MPF Conservation are objects conservators specializing in antique furniture restoration, furniture repair, antique upholstered furniture, traditional woodworking, textiles and interior architectural elements for both private and institutional clientele from their studio in Portland Oregon.
Toward that end, we provide a wide variety of services toward the overall care and preservation of your objects:
- Condition Surveys (below)
- Condition Assessments (below)
- Documentation (below)
- Collection Care (listed under Services)
- Interior, Period and Exhibit Design (listed under Services)
We do not do appraisals, but can provide authentication: see our article on Authentication versus Appraisal, listed under Services.
Mitchell is a member of the AIC (American Institute of Conservation) and the Preservation Artisans Guild.
A condition survey is a broad scope assessment of an entire collection or a large number of items. This is performed for both institutions and private collectors, and can take a few hours or a few days. A survey of this scope usually results in broad treatment recommendations, including prioritizing what needs to be treated first.
In large institutions, a curator or in-house conservator often performs their own surveys toward treatment. However, often the additional opinion of a conservator within the specialty of the items needing conservation is of value. A specialist often knows more about the signs of deterioration, and sometimes monies can be saved by treating like pieces together. The next step, a Condition Assessment, will be taken when the curator/owner decides which items are to be treated.
Right, MPFC performing a condition assessment with Mary Merryman (not seen), curator, at Oregon Caves NM.
Surveys must be done on-site, usually on forms with checklists and little commentary. They may cover some or all of the following:
- Numeric evaluation (on a scale of 1-5) of importance in terms of treatment necessity
- List of general overall structure, finish and/or upholstery problems, with regards to condition issues
- Pest infestation
- Materials listings
- 1-2 Images
If conservation of an object is not possible in a timely manner, interim prevention or conservation measures are recommended to stave off deterioration, where applicable:
- Noting problematic maintenance procedures and possible systematic changes needed, toward preventing further unnecessary deterioration
- Proposals for detailed examinations of particular objects may be suggested, to be done while still on-site, or at a later date.
Note: Accurate estimates for treatment cannot be prepared without a Condition Assessment, described below.
A Condition Assessment usually includes a Conditions Report and a Proposed Treatment Plan or Proposal, and is dedicated to one object at a time. Assessments can be done on site or the objects can be brought to the studio.
MPFC will thoroughly examine each piece with an eye to the work needed and an evaluation of problematic areas. Many digital images are taken to cover all areas of the assessment. In a non-invasive manner, the original design intention (function and design details) and integrity of the object are evaluated to the best of our ability without excavation (disassembly). The goals of the client are discussed.
Sometimes we will write a Treatment Proposal offering our intended treatment processes in written form of discuss the object with our client, and often this is accompanied by a detailed estimate.
The Conditions Report and Proposed Treatment Report are often illuminating for the recipients. All aspects of the piece are reviewed and reported with a fresh eye, even if thorough documentation on the piece exists from another source. Even in competent and well-staffed facilities, often new information is gleaned, or mistakes in older documentation or even faulty tagging are found and reported to the curator / owner. The following are reviewed, as applicable, and the condition is evaluated and described:
- frame condition;
- veneer condition;
- passementerie (trims);
- other applied decoration or utility mechanisms, such as locks;
- materials used;
- internals (if possible);
- and any other unusual anomalies or parts.
Additionally, we may note problematic maintenance procedures and possible systematic changes needed, toward preventing unnecessary deterioration, if applicable.
If this assessment is performed for a competitive bidding situation, then all images and the conditions report are turned over to the institution, and we would wait for bidding instructions before offering our Treatment Proposal along with other bidders.
Documentation typically includes all or some of the following, depending upon budgetary considerations, and client or project needs.
- “Proposed Treatment” Report (what we intend to do)
- Photographs, usually digital images, of before and after treatment and possibly process images
- Treatment Report (often requested after treatment, what we actually did)
For those who own valuable antiquities, a treatment report is essential for resale or estate valuation.
We also create various educational documents, most often used for websites, for viewing in an exhibit, or for funding. Examples of these are Informal Updates, which many use to augment their newsletters, and slide shows.
Sample documents, above: Image report, left, and treatment report, right.
The Treatment Report is generated while the item is being treated. It is a compilation of procedural notes and photographs, turned into a report on the treatment process. These are critical for future conservation efforts, in order that another conservator understands what materials and methods were utilized in the current treatment. The report also becomes part of the provenance of an item, and should be kept with the item for future generations, as discoveries about a piece will be included in a Treatment Report.
Conservation Documentation can be detailed or general, from a few pages to a hundred pages for a large institution or collection. Contact us for examples.
To learn more about our Services:
- Condition Surveys
- Condition Assessment
- Collection Care
- Interior, Period and Exhibit Design
In our drop down menu top, we show an offering of Upholstered Objects, Wooden Objects and Textiles, as well as a description of various Traditional Finishes.
Right, Mitchell in from of the Imperial Collection at Crater Lake NP’s Superintendent’s Residence; below, upholstered and wooden objects from the McLoughlin House NPS.
Note: Our studio is not open for drop-in business.
Please make appointments by contacting us.