed, they are given to the client in part or whole,
and/or we keep interesting samples for ourselves.
You might not know what part of the story an item or mark informs.
This is also when we make our final assessment fo our client,
and may need to tell the client if changes in the estimate are necessary.

Turning the chair over, we find a tag which tells us that this chair was
sold secondhand with this showcover, including who performed the fumigation.
This tells us it was sold before the mid 1970a, when the State of Oregon stopped
the fumigation laws for secondhand upholstered item sales.

What appear to be original ceramic wheels are in good condition.

The showcover is removed from the seat.
Mitchell finds a layer of paper-wrapped cotton (wadding), popular with
European upholsterers in the early 20th century, at the probable time of the
second generation upholstery, suggesting it took place in Europe.
The wadding is no longer obtainable in the states.
He also gets his first glimpse of the bottom of the metal back frame.
Samples of passementerie and fabric are kept.

Already we know that we have a missing decorative scroll to be replicated.

As I photograph the chair, I can see that there is no way to get a symmetrical view,
and Mitchell looks at the frame with new eyes.  The back and two legs are badly twisted.
As we move through other phases you will see how asymmetrical the chair’s become.
It  is quite sturdy, and not in danger of tipping or breaking.
Causation of the twisting in the metal back frame may be due to someone sitting oddly,
favoring their right side (much like I do, even when on the puter!)

We see the first evidence of an earlier fabric, which we soon identify as a green velvet.
Usually we see bits of earlier fabrics; this time only one.

Mitchell begins to remove layers of the seat, documenting as we go.
The first three layers are from the current upholstered showcover, most likely:
two layers of cotton toppers, and a horsehair pad.
We surmise the chair had between one to three showcovers.
Good fabric, proper foundations, and proper care can make a show cover last a long time.

All materials are cleaned and reused unless there are issues of body fluids, etc.

The seat is partially excavated;
we will continue excavating the original materials
in the seat next post!

If you would be interested in notification
of online classes coming next year, comment
and we will save your email address.
It will be used by no one else for any other purpose.

©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

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French Planter’s Chair

We are properly conserving a French-made Planter’s Chair, circa 1860,
belonging to a Portland preservationist.
Hand carved persimmon wood, European Beechwood frame,
original innards, unmolested finish.
We’ll follow the chair in detail through excavation to the new show-cover.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We will begin with excavation, next post!

If you would be interested in notification
of online classes coming next year, comment
and we will save your email address.
It will be used by no one else for any other purpose.

©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.

Posted in antiques, conservation techniques, decorative motifs, French Furniture, process, restoration techniques, upholstery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment