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. 

     

     

    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.