The art of restoration: As a columnist writing about the various arts in Lincoln County, I often get tips about people and places that I should check out. Recently, I got steered in the direction of Damarine Antiques, located at 263 Bristol Road, Damariscotta.
I was told that antique furniture refinisher and retired New York corporate executive Dan Buckley, who owns Damarine Antiques along with his wife, Miriam Buckley, basically has perfected the art of bringing very old, often neglected pieces of wood furniture back to beautiful, functional life.
I concur. A recent visit to Damarine Antiques, during which I chatted at length with the Buckleys and “petted” numerous restored pieces of furniture from the early 19th century, led me to that conclusion.
Passing my hand over the surface of Dan Buckley’s restored pieces – a Federal-era maple bureau, a solid mahogany drop-leaf table, a pine blanket chest – was something akin to touching the smoother-than-smooth cheek of a newborn baby, to the feel of the softest suede. Dan’s meticulous work to restore antique wood furniture that often starts out stained and nearly black from years of sitting in a forgotten corner somewhere results in a piece of furniture that looks and feels unbelievably nice.
How does he do it? That was my question.
“First, I strip it to the bare wood and sand it,” Dan said of working on a newly acquired piece. “Then I can repair it if there are pieces missing or a bad crack.”
Next, he stains the piece “to bring out the grain of the wood and the color – to look as natural as possible.” Dan would never, ever use colored stain or paint on a piece, he said.
Next comes a coat of clear shellac mixed with denatured alcohol “to seal the stain into the wood,” Dan said. “If you don’t put that shellac coat on there, if you go right to putting varnish on there, that varnish is going to pull that stain right out of the wood and you’ll have a muddy look.”
Sanding again, with very fine sandpaper, is next, followed by a first coat of oil-based varnish. Then more sanding after the varnish dries, which takes “at least overnight.”
Then more sanding. “You try to get no ripples in the finish from the brush,” Dan explained. “You need to create another new smooth surface and then apply the second coat of varnish.”
And then more sanding, followed by the application of paste wax with a super fine steel wool applicator pad. “I buff that out by hand. It may need a second coat (of paste wax), depending on the look,” Dan said.
It takes Dan about four days on average to restore a four-drawer bureau to what may be greater than its former glory.
“What Dan does is art,” Miriam summed up at one point during my visit.
I couldn’t agree more.
Find Damarine Antiques online at damarineantiques.com. Call 522-0949 for more information.
Must-see musical: “Shrek the Musical,” staged by the MVHS Players over at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, is halfway through its two-week run. Amber Clark, LCN graphic and web designer, attended the production on Saturday evening, Nov. 10 and reports that it is a must-see show, adding that “Wyatt Sykes as Lord Farquaad steals the show.” Sykes is a junior at MVHS.
“Shrek the Musical” plays three more times: Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets at the door are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
(Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543. I love to hear from readers.)