Restoration and Conservation
Stabilizing an object in the process of entropy. This could include simply remounting art into an acid-free mounting or cleaning of mold. Museums often favor conservation because the object's function in most cases is being a visible example.
Restores an object, it can be function or finish or both. Restoring the function to an object generally improves the value of the object but not always. Restoring the finish can add or diminish the value. Shibui’s goal with most objects is to restore function and conserve the patina.
When the decision is made to refinish an object is generally because without this drastic measure the piece will not be marketable. It is an irreversible process so whatever value the original patina has now or in the future will be lost.
We have the resources (vintage rare woods and distinctive period hardware appropriate from chests collected over 20 years) and the knowledge, experience and technical skill to provide quality restoration of pieces in an economic fashion.
Restoring for North American Climate:
There is a great variation in humidity between winter and summer in most parts of Japan and Tansu were made with that in mind and most can take a good deal of change. North America is quite a bit dryer than Japan although we do have some areas of extremes as well. When tansu or any wood or bamboo comes to America from Japan there can be some significant changes. I have been in business for over 20 years in places like Santa Fe NM at over 7000 feet of elevation and now in Brooklyn only a few hundred yards from the water. There is less of a difference between Santa Fe and NY than there is between Japan and the US. When pieces get here we give them time to acclimate (1-3 months) and then begin our restoration. In some cases, very little needs to be done, in others we may have to re-peg the entire piece. The process is really about setting a new zero or tare point. In the life of a chest in Japan, the wood may shrink and expand a centimeter in the course of a year. This happens all year long, year after year. When a tansu gets to American the combined shrinkage on the back of a chest or the bottom of the drawers might be as much as 3 or 4 centimeters. Wood is strong and flexible and will move. If it moves too far something has to give, the wooden pegs may shear or the boards may check or split. So it is common for us to have to re-peg the back and bottom of the drawers. Sometimes it may only take a few new pegs, and sometimes we may have to replace every peg. That could be hundreds of pegs in a single piece. In some cases, where the shrinking of the case occurs we may have to shorten every drawer by half a centimeter just to allow the locks to work again. This process creates a new zero point. The wood will still expand further or shrink further but the flexibility of the design accommodates for that. So a piece that is restored in NY can live comfortably in most parts of North America. We have satisfied customers in Florida and in the Rockies and to be sure there are places where nothing will survive but those are the exceptions.