Posts Tagged ‘Vintage Furniture Santa Barbara’

Preserving and Restoring Antique Furniture Coatings

Antique Furniture Restoration Santa Barbara

Coatings accomplish several functions when used in conjunction with wooden objects. First, and probably foremost in terms of the fabricator’s intent, is that coatings alter the appearance of the surface. That is, coatings serve some aesthetic purpose. Second, coatings offer protection to the object’s surface (spills, abrasion, etc.) and structure (relative humidity [RH] shifts and ensuing dimensional-change-caused deterioration). Finally coatings provide scholars, including conservators and historians, information regarding the practices and technologies of the past.

As with other considerations when evaluating historic artifacts of all kinds, these factors must be integrated with the precept that all materials which exist as part of an object contribute to the integrity and uniqueness of that object. Both historic and contemporary fabricators of wooden objects generally consider(ed) coatings, particularly “non decorative,” to be a potentially sacrificial element of the whole. However, for the reasons enumerated above, conservators do not consider any portion of an object to be routinely expendable, including finishes and coatings.

Contrary to the “strip and dip” approach to dealing with coatings so prevalent in many commercial refinishing and restoration shops, conservators and sensible restorers attempt to preserve the coating on the object whenever possible. This is not to suggest that coatings are never altered or replaced in the course of conducting a conservation treatment on an object. In many cases this intrusion must take place, but the ideal is to intercede minimally and to leave the surface as undisturbed as possible while assuring stability for, and preservation of the artifact. Preserving finishes and treating degraded coatings requires a broad base of knowledge and diverse skills, including the knowledge of coating materials and their deterioration, as well as craft skills necessary to manipulate the films, whether in preserving existing films or applying new coatings.

The manifestation of coating deterioration depends entirely on the kind of film forming materials used, additives used to modify that material, and the various environment conditions to which the coating has been subjected. A beginning point in the treating and preserving of coatings is the most specific description of the coating system possible. Coating systems can range from simple single component applications to sophisticated preparations applied in an exacting and complex procedure.

This will be an overview of the field of coatings and their preservation as a whole. Any of the areas of discussion here, coating materials and techniques, coating deterioration, and treatment of degraded coatings, could and have filled volumes. In addition to existing literature, dozens of conservators and other scholars are continuing to prepare articles, monographs and books on the subject of furniture coatings. With that in mind the reader is reminded of the superficial nature of the information presented here (in general), with particular emphasis on the temporal pertinence of the treatment section. The conservation treatment of damaged furniture finishes is a relatively new discipline, and it is likely that much of the framework discussed for such treatments will be superceded by new techniques and approaches in relatively short order.

Coating Materials

The scope of materials used to form finishes on furniture and wooden objects is a broad one encompassing ingredients from several categories. The most general distinction delineating coatings is whether they are transparent (varnishes), opaque (paint or polychromy) or metallic (leaf). Among these are waxes, gums, and oils, plus natural and synthetic resins, all of which can be used as transparent coatings. By the addition of dyes or pigments to transparent materials, paints are formulated. Paints are also formed by the addition of colorants to liquids which are not usually employed as transparent coatings, such as casein or “milk paint.” There are also coatings of applied metal sheet, such as gold and silver leaf, which are adhered to a wood or mineral substrate with protein or resinous binders. Finally, there are film formers which do not fit neatly into any of the aforementioned categories, such as urushiol, or Oriental lacquer, which is a reactive latex with vague similarities to both oils and resins, and which can be used as a transparent or opaque coating. Within the organization of this document urushiol is included with natural resins.

A second broad category of definition for coating materials involves the drying mechanism of the film, which in turn may reveal chemical and physical properties such as solubility, thermoplasticity, rheology, and others. Drying mechanisms are separated into two broad categories; solvent release and polymerization. In solvent release or “spirit varnish” systems the coating film is a residue remaining after the evaporation of the volatile solvent from a solution containing the solvent and the involatile film former. Polymerizing or “reactive varnish” systems harden rather than dry. This is accomplished by the polymerization of the mono or oligomeric constituents of the formulation. In most cases the exact chemical reaction process of the polymerization is relatively unimportant for either the creating craftsman or the conservator/restorer.

In addition to film forming materials, coating formulations frequently contain additional materials to enhance certain properties of the coating. These additives can alter working characteristics of a liquid coating during application, or visual or physical properties of the dried films. Common additives to coating systems are solvents, plasticizers, gloss suppressants, retarders, colorants, and chemical degradation inhibitors.

There are several ways of organizing reviews of materials. Here, the information about the coatings is loosely grouped according to the respective material’s functionality as a coating on wood. It must also be noted that many, if not most formulations of coatings for wooden objects contain components from several of the groupings. Reviews of coating materials by chemical constituency can be found in several of the references listed after the conclusion.

Original article posted on Smithsonian Institute

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10 Tips on Caring for Antique Furniture


Caring for antique furniture is a little different from caring for your regular, more recently made furniture. It has survived many years, and it has a history. That history is not just related to who made it, and when, but also encompasses such factors as who used it and where. The history of usage also affects the condition of a piece, and by now owning that piece, you become a link in that chain. The piece that you own might have been handed down through generations in your family, or maybe you lovingly purchased it. As you look for ways to care for it, know this: applying new finishes or changing how it looks can impact its value, and storing or using it carelessly can impact how long it lasts. Take a look at some tips to help you care for your antique furniture:
  • Avoid placing in direct sunlight. While UV or ultraviolet light can damage any furniture, antique furniture is more prone to it. Sunlight can damage the wood and fabrics, and turn clear finishes to yellow or opaque. Curtains or shades may help in a room that gets too much sun.
  • Avoid placing your antique furniture in front of heating and air conditioning vents. Keep it away from other heat sources such as radiators, fireplaces or stoves to prevent shrinking that can result in loose glued joints, veneers, inlays and marquetry.
  • Avoid too much change in the level of humidity because changes in relative humidity can cause wood to expand and contract. Not only does this affect joints as much as temperature changes, changes in the moisture level can also lead to mold growth and even insect infestation. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier to minimize damage.
  • Avoid storing in hot, dry areas such as an attic. The lack of moisture can damage your antique furniture.
  • Check for insect infestations which can be identified by small holes and fine sawdust under the piece of furniture. Isolate that piece and get professional help to prevent further damage and the risk of infesting other pieces.
  • Dust with a soft, lint free cloth on a regular basis. Use a slightly dampened cloth turning it frequently to prevent scratches. If your furniture has a finish that is deteriorating, consult a professional. Any cleaning or waxing can be detrimental.
  • Avoid using furniture oils or silicone based polishes since that can lead to the deterioration of the finish over time and residue from the oil may attract dust and dirt build up. If your finish is in good condition use a coat of high quality paste wax to maintain a varnished surface and provide protection from moisture and dust. A thin coat once a year or so should be sufficient.
  • Avoid stripping or removing the finish the finish on your antique furniture is as important as the furniture itself. By removing the original finish, you damage the patina and the any signs of wear which indicate a piece’s history. Once that is removed, it is gone for ever taking away from the historicity of your piece.
  • If you need to enhance the appearance of antique furniture or restore the existing finish, it is best to consult a professional restorer. This is not a job for an amateur, as you may end up doing more harm than good. On the other hand proper restoration can actually increase the value of your antique, while enhancing its appearance.
Original article posted on

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How to Care for Antiques and Collectibles

As an antique appraisers we get asked many questions about caring for antiques and collectibles. The proper care is essential to maintain the value of your antiques and collectibles. Once your antiques and collectibles have any condition issues the value declines. In this article we have provided some tips on how to care for popular antiques and collectibles.

Antique and Collectible Furniture:

  • Dust antique furniture frequently. Use a soft cloth to dust and polish antique furniture.
  • Polish antique furniture only once or twice a year. Use a good beeswax based polish.  Apply the polish, leave overnight and then buff.
  • Do not use a spray polish. These polishes contain silicon, which builds up a sticky surface. This will deplete the natural oils in the wood.
  • Keep the temperature and humidity regulated. Too much or too little humidity can damage wood and veneer. Temperature changes especially from one extreme to another will damage wood.  This will occur mainly when transporting antique furniture and other wood pieces from one climate to another.
  • Monitor the amount of sunlight that reaches the furniture. Sunlight has many damaging effects on antique furniture. Here is a short list:
    • Fades the finish and any fabrics
    • Dries out the wood and other materials
    • Deteriorates the integrity of fabrics and other materials
    • Where possible, turn pieces of furniture around occasionally, to even the fading process
  • Keep curtains drawn on sunny days when rooms are not in use.
  • Inspect furnitures periodically for lifting veneer or molding. This will sound hollow if lightly tapped. Also look for loose joints, water damage or woodworm holes.
  • If required to repair damage to antique furniture choose a reputable restoration shop. Good restoration takes time and money – a careless repair won’t last and can hurt the value more than if the piece was not repaired.

Antique Clocks:

  • Keep antique clocks running.
  • Wind carefully, using the correct size key.
  • Be careful when winding antique clocks, spring-driven bracket and mantle clocks need to be held steady when winding. When winding a weight-driven regulator, longcase or grandfather clocks open the door to enable you to see that the weights do not hit the case or pendulum.
  • Do not use Windex or any other ammonia based glass cleaner on the clock face, dial, gilding, painted or gilded glass.

Antique and Collectible Porcelain and Pottery:

  • Hold the item by the main part of the body. Never hold or lift an item by the handle. The handle of an item is the weakest point. Many time there is damage to a handle that can not be seen, holding or lifting the item by the handle can cause further damage or may destroy the item altogether.
  • Do not use abrasive or harsh cleaners.
  • If the porcelain or Pottery item is very dirty, use a soft sponge to gently wipe clean.
  • Do not use any kind of tape on lids or main body of the piece – peeling it off may remove enamel or gilding.
  • Keep antique porcelain and pottery pieces behind glass.

Antique Silver:

  • Wash silver in hot soapy water. Make sure to rinse the silver piece in hot water, dry thoroughly and buff with a soft cloth.
  • Remove tarnish with one of the many commercial products available in the market. Silver polishes are abrasive. Use these polishes to a minimum, they can damage the silver if over used.
  • To preserve the polish on domestic silver. Wrap the silver piece in dry, acid-free tissue paper and store the silver piece in a plastic bag.

Antique and Collectible Jewelry:

  • Apply hairspray and perfume before putting on your jewelry. Allow these substances to dry. Spray and other substances  can stain gold or silver and damage pearls.
  • Do not use jewelry cleaners, these chemical cleaners can damage antique jewelry. Soap, water and toothbrush will clean most antique jewelry. A little toothpaste and a toothbrush is a great way to clean diamonds.
Remember to test any methods of cleaning on an unseen area first. Every antique is different if you have any concerns consult a specialist before cleaning or repairing your antiques. The methods above may not be suitable for all antiques. Original article posted on Antique HQ

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3 Useful Antique Store Finds

When you think of an antique store do you picture a store filled with dusty shelves of broken, old things that remind you that you are glad we have modern conveniences? Or do you picture a store full of useful treasures that are just waiting to be dug out? Many things produced many years ago were of much better quality that you have find today. Here are a few treasures that you can find to start your collection: Antique-Linens

1. Linens and Clothing

This one might be a surprise because generally we think of antique clothing as something thread bare and not worth much. You can often find some modest, yet stylish skirts and dresses. Linens are another great buy at antique stores in Santa Barbara. If you are looking for some you can find beautifully hand sewn linens that were probably used only once or twice and very carefully preserved by the keeper of the home. These can make for very pretty and unique table decor.   Antique-Bowls

2. Kitchen Dishware

Antique dishes can tend to be somewhat thinner than what is on the market today but some larger dishware like pryex and crock style bowls can be mroe durable than their modern day counterparts. Nothing beats an excellent stoneware bowl that will probably last through your lifetime for only $15! You can also look for heirloom glassware to collect like Fostoria Crystal.   Antique-Games

3. Random Things!

Sometimes you can find old games that are fun additions to your overall game collection. Other things you can find include tools to use outside that you just can’t buy anymore, great old canning supplies like jars and strainers, and even fabric to sew with. You just never know what you might come across that can be useful in your daily life! You can almost always find something you can use for less than what you could buy the modern counterpart for at the store. Not to mention it’s a fun experience looking through all the treasures of days gone by! Original article posted on Little House Living

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Antiques: Where Do You Find All This Stuff?

It might seem like a silly question: where do you find all this stuff? But there’s not an antique dealer out there who ever set up at a show or opened a shop that hasn’t had this query from novice shoppers. They wander into a booth mesmerized by the treasures within, and can’t help but wonder how you put together such an impressive collection of items for sale. The answer most dealers will give you? Everywhere. So if you’re thinking you might want to start a part-time antiques business or develop a sideline selling collectibles to supplement your retirement income, be prepared to work hard finding quality merchandise to sell at prices reasonable enough to keep the business going. These are some of the venues where you’ll compete with others to find the goods required to turn a profit and replenish your inventory:

Estate Sales

The estate sales holding the most potential are those run by family members as opposed to estate-liquidation companies. For one thing, these companies know a lot more about the merchandise they’re selling than the average family does. In fact, they tend to price the merchandise higher than most dealers would in a traditional shop. That said, prices do tend to fall as the sale drags on. Although making the effort to stand in line on the first day the sale will ensure that you get first look at that goods, you’ll tend to get better deals on the second and third days.
Check your local newspaper’s estate sale list in the classified advertising section each Thursday and Friday to locate the sales in your town and consult online listings as well. Better yet, if the operators of the estate sales you attend offer notices of upcoming sales, whether through email or snail mail, sign up to receive them. That way, you’ll learn about local sales even before they’re announced in the newspaper or through online ads.

Garage Sales

It’s gotten really hard to find older things at random garage sales anymore, but you may have more luck at neighborhood sales where several households stage garage sales on the same day. To that end, try to get a sense of which neighborhoods in your area are more upscale; that way, you increase your chances of finding nice things you might be able to resell even if they aren’t extremely old.

Flea Markets

Many flea markets these days are actually outlets for new and imported goods, which means that finding antiques can be challenging—but it’s not impossible. One of the best ways to find out about flea markets (not to mention antiques shows, crafts fairs and the like) in your area that sell mainly antiques is to check online event calendars provided by sites like this one along with other antiques publications. Don’t forget to check the calendar when you travel, too, to find out which markets to hit while you’re away.

Live Auctions

General auctions used to hold more potential for resellers than they do now, at least in many areas. But you can still hit a good one every now and then, especially when they’re estate auctions. The trick is to arrive early to inspect the goods you might be interested in bidding on to make sure the pieces are authentic (nothing stings like buying a reproduction at an auction) and in good condition. Take notes of lot numbers, and determine how much you can reasonably pay for a piece and still turn a decent profit. Use your list to make sure you don’t get caught up in the action and pay way more than an item’s worth. Also refrain from bidding on pieces you didn’t get to inspect if they are selling low. This rarely works in your favor since auctioneers tend to embellish items and don’t always describe flaws accurately. To locate auctions in your area, check your local newspaper or consult a service like You’ll not only learn where upcoming auctions are taking place, but you can sign up to bid online there as well.

Thirft Stores

Some people have great luck shopping at thrift stores for antiques and collectibles. Those who swear by them say to find out the day of the week they stock new merchandise and hit them then. It may also pay off to establish a rapport with the employees at your local thrift stores. Be extra friendly when you drop in, and make sure they have some idea of the types of pieces you’re looking to find. Then, leave your card with them so they can call you in the event items that might interest you are stocked.

Online Auctions

In many instances now online auctions provide a wholesale marketplace for more average antiques, and the rarities are snapped up by eager collectors who will pay top dollar. But sometimes you’ll find a great sleeper if you shop diligently. In fact, in her book Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, author Maureen Stanton writes of one seller she knows who makes a living finding undervalued and misidentified wares on and then turning around and selling them in the same venue. You can even search on eBay using misspelled words to find things other buyers won’t tend to notice. Be aware, however, that this is a time-consuming proposition and you really need to be well-versed in the genres of antiques you’re “working” to make any money. But if you have the background, time and inclination, you can indeed score some great finds this way. Original article posted on About Home

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