This beautiful commode was made in France and now resides in Shelburne, VT. The ravages of time, central heating and poor repair work had left the piece in need of extensive restoration, (See photo below). After carefully removing many layers of dirt and poor refinishing, it was possible to reveal the true beauty of the original wood. The parquetry drawer fronts and side panels are veneered in Tulipwood and Satinwood, and the case is covered in Brazilian Rosewood. A total of around 50 patches and repairs were applied and blended with the original wood and most of the original parquetry pieces had to be re-laid.
The bronze mounts, known as ormolu in English, were loose and had lost their original luster. As you can see, with a little buffing and polishing they, once again, look quite gorgeous.
It is very important to use original materials when working on antiques. Modern glues and finishes will compromise the value of the piece. The original craftsman would have used hide glue for the construction and shellac for the finish. The process of applying the shellac is known as 'french polishing'. These materials are all reversible, meaning that any work done can be undone at a future date. It is this simple and convenient fact that makes furniture restoration a possibility.
My early training was as a restorer of fine antiques. Back in England I spent many years working with antique dealers and home owners, before moving to the United States to create my own work. If you have a valuable piece in need of some professional work, please give me a call.