"Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength." — Betty Friedan
Leather can last a lifetime if it is looked after properly, but sadly it will also deteriorate if neglected. When leather has got to the stage where it is very badly cracked, then I usually recommend replacing those panels. However, at times I am asked to "just do your best." This is one of those cases, but the owner was delighted with the result.
"One must steer, not talk." ― Seneca
“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” ― Seneca
One of the nicest gifts you can give is something you already own that has been restored and given a new lease on life. I often have clients ask me about restoring their valued investment, a leather furniture item that is much loved but somewhat the worse for wear. Sometimes even the most ordinary looking of armchairs can have sentimental value, or is just so comfortable that the family just don't want to part with it. This armchair fell into that category, and was restored as a gift to family members from its elderly and beneficent owner.
The owner of this brown leather pouf also owns a black leather lounge suite and asked if it was possible to recolour it to match. Not a problem!
"The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind." — Robert Allen Zimmerman (Bob Dylan)
One thing I have learned in this business is to expect the unexpected. Old leather household items are occasionally brought to me for repair, but nothing prepared me for this set of vintage bellows with a zebra mane decoration which its owner had brought all the way from Zimbabwe. They still like to use the bellows when lighting their open fire, but the poor old thing had lost its puff. And no wonder: the leather valve had perished and was full of holes. Using the old leather as a template and following the original design, I managed to restore the bellows to full working condition and improve its appearance at the same time, right down to its new brass decorative nails.
I enjoy challenges like this as they present an opportunity to find a solution while learning along the way, which is one of my Core Values. The photos below tell the story of how the job progressed to completion. The owner was absolutely thrilled with the end result.
"If there is some art involved, I'd like it to be that it came through the cracks of daily work." — Martin Mull
Recently I was asked to inspect two armchairs from a client's German leather lounge suite with a view to repairing and refinishing. One area of concern was the level of deterioration of the leather on the armrests due to prolonged exposure to natural body oils and lack of proper maintenance. Not only had the finish broken down, but the leather substrate showed signs of damage as well. In severe cases we recommend replacement of the damaged panels. Fortunately, in this case we were able to sufficiently extract the contaminants to allow a successful repair and refinish before reinstating the mottled effect.
Occasionally we get asked to do jobs which fall outside our area of expertise. When that happens, we like to refer our clients to local businesses which specialise in that particular craft. One example is Jill Rose of Spellbound Quality Bookbinding, who recently repaired a client's antique cutlery box. The box was encased with a heavy grade of embossed paper, which is possibly why its owner thought it might have been leather. I left the box in Jill's capable hands, and she did a beautiful job, as you can see below.