Please provide us with the following information when submitting an inquiry, and someone from the Trefler’s team will help you determine the next steps.

Please describe your item(s) in as much detail as possible. Information such as dimensions, what materials the item is made of (i.e. wood, plaster, porcelain), and your item’s current condition are all very helpful for our experts to make an accurate estimate.

We suggest providing at least three .jpg images per item. These should include; one image of the entire object, and detailed views of the area(s) of damage and/or pieces. 

If you are submitting an inquiry for painting restoration, please provide an additional photograph of the back of the canvas.

Our team will review all inquiries and assess the best course of action to suit your needs.

We look forward to hearing from you.


    2961Decorative screens: a different kind of screen time

    The word screen has no doubt been usurped in the digital age. Its original meaning however, is the subject of this week’s blog. 

    Throughout history, folding screens have served both decorative and functional purposes. Multi-paneled partitions were once commonplace in domestic environments. They provided shelter from the elements, protection  from chilly drafts and protection from sunlight or heat.

    The earliest examples of folding screens are attributed to the Han dynasty in ancient China. Dating as early as the 4th century BC, folding screens were born out of the need to create separation in the one-room dwellings of the period. The earliest examples crafted from wood, were decorated with scenes depicting nature. Mythical allegories were later applied, creating free-standing artworks that served as backdrops for everyday life. 

    One of the most celebrated examples of decorative screens are Chinese Coromandel Screens which were made using various lacquer techniques.  Some screens had up to 30 layers of lacquer to create stunning, richly ornate scenes. After being popularized in Asia, the decorative folding screen was adopted in Europe at the arrival of the 17th Century. The folding screen served both functional and decorative purposes and became a common element in home decor. The decorative folding screen garnered the attention of notable style icons like Coco Chanel, who, at one point, had over 32 in her possession. 

    Today, decorative folding screens might not be the answer to heating and cooling needs, but partitions still can serve ato divide space. The resurgence of one room living, whether it be in smaller, studio style apartments, or larger open-plan living and dining areas common to contemporary homes, the partition can create an enclave. Amidst a pandemic that has forced us to retreat into our homes, one room living is not always ideal, particularly when Zoom meetings necessitate privacy and a more professional backdrop than say the pile of laundry you need to attend to. 

    At Trefler’s studio, the rise in popularity of decorative screens over the last year has been undeniable. Client’s seeking out a practical way to carve out a “private space” within their home for taking FaceTime and Zoom calls, have found a solution in decorative screens. Restoration work has been underway treating antique and vintage canvas, lacquer and paper screens. Some of the more ornate iterations include beautiful inlay of mother of pearl, and some with  stones in three dimensional relief. These freestanding works of art have brought a much welcomed change of scenery to the homes of many of our clients at a time when a bare wall just simply doesn’t work. 

    Interested in restoring a decorative folding screen in your possession? Our specialists can treat, refinish and stabilize decorative screens to make them fully functional and beautiful once again. Submit an inquiry today. 



    2873Pondering pigments

    An introduction to the fascinating world of pigments

    The restoration and conservation work undertaken at Trefler’s studio requires a unique array of tools and materials to tackle the varied objects that come to us.  While each department tends to lean more heavily on its own specialized tools, there is one incredibly versatile material that all of Trefler’s artists rely on daily. This material is the pigment. 

    From decorative arts, to painting, to works on paper and furniture; pigments allow our experts to do a myriad of things. Our artists are able to camouflage breaks and cracks in porcelain, in-paint missing portions of paintings and even craft the perfect custom finish on furniture refinishing using pigments.  No matter what needs fixing, pigments are key to almost every project. 

    Laura Sheehan-McDonald, Trefler’s Vice President and  expert in color matching and decorative painting, explains that she relies on this invaluable asset daily at her work bench. For the last fifty years, the vast pigment collection at Trefler’s has evolved and today continues to grow to include some of the more common hues and some very rare and difficult to come by. 

    Pigments are invaluable, but what actually are they?

    A pigment is essentially a dry solute which is dissolved in water to create a substance like paint, stain, or dye. Dyes are often comprised of organic compounds like dried herbs or vegetable coloring, (think of Turmeric), whereas pigments are often created by dissolving inorganic compounds like minerals into water or another liquid carrier.

    What are some examples of pigments? 

    Throughout history, pigments have been developed from a wide variety of sources, some more creative than others. Royal Blue for example, was once the product of lapis lazuli, and vermilion, widely used in paintings by old masters such as Titian, was derived from a mercury compound. While many pigments were the product of experimentation of more commonplace minerals and inorganic compounds, others came from a variety of creative, and often quite unusual sources. 

    One particular shade of yellow, known as Indian yellow, was made from the urine of cows exclusively fed a diet of mangoes. The production of this particular pigment was later deemed animal cruelty, and subsequently banned in Europe.

    Because of people’s curiosity and attraction to creating art and objects with vibrant color, pigments have enjoyed use across almost every trade imaginable. The arts, fashion, consumer goods, technology, engineering, and even industrial food production have been directly shaped by development and application of pigments. 

    2927Backwards and forwards: a brief history of the rocking chair

    What do Pablo Picasso, John F Kennedy and Mark Twain have in common?

    This isn’t a riddle, or the beginning of a joke. What is the commonality between these three prominent and yet very different public figures? It was a shared affinity for the rocking chair.

    To John F Kennedy, the rocking chair was a prescriptive suggestion from his doctor, to aid in chronic back pain. In fact, during his presidency, he would come to outfit the White House with 14 rocking chairs in total. Below: A photograph taken on Oct. 6, 1961. President John F. Kennedy, left, sits in his rocker in the White House in Washington, as he talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko about the Berlin situation. His rocker of choice was a cushioned shaker style rocking chair. 

    The photographs below depict Picasso’s similar affection for his European version of the rocker. The portrait entitled, “Jacqueline sitting in a Rocking Chair” from 1954 is one of many an homage to his beloved chair.  

    The reclining and leisurely nature of the rocking chair can be seen as indicative of Twain’s larger perspective of life. He once told The New York Time’s “no sir, not a day’s work in all my life. What I have done I have done, because it has been play. If it has been work I shouldn’t have done it.” 

    Whatever the reason, whether to achieve physical comfort, fuel creative pursuits, or to provide a worthy seat for leisurely activities, each individual made sure that this particular type of chair had an open seat available to them wherever it was that they called home.  

    An American Invention

    So who can lay claim to the invention of the rocking chair? The rocking chair has its roots in Europe. The earliest examples of rocking rails have been found in ancient Roman ruins, employed in cradles to sooth young infants. Other examples were found in Germany and England, likely later brought to America by early settlers like the Shakers, Quakers and Amish. 

    The first record of an American rocker can be found in a bill of sale dating from 1742, from a cabinet maker in colonial Philadelphia. Sold for just six shillings, or what would be the equivalent of 40 dollars in present day, it was described as “one Nurse chair with rockers.” 

    Later, in the 19th Century, this novelty of adding rocking rails to chairs saw an uptick in popularity wider than in use in merely “nursing” chairs for new mothers. It would soon become a popular furniture type for the infirm and even recreational pursuits. 

    On a visit to America during the 1830s, Harriet Martineau, an English writer remarked on the rising popularity of the rocking chair. “How this lazy and ungraceful indulgence ever became general, I cannot imagine, but the nation seems wedded to it.” Growing in popularity over the duration of the the 19th Century, the rocking chair was realized in various aesthetic styles, ranging from the shaker style, ladder back rocker, to the soon to be ubiquitous “Boston Rocker,” which featured a curved seat, high back and rails. 

    And while it was primarily a fixture of American culture during this period, European furniture manufacturers also began to take note of the growing trend. Perhaps one of the most iconic and widely produced versions to date, was Thonet’s Bentwood Rocker featured below (and the preferred style of Picasso). 

    The lightweight, mass-produced rocking chair was a product born from technological advances in bending wood: a technique that would be explored and adopted by other design pioneers later. Through heating wood with water vapor, Thonet achieved his Rocking Chair No. 1. Invented in 1860, this design is still a fixture in museum collections worldwide today, celebrated for its uniquely important place in the annals of design history. 

    And so the rocking chair; an idea born in Europe, reinvented in America and then brought back to the continent from which it came, was to become a mainstay of not only American homes, but homes  worldwide. 

    And although it has found itself elsewhere in the world, it still remains an icon of American sensibilities; a symbol of ingenuity and reinvention; born from a pragmatic desire to move things forward (and backward), albeit perhaps not in the most stylish manner.

    “The American rocker was an inelegant marriage of convenience as far as design was concerned,“ argues Witold Rybczynski, design critic and author of “Now I Sit Me Down” an anthology of the history of chairs. “It would take the great Viennese chair maker Michael Thonet to turn the rocking chair into a work of art.“

    Despite its somewhat aesthetically displeasing original design, it is a furniture type that has remained beloved for its ability to provide comfort and ease to the bodies and spirits of so many, very different sitters. “The American rocker is almost three hundred years old and still going strong,” urges Rybczynski, “everyone loves a rocker.” 


    2908Mending and the Art of Kintsugi

    Most of the treatments executed in Trefler’s decorative arts department are carried out with one particular ambition in mind; to create a flawless repair that will disguise evidence left behind from accidents. 

    Chips, cracks, breaks, nicks; each of these types of damage are meticulously treated and concealed, giving the illusion that a teacup never lost its handle, and a vase never suffered its fateful fall off the fireplace mantel. 

    Broken urns, cracked english porcelain and smashed “World’s best Mom” mugs all emerge from the worktables of the studio intact and structurally sound; often amazing our clients who had no idea their piece could be so beautifully repaired. 

    Bowl, Korea, Joseon period, beginning of 17th century. Courtesy of Freer | Sackler, Smithsonian.

    And while our specialists take immense pride in their ability to virtually erase all signs of damage that an object has suffered, there is another, very different approach to repair that is sometimes requested by our clients; it’s called kintsugi. 

    Kintsugi or kintsukori is a traditional Japanese technique that at its core aims to celebrate, highlight, and derive value in the process of mending broken, decorative art objects. 

    The Japanese characters that make up the word for kintsugi, literally translate to golden, repair or succession, and skill, and the technique essentially does just that. 

    Instead of camouflaging breaks, the art of kintsugi employs the use of precious metals like liquid gold or silver leaf as the binding agent that mends breaks. It also creates a visually stunning result. This approach not only highlights the damage left behind, but it also adds value to an object because of the inherent cost of precious materials that the technique calls for. 

    The art of kinstugi relays an important message; not all scars need to be concealed. With the right approach, skill, and precious materials; mending something that’s suffered damage can yield a result that is infinitely more beautiful, unique and valuable than what was there before. 

    If you are interested in learning more about Trefler’s Decorative Arts Department specialties, visit our services pages by clicking the button below. 



    2861Prepping outdoor entertainment areas for warmer days ahead

    The image above was taking during an on-site to treat a damaged patio set. Precise color-matching recreated the detailed, stippling effect that had been damaged due prolonged exposure to sun and humidity.

    Summer in New England is on its way

    April 20th marked the first day of spring on our calendars, and despite the sometimes late arrival of warmer weather in New England, it is a perfect time to begin prepping your patios, summer homes, porches and back yard lawn furniture to ensure that you are right on time to make the most of your outdoor entertainment spaces this upcoming season. 

    Prepping in advance and learning life’s rhythms 

    One interesting aspect of operations at Trefler’s is learning seasonal rhythms of what possessions visit the studio for some TLC, when. One of our aims is to help educate, and gently remind our client’s, when items should come in for say, a tune-up. Sterling silver will visit for a polish prior to holidays like Passover or Easter. Water claims arrive promptly come December and stay through April. Unsurprisingly, restoring and conserving outdoor furniture and lawn ornaments take their turn in March and April. 

    Bringing an item in for conservation in early spring ensures that it will be in beautiful, and functional condition to be enjoyed as soon as possible. And there is no doubt, this year in particular, our outdoor home entertainment areas will provide a most welcomed escape from our now very over-used livings rooms and dens. 

    Below is a little extra guidance on how to best store items to prevent damage, and explanations for the type of restoration projects we tackle most often for our clients’ outdoor furniture.  

    Basement winter storage and avoiding damage 

    Winter weather takes a heavy toll on outdoor furniture and lawn ornaments. And even if your Adirondack chairs or bird feeders were stashed in the basement throughout the colder seasons, a wet winter can mean that despite your best intentions, stored items like upholstered cushions or wooden furniture might emerge damaged, or in the least giving off that very particularly unpleasant, musty smell. 

    “This was a pretty rough winter weather-wise,” Kody Kirkland, Trefler’s claims specialist remarks, “especially with the snow melt, things will get moist in basements. If your sub-pump can’t keep up, this can damage wood and metal leading to rot, rust, or mold to upholstered cushions.” 

    Kody’s advice, “try storing things off the floor if possible. Things like metal shelving or wood blocks are great for keeping furniture elevated and off basement floors, where they are prone to water damage.”

    Water and moisture aren’t the only issue in basement storage. Dust and critters also pose problems. Kody suggests, “you can try wrapping things in plastic so they are protected from dust, accidents, moisture, and also bugs and spiders. Your items will come out requiring less cleaning time this way as well.” 

    The types of conserves Trefler’s undertakes most often with outdoor furniture 

    What is a conserve? A conserve is the process of treating damage to restore an item to its former condition, and also importantly to prevent the process of damage to continue further. 

    Bleaching and UV-damage to finishes 

    The conservation process for wooden furniture often includes a light sanding, and adding color to even out the finish in cases of sun or UV-damage. Picture if your furniture has tan-lines from sitting in the sun facing one direction for an entire season. Because of the sun’s powerful effect, it is extremely common for furniture that is stationery to have a fade of color on the side exposed directly to the sun.

    Is there a way to prevent bleaching to outdoor furniture? SPF anyone? 

    “There’s nothing you can really do to prevent bleaching, but you can definitely get things conserved so that it brings back the color and is a little healthier in the long run.”  Come September, you could opt for a conserve prior to storing summer furniture for the winter season.

    An annual conserve will ensure that your outdoor furniture, particularly wooden furniture, is healthy and hydrated prior to being tucked away in storage for the winter.  Kody also advises that, “oiling and waxing can help. By using a colored wax, you can even out color fade where there’s been bleaching from sun damage. This is most commonly done if you’re going to try to cover up sun damage, strip and refinish or conserve.”  

    Rust Remediation: stopping a chemical process in its tracks 

    If you live by the ocean, you are likely well acquainted with the negative effect that salty air and humidity have on anything that lives outside and is made of metal. The process of rusting is a nasty and quick moving one; so if you spot rust on metal outdoor furniture, it is extremely important to do a conserve to prevent this process from continuing onward. A conserve in this context involves removing as much of the rust spot as possible and applying a rust converter to affected areas.

    What is a rust converter? Essentially, it is a liquid that you paint on that chemically puts a layer over the rust so that the chemical reaction of rusting is prevented. In chemistry terms, it converts iron oxides into a protective chemical barrier, so that the process of rusting is stopped in its tracks. 

    Musty upholstery

    While outdoor grade fabrics boast the qualities of being “water-resistant” they still inevitably fall victim to moisture damage during winter storage. Upholstery tucked away in basements during wet winters inevitably emerges musty. If the damp has really taken effect, irreversible staining can render once attractive cushions soiled and yellowed. Our advice? Try storing cushions wrapped in plastic or in airtight containers. You’ll be more likely to have fresher smelling, and undoubtedly cleaner cushions, when it’s time to use them. Too late? Trefler’s works with a trade only upholsterer in the event that it’s time to replace or re-cover badly stained cushions or pillows. 

    Interested in learning more about how to safely store and conserve your outdoor furniture for the summer season? Reach out to a member of our team today to get started and prep for warmer days to come! 



    2804Showcasing artworks on canvas with float frames

    First off, what is a float frame?

    Float frames owe their name to the illusion they create of “floating” a canvas artwork. This simple trick of the eye is no feat of complex engineering, but rather simply, is made possible because the underlying structure of a canvas artwork lends itself to the framing technique. Unlike works on paper, canvases have an internal frame, and are created by stretching a material such as cotton, linen or another fabric of choice across a wooden frame of stretchers. These stretchers are what give canvas paintings both depth and rigidity.

    Because the canvas is secured to stretchers using staples, nails or tacks, the interest in concealing the sides of canvas through traditional frames was common practice throughout history. Until only the latter half of the 20th Century, artworks on canvas were considered incomplete, or unfinished without being placed in a traditional frame to conceal such elements of construction. 

    Chambord Float Gold 3” by Larson Juhl.

    The images above show how the silhouette of a float frame lacks a rabbet, meaning there is no portion of the moulding that will block the front side of an artwork on canvas. This particular design is inspired by its namesake chateau in France’s Loire Valley and features hand waxed raw oak highlighted with gilded details ideal for achieving an elegant museum look.

    How do float frames differ from traditional frames?

    Image courtesy of AD

    The image above features a double float framed artwork by Andy Warhol, an interesting method of creating a larger backdrop for smaller artworks.

    Float frames differ from traditional frames in the way that an artwork on canvas is mounted to the frame. Instead of having a rabbet, an internal cavity of the frame designed to hold the artwork, a float frame does not make contact with a canvas’s sides or front. Instead, it is the back of the canvas that is mounted to the frame directly, often employing clips to secure it.

    This mounting is concealed and thus gives the appearance that the canvas is weightless: floating in air. Because of this, the frame acts merely as a border, and leaves the entire front facade of a canvas unobstructed and creates a narrow gap between the canvas’s edge and the frame.

    The float frame has several benefits which make it a worthy contender to a traditional frame. Because it requires less structural support than a traditional frame, it is lighter and can be easier to transport, install and hang. As it doesn’t have a rabbet, it also does not require plexi or glass, which make the textural details and matte surface of some paintings more easily visible to the eye.

    This being said, it is extremely important to consider that without the protective barrier of plexi and glass, the artwork is more susceptible to potential damage from its environment including UV-exposure, smoke exposure and accidents. However, other measures can be taken to protect artworks on canvas such as paintings, including conservation varnish to prevent pigment discoloration.

    Float frames do provide another type of protection to canvas artworks by preventing warping of the canvas’s underlying structure or stretchers. Regardless of how thin a float frame may appear, it will serve the purpose of keeping a canvas in its original shape, an important factor in preventing the canvas itself from puckering or requiring re-stretching in time.

    Other considerations for float frames are that they can be a more economical approach to framing because they don’t require glass or plexi, are lighter and are thus less costly to ship or transport.

    Gordon Onslow Ford, Untitled, circa 1945. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

    When did float frames come into the picture?

    It was not until the late 1940’s that painters began employing float frames in showcasing their artworks. A notable example includes the work of abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, who utilized float frames to display their paintings in their entirety, without obscuring the corners or edges of canvases.

    Since, float frames have been employed popularly in gallery settings, where the main focus was placed on the artwork, and also perhaps preferred for the economical traits and ease of transport.

    Jackson Pollock, Summertime: Number 9A, 1948. Courtesy of the Pollock -Krasner Foundation, Inc. 

    The float frame featured above in the presentation of this painting by Jackson Pollock exemplifies how the lightness of the float frame technique makes possible framing even unusually large artworks on canvas. 

    Not only contemporary in style

    A common misconception about float frames is that they are only used to create minimalist, or contemporary aesthetics. In actuality, a float frame merely describes the method of joining the frame to an artwork and bears no consequence on needing to be a minimal or almost invisible in appearance.

    Float frames can be created with molding to convey any interior style or historical reference. And can be at home in modern, as well as transitional, or traditional environments. Detailed, stepped or ornate silhouettes can be used in crafting a float frame, and gilded or faux painted edges can add a level of ornament to please any maximalist sensibility. Moreover, float frames can be constructed from not only hardwoods, but also metal, plexi and fabric wrapped moulding which provide even greater flexibility in partnering the most attractive pairing to an artwork.

    Spencer Float Silver and Brown 2 ⅛” by Larson Juhl.

    This moulding demonstrates that not all float frames are thin, or minimal. This Spencer moulding combines elegant hand-leafing and a rustic woodgrain finish with a contemporary profile shape.

    Designing a framing solution with Trefler’s

    Trefler’s frame studio designs and fabricates custom display presentations for a wide variety of projects and budgets. Our talented team has over forty years of combined experience in fine art framing, and lends an expert perspective to crafting the best solution for each client.

    Both float frames and traditional frames are custom made to order and can employ mouldings from vendors such as Larson Juhl, Roma Moulding, C&J and Picture Woods LLC,.

    Additionally, Trefler’s designs and fabricates entirely bespoke frames from scratch using sustainably sourced hardwoods to craft closed-corner, splined frames for both float or mitered presentations.



    2756Winter weather advice from Trefler’s claims department

    Winter weather advice from Trefler’s claims department

    Welcome to winter in New England! If you’ve lived here long enough, you are no stranger to the joys and perils that New England winter weather brings, and if you’re a seasoned homeowner, you understand the potential perils only tenfold. This week, as we brave another bout of inclement snow and sleet, our Claim’s specialist Kody Kirkland shares advice on how to avoid winter’s most common mishaps, and how to clean up after the worst of them! 

    Soot residue from puff-backs or fire incidents alike may stain any exposed surface material in the vicinity. Fortunately, with thorough treatment, remediation is possible.


    Never heard the term? Puff-backs are the occurrence of smoke and soot being forced back into the home through exhaust systems and chimneys. What causes them? Puff backs are created by improperly functioning furnaces, water boilers and heating systems. Unburned fuel can accumulate causing a buildup of flammable material. When starting up a heating system, this leftover fuel ignites, causing an oil burner backfire, forcing smoke and soot back into the home through venting and chimneys. 

    A good rule of thumb to avoid a puff-back is to keep an eye on potential signs that your heating system may be malfunctioning. Indicators include a sooty boiler room, a loud noise when starting up and shutting off your heating system, as well as oil leaks and drips along connecting piping. Another important prevention method is to schedule regular maintenance and servicing for your home heating system, as well as frequent professional cleaning to remove potential buildup of residue in your chimney. 

    Too late? Fortunately, remediation after a puff-back has occurred is possible, and may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Trefler’s frequently works in tandem with clients’ insurance companies to address damage, provide restoration services, and common types of treatment in these events. Typical treatment includes stain and soot removal as well as Ozone treatment to remove lingering smoke odors. 

    The table featured above suffered a major water loss in the wake of a pipe bursting in this New England home. Trefler’s furniture conservators were able to successfully treat damage by stripping away a water-stained finish, replacing incidents of bubbling veneer and refinishing the table in its entirety in order to bring back the original luster and sheen of the wood. We are proud to see this stunning piece back in its home.

    Freezing Pipes

    Water losses due to frozen pipes are one of the most frequent events that Trefler’s claims team encounter each winter. Massachusetts is no stranger to dramatic dips and peaks in temperature in very short periods of time. This extreme variation is a key player in causing pipes to freeze, melt, and essentially burst; resulting in often quite dramatic flooding within the home.

    How to avoid frozen pipes? Make sure to always set a consistent base temperature to prevent freezing from the outset. Even if warm weather is anticipated, be sure to put measures in place to avoid any opportunity for your home’s pipes to freeze, especially if you plan to leave (for say a warmer climate) for an extended period of time. If flooding from frozen pipes does occur, time is of the essence. Prevent further mold damage by addressing any flooding event as soon as possible. 

    Spring isn’t the end of it…

    Although we are all optimists that spring will come early each year, Kody urges us to keep in mind that spring is also one of the most frequent times we see pipes burst. Spring in New England means anticipating the inevitable temperature dip, even come early April, so do continue monitoring your home’s heating well beyond winter’s end. 

    The before and after images above demonstrate how a finish might appear hazy due to fluctuations in humidity or temperature.

    Dry Air Damage

    Just like our skin suffers during the winter season, organic materials like wood, leather and paper are similarly affected by the humidity of an interior environment, and lack thereof.

    Forced air especially poses problems for items placed near vents and units. Even with the best intentions of conserving energy, if heating is scheduled with fluctuations between day and night, this unstable temperature and humidity will seriously impact wood and leather. 

    Kody suggests taking preventable measure to help abate issues caused from dry winter air. For preserving finished wood furniture, simply applying a wax every 6 months can make a major difference in preserving it. How to tell if wood is in need? “You can kind of tell when the finish will start to become a little hazy or less translucent. Other pieces might start to crack, which is a telltale sign that the wood is becoming brittle”. He suggests using a natural wax, such as beeswax for the job. 

    Another piece of advice that will help both your furniture and your own health is to invest in an inexpensive humidifier for areas of the home prone to extreme dryness (hint: your bathroom and kitchen will tend to have more exposure to moisture). By keeping the humidity consistent, dry, forced air will have a lesser impact on woods.  

    If a piece of wood furniture is oiled rather than coated with a finish, the same rules apply in making sure that wood is cared for and oiled approximately every 6 months to preserve its surface and structure. Cracking is the most extreme result of wood affected by moisture, however warping and shrinking are also a common outcome. 

    A fascinating fact that Kody shared, is that because wood has oils in its natural state, re-applying oil throughout its lifespan keeps it supple and healthy. Even more interesting is that paying attention to the type of wood you’re treating will determine which oils might work best. For example, olive wood is very happy to get some TLC from Olive Oil! 

    That being said, we always encourage everyone do their research and exercise caution when taking on projects at home. Have a question for our restorers? We always welcome the opportunity to advise our clients and community on the best practices for keeping items in tip-top condition. 

    Already Cracked?

    If an item has already suffered damage and shows cracks to its surface, Kody advises that restoration is still possible. Our furniture specialists can do a conserve on the finish which would include light sanding or re-amalgamating the finish in order to soften and spread the finish to even it out in cases of modest cracking or opening of the wood grain.

    This antique carousel horse was severely damaged also due to fire.

    Safety First

    Another culprit for indoor fire damage is portable space heaters. Even when used under careful supervision, space heaters become extremely hot, frequently damaging textiles and delicate materials in close proximity.

    Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see the more dramatic and dangerous results of these types of heating equipment each winter, which include fire loss, either to just a few items, or in more extreme cases to fire loss to an entire property. Always un-plug and properly turn-off space heaters when not in use, the same goes for heating pads or other small electrical items, to boot! 

    A cherished cabinet that underwent extensive restoration after a fire loss.

    Fire: Friend or Foe

    We all love to cozy up to a crackling fire come winter. And candles create an unbeatably relaxing atmosphere during a season of low natural light. However, our claims team tremors at the sight of a tapered candlestick or stack of seasoned firewood. While fire is indeed a sure way to create ambiance at home, it should always be treated with extreme respect and caution. No matter if you’re lighting a candle or a full-blown Hearth. Also, even under the best and safest circumstances, fire will still have an affect on items in close proximity to its flame, from trace amounts of smoke and the heat created. Candle wax staining is a less threatening type of damage from fire, but keep in mind that paintings, artworks, and porcelain will be stained or soiled by too much time spent fireside.

    If you are currently cleaning up from a winter weather accident yourself, or wish to learn more about how our claims team can help in cases of insurance, fire or water losses, please reach out to a member of our team.



    2651Our Artists’ Most Loved Tools


    This Valentine’s Day we are celebrating the unsung heroes of the studio. We are proclaiming our admiration for those that support our work, our trusted and loyal companions, our favorite tools! Read on to learn which tools our conservators hold nearest and dearest.  

    Laura Sheehan-McDonald 

    Vice President and Head Conservator 

    Can’t Live Without: Pigments 

    Above: Laura’s pigment collection

    “I use hundreds of pigments, and I use them everyday. I can imagine and create any color because of them. They can be mixed into any medium and I can color-match anything, on any surface texture or sheen, high gloss or matte: it’s all made possible with the different powdered pigments.”

    Laura has spent over 20 years as a decorative arts conservator at Trefler’s, during which she has developed an exacting eye and wealth of knowledge on the nuances of color. Specializing in decorative and faux painting and specifically color-matching, her pigment collection (which includes hundreds of tubs of powdered pigments) is in a sense like a chemist’s laboratory. 

    In decorative arts restoration, pigments are an essential tool which make creating flawless treatments and camouflaging damage possible. Pigments are often inorganic compounds that can be suspended, or essentially mixed with a carrier or liquid medium to apply color to a surface. Historic examples of pigments include ochre, charcoal and lapis lazuli. Because they are fairly stable and resilient in their powdered form, they have a long shelf life when stored correctly.

    Laura’s extensive collection of pigments is stocked with variety of hues that can recreate any color imaginable. Having inherited the collection from her predecessors at the studio, it’s been built up over decades and includes at least ten variations of gold, over five iterations of silver and a huge variety of the color blue. She explains that some are extremely rare: these are also her most prized hues. “One pigment I can’t find anymore, is an ultra marine blue that has been discontinued from the manufacturer – I have just a little bit left and keep scraping at the bottle to get every last bit of it.”

    Bernard Murphy

    Head furniture conservator and art display consultant  

    Straight to the Heart: Japanese Ryoba Pull Saw  

    Above: Bernard’s Ryoba Pull Saw

    Bernard Murphy is Head Conservator for Trefler’s Furniture Restoration Department. His focus is in structural and cosmetic repairs, as well as designing and fabricating custom furniture, art displays and frames. While he has some fairly impressive tools at the studio to claim as his favorite, the Japanese Ryoba Pull Saw is a testament to his hand skills with wood as a medium. “It cuts flush to any surface and is the best way to get a straight line, even cut by hand.” Bernard’ s love for woodworking started at age seven and continues today.

    The double-edged sword. The Ryoba Pull Saw is one of the most versatile of Japanese saws. It has both small teeth for cutting across wood grain and larger teeth for making rip cuts. It’s a 10-inch blade with nine teeth per inch (or tpi) on its rip side with fifteen on crosscut. It’s a beautiful object with etched characters identifying the blade’s maker.

    Chris Keiffer 

    Senior Furniture Conservator

    Passing on the Love: Antique Drill Press  

    Above: Chris and his Grandfather’s Drill Press

    Chris Keiffer is a Senior furniture conservator and works primarily on structural repairs and finishing furniture and antiques. His most prized tool happens to also be a  very special family heirloom. 

    “I would have to say my favorite tool in this studio is the antique drill press. It used to belong to my grandfather. He kept it in his basement workshop and I was always fascinated by it when I was a kid. It’s pretty amazing how it well it works after all these years. The engineering is fantastic will all the gears and wheels. He took great care of it and I’m excited to have it at my bench now.” 

    Sarah Robison 

    Senior Conservator Decorative Arts and Books 

    A Cherished Gift: Bookbinding Press

    Above: Sarah’s workstation and bookbinding press

    Sarah Robison is Senior Conservator in Trefler’s Decorative Arts & Books Department. Sarah is extremely knowledgeable in conservation of a wide variety of materials including ceramics, glass, porcelain and frames, but one of her favorite specialties is bound materials and books. 

    A very sturdy companion, this iron press is a fixture at Sarah’s work desk at the studio. Sarah explains, “My parents bought this for me after graduating from the bookbinding program at North Bennet Street School in 2004. I remember I was particularly grateful because they’re so heavy and very hard to ship!  For repairs, I would use it for sewing extra pages, folding and pressing.”

    Dina Shaposhnikova  

    custom framing specialist 

    Beloved: Bone Folder

    Above: Dina’s Trusty companions: a Yard Stick and Bone Folder

    Dina’s patience and precise handwork is to thank for the framing projects undertaken at Trefler’s framing department. Dina explains that the bone folder (And a wooden yard stick) are trusted and loyal aids to her daily work. 

    What is a bone folder? A bone folder is this white “pointy thing” which is used in book binding and print making. “We use it all the time for decorative arts. It’s very handy when matting things.” These have the name bone folder, because they’re actually made from mount of whales. As a tool, these were widely prevalent in the 19th century, when whale bone was a more commonplace and popular material.

    Dina explains that her bone folder is integral to the first steps of designing and planning a framing project. “Before getting to the building part, I’m using these lighter tools, which provide very specific measurements for me. As part of planning drafting phase, I need these lighter tools to get to the next step: the building phase. Once I get to this stage, I begin to use a whole range of more intense tools, like vice grips and my drill.” 

    James McKeown

    Lighting and Glass Specialist 

    Constant Companion: Needle-nose Pliers   

    Above: Jim’s Needle-nose pliers

    In addition to helping with logistics, James is skilled at executing the lamp rewiring and electrical projects at the studio, which means needing to keep these close at hand for a variety of uses and jobs. 

    “I would say the tool I couldn’t live without is my needle-nose pliers. I use them every day for my rewiring projects whether it’s to snip a wire to length or adjust a part of a lamp or chandelier. I also end up using them for all kinds of other projects, like for pulling old nails out of a piece of furniture I am working on. So in short, I can’t imagine working on any of my projects without being able to use them.” 

    Ely Mazmanian

    logistics and furniture restorer 

    Better Together: a Hand Plane

    Above: A well loved hand plane

    Ely is the newest addition to Trefler’s team and assists with logistics in addition to tackling more hands on projects in the furniture restoration department. While his camera is one of his most beloved sidekicks (he is responsible for the image above) the hand plane is his other beloved tool.

    “The hand plane seems kind of outdated in the modern workshop but I love the precision and control the plane offers when removing fine amounts of material from the surface of a piece. The finish a plane can produce is glassy smooth to the touch and dead flat if your technique is on point, plus nothing beats the sound of a sharp plane going through wood.”

    Interested in learning more about our artists? Visit our About page to read more about Trefler’s team.


    2601Taking a closer look at convex glass


    If you’ve never heard the term convex glass until this very moment, not to worry, you aren’t alone. While convex glass was in fact once popularly used within decorative arts, it has since waned in favor.

    Within the last century, as glass manufacturing became a simpler process, convex glass has fallen to the wayside.

    Fortunately, our experts do still encounter this beautiful material at the studio, both in antiques and in contemporary framing projects.

    Okay, so what is convex glass, actually? 

    Above: a sheet of convex glass from our custom framing studio.

    Convex glass is essentially glass that rises up in the center, creating a dome like effect on whatever its encases. Picture a scaled up version of an eyeglass. 

    Other (albeit incorrect) names you might have come across for this material include curved, bubble or domed glass: misnomers for obvious reasons. While these all have a curved surface like convex glass they are in fact produced with a different method and often used for different purposes. 

    Curved glass is rounded at two ends, but does not create a full seal around all edges. This was commonly used for china cabinet doors. 

    While convex glass appears to look quite a lot like a bubble, Bubble glass actually means that the glass was manufactured by a process called drawn glass, which creates “seeds” or elongated bubbles in the glass. Domed glass is another would-be convex glass. 

    Dome glass is typically used for clocks and has a more pronounced or raised center than typical domed glass. 

    When to use it? Then and now…

    Above: an antique barometer with a convex glass face.

    Another antique that commonly used convex glass was in the faces of instruments and clocks. This gilt wood barometer was restored, requiring the replacement of its convex glass panel.

    Although convex glass is antique in its appearance, it is still produced today by select fabricators. Not only is this helpful when replacement glass is needed for an antique, but also in offering an interesting and unique effect when framing even contemporary projects.

    The curvature of the surface creates an interested effect with light and sense of depth. Convex glass is especially useful in framing three-dimensional or raised artworks, where more space is required to protect the work. 

    Above: An antique locket with convex glass protecting a lock of hair and portrait.

    Interested in learning more about the uses and benefits of convex glass?

    Reach out to our custom framing studio today to see if it’s right for your project.  


    2568Preserving Memories


    Framing Family Photography for Conservation

    Taking stock of your family photos

    Over the course of 2020, we’ve all embarked on our fair share of home organization projects. Whether you’ve banished anything that doesn’t bring you joy, or simply went excavating into the dark depths of your basement, it’s been a period where we’ve had more time than usual at home to take stock of what’s being stored away. 

    If you’ve recently uncovered a long-forgotten collection of family photos, our paper conservators and framing specialists have some helpful advice on how to preserve your photography and prevent the most common types of damage. 

    Before & After

    Spotting Damage

    Fading, yellowing and creased or torn edges are all too often the result of improperly storing any work on paper. Photography prints in particular contain acid, making them especially prone to damage when stored together in large boxes, or in unsuitable environments. 

    Acid Free is Key

    Because of the acid found in photographic prints, it is extremely important to always use acid free materials when framing our storing in photo albums or books. The acidity in neighboring paper or mat boards will interact with the chemical composition of your print, resulting a yellow hue, often seen in antique photography. 


    Ultraviolet light exposure is also major culprit in damaging photography. The sun’s  UV-rays have the ability dramatically fade prints, even over just a short period of time. Keep in mind, UV damage is not always the result of natural sources. Fluorescent lighting also emits UV light, so it’s important to protect your prints from exposure even in rooms without windows, like attics, basements or offices.

    To achieve the right level of UV protection, consider where your photography will be on view, and how much light exposure it will have over the course of the year. During winter, a window-facing wall may not be a risky location, however come spring, the shifting angle of the sun might mean that your artwork is more exposed than it had been in February. For most projects requiring UV-protection, our conservators suggest Conservation Clear Glass and UV Acrylic Plexiglass from Tru-Vue, which offer 98% protection from UV light. 

    To achieve the highest level of protection available, Optium Museum Plexi is recommended. While this option is the most expensive, it also offers protection from shattering through transit, an important consideration if you intend to ship your photography in the future. 

    Breathing Room

    We’ve all run into the painful moment where we encounter two photos stuck together, and in the desperate attempt to separate these, we destroy both in the process. This heartbreaking, yet very preventable event is because photography prints contain not only acids, but moisture as well. When pressed firmly against another material, including glass or plexiglass, sticking is almost always the result. 

    Our specialists recommend using spacers or matboard when framing to create space between your print and the glass or plexiglass. 

    What is a Spacer?

    Spacers are a nearly undetectable way to achieve breathing room between a print and the glass or plexiglass. Unlike traditional matboards, spacers are concealed within the rabbit of the frame to create more depth without changing the amount of whitespace around a picture. Spacers are made out of a variety of materials to suit any frame, such as plastic, wood or metal. Because they are matched with the background, they create a seamless piece. Still can’t picture it? A more common example of this you might have come across is the shadowbox. 

    The Right Location

    Other environmental factors to consider which might damage your print include humidity in the environment and exposure to extreme heat sources. For this reason, bathrooms and kitchens, which have a big variability in humidity and temperature, are not the safest spot in the home to hang photography. They are also riskier because these rooms are more prone to accidents involving steam, water and smoke. It is a good rule of thumb place any artwork at a safe distance from any heating source generally, including radiators, fireplaces, wood stoves and vents.

    Quality over Quantity

    Take stock of the photos you’re holding onto. Which are the most important? Are there four or five that you would be heartbroken to lose? Rather than storing hundreds of photos improperly in plastic containers or cardboard boxes (as we all too often do) consider selecting the most cherished to frame safely. By doing so, you’ll be able to enjoy your prints everyday, rather than keeping them tucked away, out of sight. 

    It is sadly not an uncommon occurrence to encounter families that have lost sentimental family photos in floods and fire. By framing your most prized photos and placing them somewhere safe from accidents, you are giving them a better chance at being passed down to be enjoyed by future generations.

    To learn more about our full photography restoration services or custom framing, reach out to a member of our team today.