拆开 (Chāi kāi) essentially means to “take apart” and people often don’t realize that when you restore a piece of Chinese antique furniture, usually in addition to carefully cleaning it, it also usually must be taken apart and entirely refitted back together. Since Chinese furniture rarely uses nails, and instead uses a complex system of pegs and joints, the item can be completely disassembled, with the pieces spread out over the workshop floor.
Recently we restored a late Ming dynasty square table from Shanxi province. Beautiful table and I thought it might be interesting to show the images of the cleaning process occurs which primarily involves a careful wet sand. Known in Chinese as 打水磨, its a unavoidable part of any antique restoration. What a nasty mess! Removing about […]
Super quick post regarding a recent discussion I was having about cleaning antiquities, particularly those which would have been buried underground. While there are many highly specialized and scientific ways to authenticate a piece (for example TL testing), there are also some very practical clues one can look out for. For example dirt. When an […]
I was recently looking over a gilded and painted antique Chinese book cabinet (书柜), with a customer in a very expensive Hong Kong antique dealers shop. I casually remarked that the gold paintings have been retouched and in some cases were completely new. (Though the dealer would swear the paintings were original, whether they knew […]
I get several emails each week asking for information on pieces. Questions regarding origin, value, age etc. Unfortunately I can’t answer them all, though I do try to answer as many as I can. Anyway, here is one from the latest batch of emails in the interest that my answers can be shared with others […]
I find the processes used in the workshop fascinating, and though others might enjoy it if I share some of them here. Today we look at the steps taken from start to finish to create one type of finish: a slightly distressed thick black lacquer finish with hand rubbed edges. In this example case, the […]