Keeping the “Art” in Artisan Restoration International

30 Oct
October 30, 2014

As artists ourselves, we at Artisan Restoration International understand the unique needs of restoring artful pieces. From sculpture to furniture to railings, we closely inspect each element and determine the best way to repair or rejuvenate while maintaining the artistic integrity of the piece. We’d like to showcase some of our recent restoration projects that required not just the basic know-how, but the touch of an artist.

Wooden French Doors. A total of 288 sets of these 16-foot tall French doors run throughout the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, HI. Weathered by sun, sand, and the salt mist from the ocean, these doors were beginning to deteriorate. For most of the doors the restoration process was limited to refinishing the panels, but this process involved sanding off the old varnish, chemically treating the wood, then painting on a new varnish.

before kea lani

The varnish on some sections had already eroded and water had seeped into the wood, causing it to rot. Our team evaluated the damage and determined the need for replacement. Instead of replacing entire panels, our team determined that it would be more cost effective to only replace the sections of the panels that were damaged beyond the surface. After taking careful measurements, our team removed the rotten sections and replaced them with new wood. The new wood had a drastically different color and grain than the original. In order to make the replaced sections seamlessly blend into the original panel, our team used an artist technique called wood graining to replicate the color and grain of the original. Once the new sections were matched to the original, the wood surface was sealed with varnish.

kea lani after

Japanese Wood-Gatherer Statue. The owner of this antique sculpture came to us and described how the sculpture was missing the bundle of sticks that it originally carried on its back. This presented a unique challenge because in most projects involving detached pieces both pieces are present.

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Our team set out to work by researching bronze statues from the same time period. Through extensive research, we developed a design that imitated the aesthetics of the time period and the materials of the statue.  Once the client approved the design, our team fabricated each twig in the bundle. After fabrication was complete the twigs were arranged and then secured together. Extra care was taken to make sure the twigs were secure since such delicate pieces can be tricky and slip out of arrangement. After the backpack unit was completed, it was secured to the original statue.

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Mosaic Repair. A condo association contacted us with this interesting project. A water pipe had burst in the wall behind the mosaic. The pipe needed to be fixed but the members of the association wanted to preserve the mosaic. Our team devised a way to preserve the mosaic by using a jigsaw to follow the lines of the tiles and cut out a section large enough for the plumber to access the pipe behind the wall.


After the pipe was repaired, our team replaced the water damaged section of the wall and remounted the mosaic. Using a color matching technique, our team used matching grout to re-integrate the removed section back into the original piece. Now, the mural actually has a removable panel for easy access to the plumbing, all without interfering with the overall ascetics.


Do you have any restoration projects that could use an artist’s touch to bring it back to life? Email us at or call us at 847-213-0800.

Happy Thursday!

Art Installations for Communal Spaces

29 Jul
July 29, 2014


The atmosphere of an art museum or gallery provides a sense of reverence for the art that inhabits it. The lighting and layout of the space is specifically designed to draw the focus to the art. But what about the art not confined in these super controlled environments? Whether we notice it or not, we encounter art every day. On the commute to work or cycling through parks, we pass by public art all the time. There are murals on underpasses, sculptures in parks, plaques on buildings, and countless other art installations sprinkled around the city.

Unfortunately, unless the installation is a recent addition, these pieces often go unnoticed. After all, when we pass by the same things day after day, we tend to forget the details.

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If we take the time to really look at some of the art we see everyday all sorts of questions start to pop up. Who made this? What is it? Why was it made? And most intriguingly; how was this made?
Some of the more outlandish public art sculptures seem to defy gravity, challenge societal standards or sometimes both. So what really goes into planning these pieces?

Public artists face a number of obstacles that more traditional artists do not. There is a great deal to consider when planning a piece for a communal space. For instance, the artist must consider the location of the piece. Is it indoor or outdoor? If it is outdoors, will it be sheltered or completely exposed? Will people have ready access to it or just be able to view it? These are just a few of the many considerations that must be taken when planning a public art piece.


The team at Great Lakes understands these stipulations and is ready to help you plan your public art installation. With a thorough understanding of structural and artistic materials the Great Lakes team can help determine what materials best suit the needs of the piece’s location while maintaining the integrity of the design. For example, if the design features a the texture of a material that may not be very hardy the Great Lakes team is ready to explore options of manipulating hardier materials to imitate the originally planned texture.

Metal is an ideal medium for public art installations. Indoor or outdoor, properly treated metal structures are sturdy and do not require much maintenance. With a huge selection of metals to choose from, the combinations of color, shape, and texture are virtually infinite. The Great Lakes team is ready to walk you through the strengths and weaknesses of each material and will help you value engineer your project to afford you the best results for the best price.


Now that you know a little bit more about what goes into public art installations, we hope that you’ve gained a little perspective about the public art installations you see everyday.

Is your community looking to restore an existing public art installation? Or looking to create a new one? Contact us today via email, or call 847-213-0800.

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Spring Cleaning: Restoring Outdoor Furniture

30 Apr
April 30, 2014


Spring is here and its time to unpack your outdoor furniture from storage and return them to your yard or patio. The sense of excitement seeing your outdoor furniture for the first time in months is like running into an old friend. However, this sense of excitement can often be dampened when you start noticing the details. You can’t help but think, was that there when I put it away in the fall?

It’s to be expected; after all, outdoor furniture faces particularly harsh conditions facing the elements year after year. So we have to ask, are your well-loved outdoor metal pieces not looking their best? Now is a great time to refurbish your outdoor furniture and Artisan Restoration International is here to help.


We offer a wide range of restoration services to rejuvenate worn-out outdoor metal pieces.

Basic Repairs. In addition to sun and rain, your outdoor furniture faces a myriad of psychical stress. Pieces that rock, swivel, or recline are at particular risk for breaking/damage. It is important to ensure your furniture is safe to use. We offer repairs such as re-attaching chair legs and securing loose joints by re-welding them. So no matter how hard kids play on them, or how many linebacker-figured relatives sit on them again and again, your outdoor furniture will be sure to last.


A fresh coat of paint. It’s amazing how a change of color can affect the atmosphere of a space. We offer a broad spectrum of patinas, powder coats, and paints. When it comes to paint, metal furniture traditionally has a rather limited range of color options (black, white, brown) but you’d be amazed at what adding pastel tones or a bold saturated primary color can do to punch up your outdoor living space.

For metal materials patinas and powder coating are available. A new patina not only brings new color, but also helps protect from weathering or corrosion. Here are some of the patina samples we’ve used recently


Powder coating comes in a broad range of colors, provides protection, and lasts for up to ten years.

Refurbishing outdoor furniture is great way to turn generic pieces into something uniquely yours. Contact us today at or 847-213-0800 to get started on restoring your outdoor furniture!

Creating New Outdoor Features

29 Apr
April 29, 2014


We at Great Lakes Metal Works & Art Studio firmly believe that your yard is a seasonal living room. And just like any other room of your house, you want to make it your own. To ensure you get the most out of your outdoor space, its a great idea to incorporate features that help your enjoy your space to the fullest. Even with the infinite resource of online shopping, sometimes you can’t find quite what you’re looking for. Or maybe you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, but you know what you’ve seen in stores or online just isn’t it.


Whether your garden’s issue is security, privacy, noise, comfort, safety or aesthetics, we offer practical, beautiful solutions with custom fences, garden gates, outdoor furniture, stair railings, and sculpture. Even  if you’re unsure of exactly what you want, we at Great Lakes Metal Works want to help you create your unique feature. We will use our expertise and experience to guide you through the entire process.

How It Works. For the first consultation we encourage you tobring in pictures of what you know you do or don’t like. This can include anything from color, shape, material, texture or elements of other designs.

Our designers will work with you to create a structurally sound design that incorporates the design elements you love and leaves out the ones you don’t.

Once the design is complete, our team will value engineer the proposal for the fabrication process. This may include using a cost-friendly material then adding a finish to give it a high-end look without the high-end price tag.

We offer annual maintenance packages to ensure that your custom design looks great year after year.

Garden Gates. Garden gates can offer security, privacy, and beauty for your outdoor space.


Fences. We design fences of all shapes and sizes, from tall, simple, traditional fences to small, ornate garden bed fences.


Arbors. For spaces with few or no trees, arbors are a wonderful way to add vertical visual interest.


Sculpture. Like hanging a stunning picture on a wall, a garden sculpture grounds the space and provides a central focus point.


Outdoor Furniture. Outdoor furniture makes your space inviting and comfortable.


Have we inspired you to update your garden? Contact us at or 847-213-0800 to get started!