They’re tucked away all over the apartment: your grandmother’s cherished majolica tureen, the huge one with the cabbage leaves and mushrooms, ignominiously broken in four pieces in your last move; the Grundig Majestic tabletop radio that won’t even receive static anymore; the Q-Tips box of Mikimoto pearls you’ve sworn for a decade you’d have restrung; the gilt-framed mirror spattered with black blotches; the cerulean cashmere turtleneck that miraculously still fits but has been feeding moths. Then there are those incredible steals you couldn’t resist, knowing they were fixer-uppers: the Alvar Aalto floor lamp you don’t dare plug in without rewiring and that glam recamier with upholstery so pitifully shredded even the cat can’t be bothered.
Whether handed down from the family matriarch or scored at Housing Works Thrift Shop, whether a cunning investment or an impulse buy that won’t be treasured by anyone but you, it still needs fixing, and finding the right person for the job can be daunting in this city of too many choices (too many of them wrong). We’ve taken the first step for you. Following is a select group of master artisans, technicians, and craftspeople who can perform the most astonishing magic on your wreckage: perfectly replicating the leg of a 200-year-old chair for an undetectable replacement, coaxing the grease stains out of a leather couch, rehabilitating a neglected Patek Phillipe watch, regilding a Royal Copenhagen lily, and much, much more than you ever dreamed was possible.
The damage to the marquetry on a diminutive nineteenth-century French end table had to be excised and replaced with new, custom-crafted inset pieces; then the table was cleaned and polished ($450). A golden-retriever puppy gnawed on the cabriole leg of a French gilded chair, also nineteenth-century, resulting in such grave disfigurement that a new leg had to be carved from, well, scratch ($800). Among the two dozen artisans working in the flower district atelier of Joseph Biunno Ltd., most were trained in the traditional guild system; walk among them and you will hear a cacophony of European languages emanating from the meticulously maintained workstations. The affable Biunno, son and grandson of restorers and in the business himself nearly three decades, will tackle mundane damage as well as the “oddball challenges we get from decorators,” including conventional woodworking (cutting, bending, heating, drilling, polishing, and so on), welding, metalwork, and gilding. Biunno also produces an exquisite line of reproduction chairs and distinctive drapery hardware. (129 West 29th Street, second floor; 629-5630 or 629-5636.)
Carlton House Restoration has more than enough work to occupy a staff of eight (four cabinetmakers and four surface decorators and polishers). The specialty of the house, says the owner, Kenneth Dell, is eighteenth- and nineteenth-century pieces; it is not unusual to see one there worth half a million dollars, like the extremely rare leather-topped mahogany pedestal desk attributed to Thomas Chippendale Sr. that Dell resurrected some months back. But Dell takes on all manner of projects. Recently, gouges and lacerations in a small Art Deco table were repaired for $100; a weathered chestnut-brown leather-and-brass barber’s chair from the thirties with a disconnected footrest and some minor dings and damage was restored for $250. Higher up the food chain was a $300,000 George II walnut secretary-bookcase (part of a suite made for the king of Spain). Dell had to reglue loose veneer and crossbanded molding, and ill-fitting sections and an equally ill-fitting drawer had to be wangled into alignment ($1,600). An unexpected bonus: While they were working, the restorers discovered several secret compartments in the desk that Dell guessed hadn’t been opened in over a century (empty, alas). (545 Eighth Avenue, near 37th Street, ninth floor; 239-6635.)
Timothy Riordan is a veteran of Sotheby’s restoration division who has been on his own for the past seventeen years. He prefers repairing Regency and Federal (or earlier) pieces; Victorian items, in the estimation of this extravagantly ingratiating man, “usually cost more to repair than the piece is worth.” He favors repairing and polishing furniture rather than losing the original finish by stripping and refinishing. He’s worked on modest pieces, like a late-eighteenth-century English country oak ladder-back chair, the seat of which was badly broken; a new piece had to be fitted, spliced in, stained, finished, and polished to match the original patina ($300). The considerable work on a set of eight “glamorous but exceedingly damaged” mahogany Regency side chairs (a real find at the William Doyle auction house) included everything from mending wobbly and broken legs to fixing dings and scratches to polishing and reupholstering the seats; average cost, $380 to $425 per chair. Generally, Riordan tries to keep his minimum fee at $150. (50 Webster Avenue, New Rochelle; 212-360-1246 or 914-235-6424.)
“The carcass has to be reframed,” Angelo Montaperto says of a George I sideboard that will cost $4,000 to fix.
A third-generation Florence-born furniture worker, Angelo Montaperto learned his trade by making case goods such as desks and dressers. He will take on simple jobs like regluing and strengthening a chair frame or replacing a turned or carved leg ($300). But his skills are more seriously challenged by a George I sideboard, oak with inlaid mahogany and raised beading around the drawers, whose structure is wildly off-kilter. “The carcass has to be reframed,” Montaperto says. In addition, he has to close gaps, fit drawers, attach moldings, repair broken parts, make a few new pieces, and then clean and polish the entire piece ($4,000). (216 West 18th Street, Room 602; 691-5006.)
Surface Decoration and Gilding
Five generations of Irish artisans in the furniture trades produced the charming and gregarious Dee Keegan, in America only since 1986. She, too, is a veteran of Sotheby’s, where she dreamed of opening a school based on the old-world guild system. Her institute, the Renaissance Trade School, has now been in operation for several years in Hudson, where her workshop is also located – and where she has lots of space. Her specialty is painted surfaces and gilding, and she has worked on everything from castles and vintage cars to Victorian sewing boxes and telescopes.
Keegan recently refitted a broken finial onto a vintage Edwardian chiffonier sideboard (adding an internal armature for stability, filling in the cracks, polishing, and antiquing it) for a mere $75. A small imitation Victorian bamboo stand had a broken section that had to be replaced, matched, and touched up ($150). A bedside Art Deco locker, with a veneer that had previously been stripped, painted, and poorly varnished, had to be restripped, reveneered, and refinished. In addition, the piece needed a handle for a drawer, and splinters in its surface had to be filled in ($400). A major overhaul of a Regency long-case (grandfather-style) clock cost $1,500. Keegan also produces a series of informational videos on antique furniture styles and periods. (At Walker’s Mill Antiques, 549 Warren Street, Hudson, New York; 518-822-0770.)
The Fitzkaplan Studio (Diane Fitzgerald and Eve Kaplan) specializes in painted decorative finishes, lacquer, and gilding, and employs about half a dozen artists, who charge $50 per hour.
The experienced partners work mostly on furniture, mirrors, and objects (like candlesticks), but they will tackle anything; a veritable mountain of furniture and accessories is piled just inside the studio’s entrance. One unusual item plucked from this repository was a wooden Persian wedding mirror – a sort of mirror in a box, behind altarlike doors – the surfaces of which were all radiantly festooned with bright florals. Missing pieces had to be constructed and painted, and gaps sealed ($1,000). A pair of eighteenth-century Venetian throne chairs, also wood, partially gilded, were in woeful condition, their colors mismatched, shedding their gilding in clumps. Restoration for the pair ran about $1,300. A sumptuous cinnabar-lacquer altar table with an over-the-top gilded garnish was cracked down the center; after the structure was repaired, the background was painted and the gold embellishment was hand-applied to match the rest of the field ($1,200). (131 Varick Street, tenth floor; 989-8779.)
A specialist in gilding, the accommodating, Lebanese-born Hicham Ghandour attended F.I.T.’s restoration program and trained in a Florentine furniture workshop; he’s been in business seven years. Although he works mostly for decorators, he rarely turns down work for other patrons. One set of eight mahogany dining chairs (another terrific Doyle purchase) will ultimately be reupholstered, but first, Ghandour is resurfacing them (filling in the grain and open pores with epoxy) and cleaning and polishing the wood ($2,500). Working with a client to find the right gilding technique for the object and for the pocketbook, he does both oil and water gilding, the latter being the more costly and time-consuming. (150 West 28th Street, Suite 1605; 727-0733.)
Ceramics and Objets
“That’s ‘girlie’ majolica,” snorts restorer Amy Kalina, referring to a fanciful and ornate MacKenzie-Childs table base broken in eight pieces ($1,200 to repair). “I do everything from things like this to ivory boxes, ancient Persian bowls, Staffordshire ceramics, art pottery, alabaster paperweights, parian ware, and anything else that could be classified as an objet, from Ming-dynasty to Pottery Barn,” says Kalina, who has degrees in painting and in restoration and has worked as a painter, a graphic artist, an illustrator, and a textile designer.
Her recent triumphs include eight Russian painted, glittered, and lacquered snowmen ($800); a 48-inch-long wooden sailing boat that had a fissured hull ($500); a horn drinking mug with a silver rim and foot with a cleft down the side ($90); and such humble things as a cherished coffee mug with its handle in three sections (reconstructed with internal armatures for $50). In business seven years, Kalina charges reasonable rates, and she’s flexible “in case a client doesn’t want the whole spa day,” she says. The chink on that unpedigreed teacup could cost about $35, while a hairline fracture in a piece of chintzware is about $125. Kalina is currently toiling on magician David Copperfield’s collection of penny-arcade mixed-media memorabilia. (373 Broadway, near White Street, Suite C12; 343-8852.)
“My patron saints are cats and cleaning ladies,” Jareth Holub cracks. His Ceramic Restorations is a tiny, neat nook of a studio; every available surface is occupied. Holub was a painter and sculptor before becoming a restorer eighteen years ago. Half his clients are private customers; the rest are galleries, auction houses, dealers, and arts institutions. He doesn’t work on metal or most glass, but will accept all types of ceramicware, including pottery, porcelain, majolica, terra-cotta, bisque, earthenware, and bone china. Like Kalina, he offers various levels of repair work. Hence, some jobs can take as little as three or four days, others six months, particularly when he must create missing components. Simple regluing starts at $20; creating a new piece for a gorgeous $8,000 Rookwood vase was $225; fabrication of missing fingers (a common problem) on a figurine starts at $40 per finger. (224 West 29th Street, twelfth floor; 564-8669.)
Matthew Hanlon’s airy, bright loft near the Empire State Building overflows with broken stuff. Half his work is for Sotheby’s, and the rest is for the design community and private customers. Awaiting his attention (and that of his three staff) are terra-cotta pots, bronze sculptures, and decorative objects made from a panoply of materials, including tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and marble. The most common repairs here run from a low of $250 to a high of $2,500; he charges $90 an hour.
Building a seamless new wing tip on a Royal Copenhagen bird, requiring casting, carving, and painting, ran about $250. Carving a three-inch-long hand for an Art Deco Chiparus sculpture (drawing from his cache of 150-year-old ivory) ran $2,500. A third-century-B.C. Roman frieze (about four feet by three feet), made of Carrara marble, was broken in eight chunks and stripped of some surface decoration; Hanlon reassembled it and contrived its missing parts from composition marble ($8,000). (24 West 30th Street, eighth floor; 685-4531.)
There is nothing I wouldn’t entrust to Rena and Anatoly Krishtul, who founded Ark Restoration and Design several years after emigrating here from the Ukraine city of L’vov in 1982. Arriving with virtually nothing, Rena pined for all her “beautiful things” from home but couldn’t afford to purchase valuable pieces, so she bought “pretty but broken and cheap stuff” at flea markets and set about fixing it. With Rena’s background in the design and manufacture of glass and porcelain and Anatoly’s degree in engineering, they educated themselves well; their work is meticulous, and they’re always in demand by galleries, dealers, and very wealthy private clients.
Their workshop is pristine, fastidiously organized, and well equipped. Among the more intriguing projects underway were a 1,000-year-old wooden Buddha (termites turned his roly-poly tummy into a cavern); a pair of gushingly ornate eighteen-inch gilded vases with eagles on all sides from the Russian imperial factory, probably made for Alexandra II, missing much of their gilding and a spout; and a stunning Mogul treasure box in the shape of a crane, carved from a single piece of jade, that had a dismembered chain and injuries from a previous, poorly executed repair. Although they also work on unpretentious items and do minor repairs, the Buddha repair ran $8,500; the Russian vases, $1,700; the Moghul treasure box, $1,800; the Ming vase, $2,400. (350 Seventh Avenue, near 29th Street, tenth floor; 244-1028.)
William Manfredi trained in an Italian silver factory, where, he admits, “they melted everything I made for the first three months.” Although he had been a sculptor for ten years and had studied for an M.F.A., Manfredi learned a deeper respect for metal and was humbled by the experience. That was 27 years ago; he’s been repairing metalwork ever since, focusing on silver, gold, bronze, brass, and copper. “I’ll work on anything – from rings to cannons,” he says, figuring that he has repaired 50,000 objects; call Sotheby’s Restoration and ask for a silverworker, and you’ll get Manfredi’s name.
For a late-nineteenth-century American silver kettle stand that is missing a limb, he is re-creating and appending the section ($150). An eighteenth-century French wick cutter also needs a new piece fabricated, as well as a cleaning and polishing ($150). A cruet stand requires a tricky soldering job (between $200 and $300). (46 Great Jones Street; 260-5591.)
Bob Routh presides over the precious objects at Thome Silversmiths, a respected name in silver repair since 1931. Routh has been doing this for more than 40 years, and his workshop will undertake anything from classic soldering tasks to major restoration on flatware, hollowware, trays, and sculpture; in between are polishing and plating assignments (not only on precious metals like gold and silver but also on more base materials like brass and copper) and removing dents and blemishes (which can start at $45 to $50). Repairing a handle or hinge can start at $50 to $60. (49 West 37th Street, Suite 605; 764-5426.)
Glass and Mirrors
For nearly 30 years, Augustine “Gus” Jochec of Glass Restorations has been tackling minor chips in glasses ($20 and up); stress fractures ($25 and up); and the orphaned stems and bowls of wineglasses and the like ($30 and up). With a combination of liquid penetrants, vibrations, and tempering, he can even coax stoppers from carafes ($30 and up). He will undertake time-consuming jobs – like making new parts for delicate Steuben or Baccarat animals (many a fish, bird, or bunny finds its way into his shop, minus a fin, wing, or ear) reconstruction of which starts at $80. A large Venetian-glass Tiffany lamp, broken in seven pieces, needed restructuring; then he had to shorten and reassemble it ($400). A modern Polish art-glass vase with a fault line from the neck to the shoulder was cut down below the shoulder, creating a novel and pleasing shape and height, for $45. (1597 York Avenue, at 84th Street; 517-3287.)
Anton Laub Glass repairs and installs everything from storefronts and shower stalls to graceful Victorian jewel boxes and glass-mosaic-covered objets. The company can also strip and resilver both old and modern antiqued mirrors, at a cost of about $27 a square foot. Unlike cracks in ceramic artifacts, however, those in mirrors cannot be repaired or filled in. On the other hand, very small chips along an edge can be resurfaced.
Laub’s shop is one of a handful of places that can replace the very thin mirror (one thirty-second of an inch thick) inside a compact (a four-inch-diameter sterling-silver antique English compact mirror was $25 to replace). The company can copy designs on vintage – etched or sandblasted – mirrors, and can even gold- and silver-leaf the backs of mirrors. Laub also repairs leaded or stained glass (both in the shop and on site), with a $75 minimum on site, and is dexterous in repairing and restoring Venetian mirrors, which are heavily hand-beveled, V-grooved, and etched (from $100 up to thousands). Recently, Laub resurfaced a Deco table, mirrored on both the legs and the top ($160). Replacement pieces for a beveled mirror on a fifties commode ran $160. (1873 Second Avenue, at 96th Street; 734-4270.)
“The kinds of clocks I work on, people have to be crazy to keep,” observes clock repairer Sid Shapiro. “They’re not museum pieces and they’re probably not even great timekeepers, but they have sentimental or decorative value, and people love them.” An aerospace engineer by training, the self-taught Shapiro has been repairing clocks for nearly 25 years and specializes in antiques dating “from the invention of the pendulum in 1656 to early-twentieth-century clocks.” There is only one modern clock – the classic, Swiss-made perpetual-motion Le Coultre Atmos – that he is willing to repair. Why this exception? “It doesn’t get wound, it doesn’t have batteries; it just gets its energy from the air, from the temperature – a miracle of engineering.”
A “dead” antique German wall clock, worth less than $1,000, “wasn’t worth repairing,” he felt, but the owner insisted, and for $500 it was brought back to life. A Dutch musical long-case clock, which plays twelve tunes and is worth probably $25,000, cost about $2,500 to repair. Simple jobs start at about $150; house calls are $100. (914-359-4229 or 212-925-1994.)
British-born John Metcalfe calls himself – and his shop – the Antiquarian Horologist. He learned clock and watch repair at technical college in London. “After your initial schooling,” he explains, “you have to branch out into one or the other, and I always knew I was a clock.” He started collecting timepieces at age 10 and admits that they “were my obsession.” He’s been toiling on their mechanisms for nearly 30 years. He will work on any mechanical (not battery-operated) clock, although he doesn’t much like the cuckoo variety: “They’re not repairer-friendly, and they’re so mind-bendingly annoying that they try the legendary patience of a clock repairer.” He usually charges $95 for a house call in Manhattan, and all repairs are charged at a flat rate. For a striking clock, his starting fee ranges from $225 to $250. Complicated clocks will be more; long-case clocks are generally $600 and up. (1 Beekman Street, Room 507; 587-3715.)
(See also “Jewelry,” below, for Murrey’s.)
“We can do everything in rush or cane for anyone, from the Metropolitan Museum to Mrs. Smith in Forest Hills,” Yorkville Caning owner David Feuer promises. This truly resplendent work can be very pricey when executed with natural rush (river grasses commonly called cattails) or with the natural cane of the rattan plant; both are worked by hand by Yorkville’s masters, some of whom have been with the company 30 or 40 years. A fifteen-inch-square chair seat in natural rush or cane starts at $150; a more extensive job – a 1912 chaise, totally hand-caned, for example – cost $1,200. Work on single chairs is common here; 10 percent of the company’s business is work on chairs people have picked up at yard sales.
But there are also less expensive alternatives. For rush, the less-costly paper derivative fiber rush is an option (and it takes one fifth the time it takes to work with natural cattails); for cane, there is prewoven, machine-made cane, which comes in huge sheets on a roll that is simply cut to shape and routed into a furrow around the seat (Yorkville stocks a huge selection of this material). The same fifteen-inch-square chair seat in the paper rush would run $65 and up; in the machine cane, just $40. The minimum job is $95. The shop will also do regluing, plugs, dowels, and other work. (31-04 60th Street, Woodside, Queens; 212-432-6464, 718-274-6464, or 201-569-2821.)
Although you’ll have to cross the Manhattan moat to get there, Patsy Orlofsky, the director of the Textile Conservation Workshop, encourages clients to visit the two-story aerie in South Salem that is home to the 21-year-old studio. The new, state-of-the-art suction table – a huge porous structure that literally draws the stains out of everything from a small sampler to a large wall hanging – is worth the trip.
Twelve accomplished artist-scholars pamper and coddle fragile materials of all manner: archaeological and ethnographic textiles and tapestries; laces and screens; needlework samplers; domestic textiles like quilts and coverlets; clothing, vintage ball gowns, christening dresses, and costumes; flags, banners, and political memorabilia; ecclesiastical textiles and Judaica. They will view anything on-site at no cost and give a verbal estimate and advice. Likewise, Orlofsky says, the staff is extremely generous on the telephone with clients and will give instructions to the fearless who want to try, for example, to launder a vintage tablecloth themselves.
The staff makes house calls, ganging up a few for a day’s trip into the city, to amortize the $60-per-hour location fee. (The regular fee for work is $50 per hour.) All items receive a proposed-treatment report ($75) and before and after photographs for documentation.
They receive between 300 and 400 items a year to work on, many by mail. An elementary job, like washing and preparing a christening gown for storage (with acid-free materials) might run $150; washing a quilt, perhaps $300; cleaning and reframing a sampler, $200 to $400. On the other hand, there are tapestries requiring exhaustive repairs that can remain on the premises for a year or more ($25,000 to $45,000). (3 Main Street, South Salem, New York; 914-763-5805.)
“We will work on anything that has quality of provenance or design,” says Gina Bianco, a textile and costume conservator. “And if it is important within a family’s history, and they cherish it, we might take on something like a beautiful christening gown.” Bianco has been working with textiles for seventeen years, and her workroom will expertly and lovingly tackle textile conservation and cleaning, upholstery-fabric conservation, textile mounting, and specialty design and construction of art textiles, whether a pre-Columbian Nazca poncho, a set of Duncan Phyfe bed dressing, or a contemporary Duane Hanson. She will fashion special textiles into custom-made pillows, “built like a suit,” she proudly declares. And indeed, they are perfectly fitted and constructed. (924-1685.)
A hole in one of your favorite cashmeres got your goat? French American Reweaving can repair any moth hole, cigarette burn, tear, rip, or wayward seam. Owner Ron Moore can also wave his magic wand to mend, patch, or remodel torn pockets, worn crotches, slashes, and the like. The minimum job is $45. (119 West 57th Street, Suite 1406; 765-4670.)
“Termites turned a 1,000 year-ol wooden Buddha’s roly-poly tummy into a cavern.”
Carpet Cleaning and Repairing
Perhaps only half a dozen cleaners maintain their own rug-cleaning plants anymore. This type of operation requires an enormous amount of space; rugs pass through elaborate sets of rollers or brushes, caressed by warm water and detergent, and then are hoisted into an enormous drying room, where the moisture is removed and where they sort of saunter unhurriedly along a conveyor belt. When dry, they are checked, wrapped, and rolled up for delivery. You would be wise to send your rugs to one of the companies that owns and operates its own plant (as the two mentioned below do). Both, by the way, do wall-to-wall broadloom and can also do area rugs in your home.
In business in the Bronx nearly 80 years, Majestic Rug Cleaning can usually guarantee a turnaround of about a week. The fee scale has three tiers: The least costly is for remnants and other types of bound carpets; the second category is for things like braided and Rya rugs and machine-made Orientals; and the third is for handmade carpets such as fine Orientals, kilims, and needlepoint and Navajo carpets. A six-by-nine-foot handmade rug would cost $75 for cleaning; a nine-by-twelve, $130 (including pickup and delivery). Majestic rebinds carpet edges by machine, charging $1.25 per linear foot; hand-binding and -overcasting are generally $10 per foot. Refringing with cotton is $12 per yard. Repairing areas that are spoiled and “decayed” (heavy plants can cause tremendous water, mildew, and rot deterioration on carpets) starts at $25. Majestic can usually find a carpet piece in the right colors, weight, and texture to patch into a worn area, which must be excised first. (644 Whittier Street, Bronx; 718-542-7474 or 212-922-0909.)
Long Island Carpet Cleaners is a family-owned fourth-generation operation that cleans and repairs everything from the finest Orientals to hooked rugs to synthetic broadloom. Average prices (pickup and delivery included) for cleaning a rug sans backing (like an Oriental, Persian, or kilim) are $254.25 for a twelve-by-fifteen, $151 for a nine-by-twelve, $113.50 for a six-by-nine, and $65.25 for a four-by-six. Those with a backing, like a linen-lined Chinese carpet, will cost more (as the rug cannot go through the heavy machinery and must be done by hand): A nine-by-twelve is $177.50. Silk rugs run $5 per square foot. The company can remove badly stained areas and insert replacement sections (all types of discards are kept on hand for precisely this purpose), stitch tears or open seams, realign the fibers of pulled loops, bind edges, replace old fringe, and so on. The minimum repair fees for rugs not being cleaned are $30 (under six-by-nine) and $50 (larger than six-by-nine). (301 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-383-7000.)
Although the carpet-cleaning businesses above also do on-site furniture-cleaning, carpets are their specialty. Conversely, the businesses listed below also clean carpets, although upholstery is their main line of work. Just about all upholstered goods can be cleaned on site in your home.
Yet another family-operated shop, Fabra-Cleen is owned by Brian Kornet, who describes his business as “textile maintenance cleaning.” It undertakes all things textile, from sofas, chairs, and benches, to draperies, window shades, and blinds, even the metal or vinyl variety. Fabra-Cleen has even gone on-site to clean a mammoth, soot-covered 150-year-old silk tapestry in a church. Cleaning upholstered furniture starts at $16.50 per foot (measure across the back of the sofa); a club-style chair is about $50 to $60; a dining-room chair ranges from about $20 to $30, depending on whether it has an upholstered back. Loose pillows are about $6 each. (111 Albany Avenue, Freeport; 212-777-4040, 718-776-3564, or 516-377-0993.)
Leather Furniture and Objects
Italian-born Dino Carlino bought the Robert Falotico business a few years ago and continues the leather restoration for which the company is known among decorators and antiques dealers. Whether the leather is on a desktop, a wastebasket, a screen, a card table, or a small object, Carlino can repair and revitalize it. Although he prices his time at about $75 per hour, he will do small jobs that may require slightly less time.
Two brown woven-leather country-style dining chairs required new leather straps and reconditioning of the existing, unmarred ones ($175 each). To replace the leather on a desktop, one of his most common repairs, Carlino excavates (from the edges) all the old, shabby leather, repairs and cleans the surface as needed, then reapplies new leather, which runs about $75 per square foot, including the gold tooling around the border. Additional gold-tooling ornamentation runs $10 per foot. If the top is clean and the customer supplies the leather, then it is $55 per square foot for his labor. He also reconditions leather sofas and club chairs, work that can run several hundred dollars depending on the condition of the item. Repairs of small items, like a cache box, cost about $25 to $30. (315 East 91st Street; 369-1217.)
For large leather furniture, Precision Leather Crafters is an ideal resource. It can work in diverse skins and will recondition and refinish sofas, chairs, and oversize or odd items, including trunks and barber chairs. Reupholstery of a full-size leather sofa starts at $2,400; reconditioning of a three-seater starts at $600, of a club chair, at $250. A client recently had a chocolate-brown trunk from John Philip Sousa’s band that required refurbishing, refinishing, relining with canvas, and replacement of all the leather handles and grips ($850), but lesser jobs (like repairing and reconditioning the leather on a humidor-style cigar case) might be $45. (73-34 Bell Boulevard, Bayside; 718-465-3661 or 800-547-6808.)
Lamps and Appliances
At AABCO A/C, TV, and Vacuum Repairs, there isn’t much that the deft repairpeople don’t fix, but you’ll want to remember them for their ability to rewire lamps, recondition and restore old sewing machines, and even resuscitate vacuum cleaners. They can handle floor and table lamps with bases constructed from wood, brass, steel, glass, iron, and ceramic. Simple rewiring starts at $29.95; halogen repairs start at $39.99. (1594 York Avenue, at 84th Street; 585-2431 or 585-2463.)
Although the repair department at Gracious Home fixes everything from small electrics like irons and coffee-makers to vacuum cleaners and humidifiers, one thing it gets plenty of calls for is lamp rewiring. Replacing a socket on a basic three-way lamp starts at $10; rewiring the whole thing (socket, switch, and plug) starts at $25. Replacements on an old-fashioned standing floor lamp with three separate bulbs start at $50. Gracious Home will convert a European lamp into a domestic-current lamp, starting at $5. It also takes halogen lamps, with repairs starting at $30 and dimmer replacement starting at $50. (1220 Third Avenue, at 70th Street, 517-6300; 1992 Broadway, at 67th Street, 231-7800.)
Vintage and valuable – or just cherished and not-so-valuable – watches, precious and costume jewelry, precious-metal objects, and clocks of all sorts can generally be repaired at Murrey’s Jewelers. Owner Earl Kahn boasts, “We try to make it like the day it was born,” and with nine jewelers and watchmakers on staff, Murrey’s truly can tackle all types of projects. Jewelry repairs range from the routine (like a simple soldering job starting at $8.50) to the dramatic, like redesigning and transforming a dated piece into a fresh bauble. One woman recently presented Kahn with an unstrung strand of 7-mm. pearls, along with an eighties tennis bracelet; Kahn designed a knockout three-strand pearl bracelet with diamond stations and a diamond clasp for $1,500. A male customer, in possession of an antique Roman coin, wanted a ring, but he insisted that both sides of the coin be visible. No problem: the ring shank sports a gizmo that allows the coin to swivel ($1,000). Murrey’s will resize diamond eternity rings ($150 and up) and can adapt rings for arthritic fingers with swollen joints, using an expandable shank mechanism that opens at the knuckle and closes at the base of the finger ($275 and up). (1395 Third Avenue, at 79th Street; 879-3690.)
Carmen Riascos proudly tells her fairy-tale story: coming to the United States in 1976 from her native Panama not speaking a word of English, and landing a job as a messenger for a jewelry store. Drawn to the beaded gewgaws and trinkets in the shop, she studied the jewelry, bought beads, and taught herself the art of stringing. By 1980, she was copying famous makers’ wares and working for a tony Madison Avenue shop. Shortly thereafter, she went out on her own, and today she does the complex and intricate bead- and pearl-stringing for firms like Verdura and Fred Leighton. She charges $25 a length (“length” usually means a choker length, about sixteen inches). Pearl-weaving for chokers starts at about $35, depending on the complications. (42 West 48th Street, Suite 501; 398-3566.)
The plastic on the old Philco radio still gleams, and the case is a masterpiece of design, but the guts inside gave up the ghost a long time ago. Fear not. At Waves, owners Charlotte and Bruce Mager can get you back in tune. Originally collectors of old radios, they wound up with too much stuff and started to sell off their wares. Along the way, Bruce had to learn how to expertly repair these tube models and wind-up phonographs; he maintains an immense stock of old capacitors and resistors and observes, “We can fix anything from Atwater Kent to Zenith.” They charge $15 to look at an item and prepare an estimate; most repairs start at about $65. The most common brands they see are Philco, Fada, Emerson, Grundig, Telefunken, and RCA. (Chelsea Antiques Building, 110 West 25th Street, Suite 1005; 989-9284.)
Whenever you see oddball but stunning pieces of silver, vintage umbrellas, beat-up carving sets, ladies’ embroidery scissors, or anything else with an exquisite handle but a beyond-repair body, think of Mort Klein. The former special-effects magician for TV commercials uses his alchemy nowadays to metamorphose unusual and unusable handles into original magnifying glasses, makeup brushes, lorgnettes, letter openers, and anything else that requires a grip. Klein’s stock-in-trade is repairing walking sticks, but he also relishes making these novelty items, marrying the old with the new, with sterling silver or gold. Prices range from $35 to $150. (860-5631 or 800-fix-stix.)
Whether it’s a graceful vintage lace parasol, a clunky golf bumbershoot, or a magician’s trick umbrella, just about anything it’s missing – spokes, tips, handle – can be found in the workroom of Uncle Sam Umbrella Shop. Long recognized as the purveyors of brollies of every size, shape, color, style, and fabrication, the company also repairs, rewires, and reworks them. New tips are $2; retooling broken ribs is $10 to $35; and recovering an entire frame starts at $50 for regular umbrellas and $150 for beach umbrellas. Uncle Sam can also mount a silver band on a handle so you can have your initials engraved on it. (161 West 57th Street; 582-1976.)