When a Chinese traditional homes is demolished to make way for the new, elements like antique window screens, carved panels & screens and other architectural elements are typically salvaged to be reborn as decorative items in modern homes. Thinking about adding such a piece of history to your collection? Here’s a quick look at the restoration process from start to finish.
A years of being exposed to rain, dust, smoke (and who knows what else), quite a lot of build up can occur, which must be carefully removed. While there are several methods used in cleaning, initial stages typically use water. Depending on preferences, this process may be repeated several times, often using a small quantity of a gentle cleaner like hand soap or a touch of dish washing liquid.
In Chinese, this process is often referred to as piāo bái (漂白) which means “to lighten,” and details may emerge that were not evident under all the years of dirt.
2. Repairs to carvings
After cleaning, the second step is repairing some (or all depending on preference) damaged sections of the wood carving. Typically this involves scraps of the same or similar wood which are then pegged and glued over the damaged areas (known as bu mutou 补木头). Once pegged and dried, the damaged sections can be carefully re-carved, sanded and detailed to match. Some people may prefer to re-carved/repair every minute detail. Others may choose to repair major damage only. Depending on the shape and structure of the carving other repairs to joinery may be required as well.
After any damaged sections of the antique carving have been repaired, if the screen was painted, then replaced sections will need to be carefully hand painted to match the original color and style.
4. Display in the home!
The final and most rewarding step… Options range from hanging or mounting to stands and even frames.
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