Bernacki & Associates has the ability to restore and create any coating from traditional to contemporary. Antique, natural finish materials may be oil based or derived from tree resin. As natural finishes enhance the wood beauty, the modern coatings provide the durability for objects in frequent use.

 Shellac sets very rapidly. In the above photograph, there are visible circular strokes made during applying shellac with a  French polishing  pad.

Shellac sets very rapidly. In the above photograph, there are visible circular strokes made during applying shellac with a French polishing pad.

 Detail of a Queen Ann highboy, as seen before conservation

Detail of a Queen Ann highboy, as seen before conservation

 Detail of a Queen Ann highboy after conservation

Detail of a Queen Ann highboy after conservation


 Conservation can be a funny thing. Sometimes it requires microscopy, vacuum tables, lasers and exotic materials. Sometimes it just takes a little warmth.  A major piece by a prime Art Nouveau designer recently came in for conservation. The large piece was sound and stable structurally but had some very obvious problem areas in the finish caused by the introduction of moisture. The problem areas were all at the bottom but were still extremely visible, obvious and a serious distraction from the exquisite beauty of the entire piece.  The main problem was a white/light colored circle (ten inches in diameter by one quarter inch in width) right in the middle of the horizontal display area at the bottom. This outer circle also contained five smaller, various-sized white circles within it. As you moved towards one end of this surface, there were large areas of variegated damage that spilled out over the edge and onto the angled and rounded apron.   Read full story...

Conservation can be a funny thing. Sometimes it requires microscopy, vacuum tables, lasers and exotic materials. Sometimes it just takes a little warmth.

A major piece by a prime Art Nouveau designer recently came in for conservation. The large piece was sound and stable structurally but had some very obvious problem areas in the finish caused by the introduction of moisture. The problem areas were all at the bottom but were still extremely visible, obvious and a serious distraction from the exquisite beauty of the entire piece.

The main problem was a white/light colored circle (ten inches in diameter by one quarter inch in width) right in the middle of the horizontal display area at the bottom. This outer circle also contained five smaller, various-sized white circles within it. As you moved towards one end of this surface, there were large areas of variegated damage that spilled out over the edge and onto the angled and rounded apron.

Read full story...

 Lane Technical College Prep High School is a public high school on the north side of Chicago. Over the years, it has become the repository of a large important collection of artwork. This collection includes murals from 1909-1913 that were commissioned for the original school building. The current building dates from 1934 and was gifted with a large collection of murals done for Chicago’s Second World’s Fair, the Century of Progress. Between 1934 and the early 1940s, Lane Tech received murals, frescos, and sculptures that were created or acquired with funding from the Federal Art Project (FAP) which was created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  There are two pieces of wood sculptural relief in the library that were acquired with assistance from FAB funding. They were designed by Peterpaul Ott between 1934-1938, though there are some questions as to how much of the carving he did and how much was done under his supervision. Both reliefs are composed of carved mahogany panels 6’-0” W and 2.5” thick. The sculpture on the east wall, “Controlling of the Elements,” is made up of 5 panels that combine for an approximately height of 15’-0”. The west wall, “The Evolution of the Book,” is made up of 7 panels and is approximately 15’-0”.   Read full story...

Lane Technical College Prep High School is a public high school on the north side of Chicago. Over the years, it has become the repository of a large important collection of artwork. This collection includes murals from 1909-1913 that were commissioned for the original school building. The current building dates from 1934 and was gifted with a large collection of murals done for Chicago’s Second World’s Fair, the Century of Progress. Between 1934 and the early 1940s, Lane Tech received murals, frescos, and sculptures that were created or acquired with funding from the Federal Art Project (FAP) which was created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

There are two pieces of wood sculptural relief in the library that were acquired with assistance from FAB funding. They were designed by Peterpaul Ott between 1934-1938, though there are some questions as to how much of the carving he did and how much was done under his supervision. Both reliefs are composed of carved mahogany panels 6’-0” W and 2.5” thick. The sculpture on the east wall, “Controlling of the Elements,” is made up of 5 panels that combine for an approximately height of 15’-0”. The west wall, “The Evolution of the Book,” is made up of 7 panels and is approximately 15’-0”.

Read full story...

 Shellac is an all purpose sealant and finish that is durable, time tested, and so non-toxic it is edible. It is environmentally friendly, renewable, and capable of incredibly deep rich finishes that are organically and aesthetically compatible with all woods. It can be used alone, with traditional natural finishes and coatings, and with modern synthetic mixtures.   Shellac consists of a resin which is the secretion of the female lac beetle and the solvent ethyl alcohol. The  lac beetle  (Laccifer Lacca) is found in southwest Asia, primarily India. The beetles feed on the tree sap of three specific trees: Palash, Kusum, and Ber or Indian Plum. During the life and egg lying cycles of the female beetle lac is secreted to protect the beetle and the eggs. The branches are then harvested and the lac resin scraped off. This is called  sticklac  and at this stage it is still very impure with a lot of contaminants and debris.   Read full story...

Shellac is an all purpose sealant and finish that is durable, time tested, and so non-toxic it is edible. It is environmentally friendly, renewable, and capable of incredibly deep rich finishes that are organically and aesthetically compatible with all woods. It can be used alone, with traditional natural finishes and coatings, and with modern synthetic mixtures. 

Shellac consists of a resin which is the secretion of the female lac beetle and the solvent ethyl alcohol. The lac beetle (Laccifer Lacca) is found in southwest Asia, primarily India. The beetles feed on the tree sap of three specific trees: Palash, Kusum, and Ber or Indian Plum. During the life and egg lying cycles of the female beetle lac is secreted to protect the beetle and the eggs. The branches are then harvested and the lac resin scraped off. This is called sticklac and at this stage it is still very impure with a lot of contaminants and debris.

Read full story...

 The process of conservation/preservation of an object or structure that contains historic significance can be very challenging if that object or structure must continue to be used on a regular basis. If that historic object or structure must also be brought into compliance with new and current regulations and social norms, those challenges multiply.   An unusual example of this involved a set of two very beautiful and unusual elevators that are located in the historic landmark Art Deco Powhatan Apartments built on the south side of Chicago in 1929.   The two elevator cabs were of the old gated operator run type. The elevators needed to be updated with new sliding doors and self operating controls as well as matching current safety codes. The elevator cabs have distinctive patterns of maple veneers that cover most of the interior walls with a top band of matching rectangles of sycamore veneer. These were very distressed but had developed a beautiful patina and tone to the woods. There was also a variety of cast aluminum sculptural elements incorporated on the walls and around the ceiling. The metal parts had a great deal of wear and accumulated grime but were structurally stable.    Read full story...

The process of conservation/preservation of an object or structure that contains historic significance can be very challenging if that object or structure must continue to be used on a regular basis. If that historic object or structure must also be brought into compliance with new and current regulations and social norms, those challenges multiply. 

An unusual example of this involved a set of two very beautiful and unusual elevators that are located in the historic landmark Art Deco Powhatan Apartments built on the south side of Chicago in 1929. 

The two elevator cabs were of the old gated operator run type. The elevators needed to be updated with new sliding doors and self operating controls as well as matching current safety codes. The elevator cabs have distinctive patterns of maple veneers that cover most of the interior walls with a top band of matching rectangles of sycamore veneer. These were very distressed but had developed a beautiful patina and tone to the woods. There was also a variety of cast aluminum sculptural elements incorporated on the walls and around the ceiling. The metal parts had a great deal of wear and accumulated grime but were structurally stable. 

Read full story...