I come from an educational and professional background in museum collections, but whether treating a sentimental object or a historically significant piece of cultural property, I strictly adhere to the American Institute of Conservation's Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. The conservation of objects is a point where science and art truly intersect, and I treat that relationship with expertise and respect, no matter what the size of the project.
The first goal with any project is to stabilize the object, and to identify and arrest any active deterioration of its materials. That part of a treatment is usually called its “conservation.”
The next step is to assess the cosmetic condition of the object, and decide how closely we'd like to bring its appearance back to that originally intended by its maker. That part of a treamtent is called “restoration,” and because it usually requires adding some new material, it's an area where we always have choices to make.
The most important quality of any treatment is that it remain as fully reversible as possible, and that the original material of the object remains intact and undamaged. If future generations ever want to return an object to its original condition, a restoration should be easily removable.
I'm often able to present different treatment options for a project, depending on the expectations and budget of a client. I tend toward a conservative philosophy about restoration, believing that less is usually better. Usually, a respect for the natural aging of the original object should be coupled with the sparing addition of new material. Often, I can produce virtually invisible repairs and restorations, but my first priority is always to avoid harming or changing any original material.
Frequently, someone has something conserved or repaired to restore some of its financial value. But seemingly just as often, the value of something lies in its owner's memories. Of all the things that have passed through my studio in the last several years, many of my favorites have been those with the greatest sentimental value for their owners. Every object has a story. I am drawn to my work not just because I love materials science, but also because I love stories. Objects are often all we have left of a time, or a place, or a person; and they can tie us to our personal pasts as well as to the pasts of our cultures and societies.
So whether your collection is large and valuable, or you have a small project that involves something that is precious only to you, I promise to treat your treasures with equal respect.
Excellent restoration work often seems quiet and magical – in the end, it should look like I wasn't there at all. But the truth is that it's a careful, methodical blend of planning and expert execution, and communication can be critical to the success of a project. I provide a full estimate and treatment plan before beginning work on a project, and a full treatment report at the conclusion of the project – because understanding what has happened, and why, is important for every object and its owner, as well as its future stewards.