Art Restoration

Any object that has been created by an artist, whether it is made of ceramic, plaster, metal, marble, paper or wood – can be restored using the basic principals that follow. It’s only the products that change; the techniques are similar the process is the same. There are 6 steps that show up in every restoration undertaking.

1. Objective – what is to be accomplished

Is the item of great monetary value or sentimental value, is it more important to preserve and consolidate; is it for use or display?  These are the questions to ask, so a direction can be taken according to the owner of an object or a building.

In most cases the owner requests an item or an object be brought back to a usable condition while maintaining its aesthetic appearance.  The client wishes to have an item be structurally sound and then cosmetically restored so it is appealing to the eye.  Only with rare artifacts or items of great nobility would a conservation approach be taken.  This dissemination of information will be left to the “Conservator.” The information written here is for the restorer.

Therefore it is imperative to have a detailed discussion with the owner to see what their intentions are.  In other words the first phase is to analyze what is to be accomplished. In the business world it is very important to write everything down.  It’s your reputation that is on the line and to proceed with a direction when there is no clarity, can place you and your client on a different page. Ouch!  It’s your reputation!

In regards to objects, either path that is chosen, reversible products need to be used.  It’s a restores nightmare to have to do more damage to an item to re-restore it!

2. Clean

Whatever the surface is, it needs to be cleaned.  If the surface is not cleaned then what goes on top will not stick.  The work will be compromised at some point.  Cleaning is essential in all areas of restoration, even if something is going to be chemically stripped…….Clean, clean, clean!


3. Stabilize

The next step is to make the item sound.  If it is a piece of wood, it may need to be re-glued, missing parts recreated, new blocks for support; if it is a piece of ceramic that is broken it needs to be properly adhered and missing parts recreated and attached; paper may need to have reinforcement where parts have disintegrate or filled to cover wormholes.  Therefore, all in all, the next step is to secure the item so it stays intact.

  • In-fill

This step involves using a filler that is of the same density as the item.  If you are filling wood, then a wood filler or a polyester filled is the best choice, especially when it comes to sanding.  If there are two different densities, then there will be an unevenness to the sanded surface.  If restoring ceramic then a hard filler such as a two part epoxy putty is the best choice, for the same reason. If working on paper, then a soft filler such as a spackling compound is used. Again the steps are all the same, just the products are different.

  • In-Paint

Once everything is secure and sanded then the painting process begins.  It is always best to minimize the repair to just the area that was damaged.  A good artist, with the proper techniques and the proper materials for the job, will be able to paint and blend in an area to match the rest of the surface.

  • Coating

Everything needs to have a protective coating applied to insure its longevity.  The choice of coating is selected based on the sheen or existing surface that is to be matched.  The choice of a coating is many:  high gloss, semi gloss, satin, flat and dead flat.  Is the coating to be a high resistant coating or is it to be a duplicate of a shellac or lacquer finish? Is it to be of exterior quality vs. interior quality? Does it need an epoxy coating? As you see there are many factors to consider.

In conclusion, every object, item, artwork,  or architectural structure falls under these 6 steps.  For detailed instructions along with what products work best for what restoration, then check out the list of trainings.