Chai Kai – the art of structural repairs

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.

Red or Black Lacquer Gilt Paintings – determining the old from the new on Chinese gold painted furniture.

  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 […]

Traditional chinese houses – from the countryside into the city (with million dollar profits too)

  Very interesting article in the China daily talking about the resale market for Ming and Qing dynasty Chinese traditional homes which are disassembled, transported, repaired and then resold to restaurants, clubs or wealthy collectors.  Now this is an interesting topic which I could easily get lost in as it just touches on so many interesting elements from Hui […]

Faux and distressed finishes: A “start to finish” look at creating a hand-rubbed black lacquer finish.

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 […]