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The Big Fix


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.)

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