Restoring Bellows, Statues and Wooden Oddities

MPF Conservation specializes in antique furniture restoration, furniture repair, antique upholstered furniture, and traditional woodworking.  This page documents these unusual objects:

  • Spinning Wheel
  • Two Chinese Statues
  • Circus Ball
  • Biltmore Bellow circa 1910
  • Parker Eagle Coffee Mill (right)

Note: MPFC did not offer before images because they
are so confusing! After, above and below.

Hungarian Flax Spinning Wheel circa 1840

Delightful folklore and historic tradition is associated with this genre of spinning wheel. The wood is likely a fruit wood, though we were unable to identify it.

The intricate turnings which make up this piece allow for carved embellishments and delightful color within the turnings. Several small components had cracked.

For information on the repair, visit the blog post below.

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Wooden Chinese Guard Dogs circa Nineteenth Century

The sentimental palm-sized guard dogs were very dirty, partly because so much of their finish had worn over the years.

MPFC cleaned them thoroughly using cotton swabs to get into the little areas, below left. Then a coat of clear shellac was applied as a barrier, below center, before colored shellacs were added to bring out the character of the carvings, below right and in after images above.

Below, see our blog-post for particulars on the Fu Dogs:

Above, before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Two Chinese Door Guards Nineteenth Century

Hard to believe these lovely statues were once used as door guards! The painted wood Chinese statues standing approximately 10-inches came to us filthy, and a prior reparation had placed one guard’s hand on backwards.

MPFC broke the glue seal on the hand that was backwards, and as they had lost material, added a piece of carved wood (shown left) to make the hand work. This was carved and infilled, shown after, below right.

After testing the finish’s efficacy, the door guards were meticulously cleaned with slightly damp cotton swabs. They cleaned up beautifully.

For a detailed accounting read our blog post, below. Watch the slide show below for many more images!

General Guard’s Treatment

Before treatment, left; during treatment and after treatment right.

American Circus Ball circa 1930

Our client came from a long line of circus performers. (His Aunt is pictured right in a publicity photo.)

Someone in the family was well-meaning but misguided, and had stripped the ball using a chemical stripper. This raised all the grain in a way that was not good, above left. We first smoothed the ball (by hand), which only took us halfway to our goal.

We then used a museum-approved consolidate, which filled under the lifted layers,
and also filled chunks which fell out during the stripping process, acting as both a glue and fill. Several coats of silver base coats of oil paint were applied, shown left, before the star was added to match the image and his recollection (middle and far left above).

For a longer process posting, continue reading below:

Before treatment, left, and after treatment right.

Biltmore Bellow circa 1910

The bellow’s history begins in 1910. The bellow has providence from our client, who purchased it in 2018, that this is one of the Biltmore Estate’s bellows. The bellow had condition issues which we solved where appropriate. The goat skin leather was turning hard and brittle, and even disintegrating in areas from applications of boiled linseed oil and the suctioning of caustic wood ash and water into the bellows. Lime from hydrated wood ash caused the brass nozzle and decorative tacks could not be removed.


  • All tacking positions were mapped.
  • Historic goat skin was hydrated in order to block to create a pattern.
  • Tack holes conserved.
  • Where possible, historic decorative nails were cleaned and preserved to be reutilized.
  • Fresh same style vintage decorative nails were purchased.
  • New goat skin to match the historic goat skin created the new pieces.
  • Skin was secured by tacks and decorative nails into original conserved holes.
  • The historic oil varnished wood was cleaned and waxed.
  • Brasses were cleaned and hand-rubbed.

Follow us on the MPF Conservation Blog to be informed of our documentation of this project when posted.

Details of bellow during assessment, above;
After conservation treatment, below.

If you are interested in other wooden objects, see below: