Principles of Furniture Restoration

Principles of Furniture Restoration
(according to Francesca)


1) In order to improve a thing, you must lose some.

When working on a very old, very valuable piece it is easy to get frozen in a fear of losing any small part of that piece. Because this wood has been useful for longer than you've been alive. But according to Francesca, this is the first principle. In order to preserve a thing, you must change it. In order to improve it, you will have to let go of something. It might even be a something that you love.

2) Listen to the piece.

Francesca thinks the pieces are people, and in a way they are. Or at least the last synecdoche of someone. They're all pieces that were built by hands that are dead. She once pointed to an armoir that had been a particular headache and said; "The person who makes this. They really, they really don't like me." But even if the piece doesn't like you, you must learn to work with it. Not to argue with its tendency towards anything but a right angle. Not to combat with it's owners who want to remove the excellent original irregular glass plates and replace them with wood. If you listen, the piece will tell you how it wants to continue its life. What fabric, what repairs, what finishes.

3) Let the history stand.

More often than not you will remove every nail and every staple before you begin reassembling. But sometimes you are restoring something that has either never been restored or hasn't been for a very long time. And sometimes you will come across an old kind of nail or tack that doesn't even exist anymore. And when this happens you will remove most of the tacks, but not all of them. And when you come across an antique brand mark, you will not sand it. You will clean it very well, and then you will sand around it. You will ignore your Aristotelian ideals, because to take away evidence of a piece's story is undignified and antithetical to the work of a restorer.

4) Germans make bad materials and Polish men make bad furniture restorers.

Francesca holds these truths to be self evident.

This is all well and good, but none of it gives the answer to where I should live. So for now I'm coming back to the Bay Area where I pray I will find either all open doors or all closed. I don't care which one, as long as it isn't a mixed bag.

So if you're the praying type, pray against the mixed bag for me.

If you're the Bay Area type, I'll see you post November 23rd.