Skill, Determination, and Gold Leaf

Sometimes there is no substitute for a little genuine old-world craftsmanship! When our customers, Marjory & Carl Wunsch,  found two valances in their attic,  Marjory and Interior Designer, Karin Weller suggested that re-using these valances would make for a great finish in restoring their home to its original period luster.

The house was built in 1874 and had the original moldings in many parts of the house, which the previous owner hadn’t touched.  The moldings found in the attic were the original pair of curtain valances that had been in the Living Room but had been removed and stored during a much earlier remodel.  Unfortunately, one end of each of the two valances was missing.  After searching high and low, we had no luck finding these pieces.

Karin knew that our renowned woodworking artisan, Peter Ivanovic, could replicate the missing valance pieces.  She’s a historical buff and didn’t want to make new moldings.  Restoring the original moldings was the only option for her, to which Marjory agreed.

The original moldings had been in the attic for years.  After cleaning, it was apparent that this antique woodworking was even more spectacular than we originally thought.  The molding was gel coated with gold leaf and more than a hundred years old!

Everyone was very enthusiastic about the prospect of restoring this valance.  But not only were two ends missing, but the pieces had been damaged from the long years in storage.  But Peter was up for the challenge!

The pieces were cleaned as best as possible and sent to Peter at Bortell/Stroud’s woodworking shop.  As with the existing old pieces, we used Mahogany to make the new pieces to the exact same profile as the originals on our shaper.  After the new end pieces were made, Peter prepped them for the final processes.

In order to recreate this old world craftsmanship, the first step is the gel coat.  If the gel coat isn’t applied perfectly, when the pieces are put together, the line between new and old becomes noticeable.  Our goal is always to blend the new and old, and to never be able to tell which is which.  Peter took his time, carefully applying and smoothing the gel coat.  Then the new surfaces were prepped for the application of the gold leafing.  The trick is to antique the whole piece, both old and new, to make them match perfectly and eliminate any evidence of restoration.  This is a time consuming process and requires steady hands and lots of care.  Peter’s years of experience and vast knowledge of these processes were needed to create the new pieces, as well as restore the old valance.

In the end, everyone was staring at the restored pieces, and no one could tell which ends were restored, no one could tell where the repairs occurred, and no one tell that it had been stored in the attic for all those years.  And now the Living Room looks great with it’s original elegance restored!

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