Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finding a Conservator!

In the article a few days back about Finials in a Billionaire's House I mentioned that when anything around here gets broken we immediately send if off to a professional conservator. I've had several inquiries about how to actually find a good conservator. And it's true, these guys are a rare breed and sometimes hard to locate.

In the Yellow Pages in most cities, if you look up Conservator all you'll find is Conservationists, which is a whole different thing. A Conservator is someone who can repair and preserve works of art and other items of cultural interest, even buildings for that matter. Whereas a Conservationist is generally someone caring for the environment or wildlife.

But there are two easy ways to find a good conservator for your broken items:

- First, you can go to the nearest museum in your area and ask them who repairs their stuff.

- And second, any good conservator worth his salt is registered with the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. (AIC) 

So, if you have a damaged oil painting, a valuable-but-moldy book, or a broken vase or figurine, just go to AIC's website. At the top of the page on the right, there's a box that says Find a Conservator. Just click on that and follow instructions about what you need, and your zip code. In no time they'll send you information on their registered members closest to your location.

But some advice here:  if you have a broken vase for example, then you'll need to get out your magnifying glass and tweezers and pick up every tiny fragment and sliver of that vase and put them into small envelopes. Then carefully wrap all the larger pieces one by one, and send the whole miserable mess to your favorite conservator. If that vase is worth a hundred-thousand-dollars, you need to find every broken fragment and sliver!

Art restoration is an interesting and intriguing field. In fact, if I had to do life over I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of this line of work. Not to mention the high pay, because it's going to cost you a small fortune to have that stupid vase repaired!

Thanks for visiting tonight,


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How to Dust a Lampshade!

In the last article about finials in this billionaire's home I mentioned we take the lampshades outside for dusting, and I've had a few email inquiries as to how and why. So I'm happy to share what I know:

- The lampshades here are mostly designed with expensive, pleated materials and feather dusters, even ostrich, don't work that well on fabrics.

- Lint rollers can easily stretch the fabric and don't clean inside the pleats.

- If you attempt to vacuum the shades (even set on low suction) it's very easy to suck in and tear delicate fabrics. And you'll not want to do that.

So what to do?

In butler school we were taught to take lamp shades outside and dust them with a very-fine, soft-bristle paint brush. It's that simple. And you won't believe the clouds of dust and pollen you'll sweep off. It's time consuming, of course, especially when dealing with over a hundred lamps as we are in this house.

But this is extremely important to those of us who suffer from allergies. How long has it been since you gave that lamp shade on your bedside table a good dusting?

Around here we dedicate a whole day to this, a couple of times a year when our employers are away and there's nothing much else to do. We crank up the music and spend all day running in and out, dusting every lampshade in the house. It's not all that difficult, but then we're getting paid for this task, aren't we?

Thanks for dropping in tonight,