Antiques are a big part of the culture down here in south Louisiana, especially at bed and breakfasts like The Cajun Village Cottages. Mpfconservation has great antique restoration tips and information!
Damage to traditional shellac varnishes — original varnishes made from shellac, and possibly with additional resins such as dammar, etc. — is often preventable. We see several common and preventable mistakes owners make over and over again. Before stripping, call a conservator, who may be able to repair or polish the damaged areas, saving the value of the antique!
Inappropriate cleansers and polishers would be the number one cause of damage to traditional varnishes. Don’t assume a natural product is good for your finish. When in doubt use a damp cloth to clean, or Q-tips to remove dirt in edges and trims. No oils, no Pledge, no waxing every month.
The most common damage is ammonia-based mirror cleaning products sprayed directly onto a mirror, and inadvertently landing on the wood surface surrounding the mirror. The damage done is extreme, shown above: large patches of craquelure or “crackle” so large as…
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