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.


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.