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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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 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 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 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’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.”
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A century ago, Abraham Trefler began small company restoration company in Germany. After emigrating to the United States, Abraham carried onward with his family’s tradition of craftsmanship by launching a modest furniture restoration workshop in Boston, MA.
Under the namesake Trefler & Sons Antique Studio, Abraham Trefler grew his reputation as a leading restorer and later passed down his business to the next generation of the Trefler family. Over the last thirty years, Trefler’s has grown from a 1,200 square foot studio, into the 10,000 square foot, full service furniture restoration, decorative arts restoration and custom framing studio that it is today. Trefler’s now employs over a dozen team members, executing the same level of care and proudly keeping alive Abraham Trefler’s mission of providing the finest restoration services.
On our 100th Birthday, we are excited to make other announcements including our new website, conceived by talented, west coast design studio, Lauren Fulton Design. We’ve had the fortune of restoring thousands of cherished possessions, and our new website now proudly shares some of these projects.
We couldn’t be more excited to bring these stories to you. Click here to visit our project archive and stay tuned for more stories to come.
We are also thrilled to announce Trefler’s new leadership with Paul McCarthy as Chief Operating Officer and Laura Sheehan-McDonald as Vice President and Head Conservator.
This year marks Laura’s 20 year anniversary with Trefler’s. We are so grateful for her. Paul McCarthy has been a part of the Trefler family for over thirty five years.Together, and with the help of all of our invaluable team members, Trefler’s steps forward into the next century.
Thank you to all of our clients, friends, family and team members for their support over the years. We are looking forward to a brighter 2021.