Tag Archive for: restoration

In 2015, Go Ahead and Think BIG & small

09 Jan
January 9, 2015

While many people are doing their best to eat better and workout more,  perhaps you took on a different kind of new year’s resolution. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take up projects long neglected and we’re just the people to help.

In 25 years of business, we’ve seen all sorts of things come through our doors. From bizarre furniture to beautiful antiques and unusual art, we’ve worked on them all. Some of the pieces that stand out are both the biggest and smallest pieces we’ve worked on. Working in very large or very small scale presents various obstacles for maintenance and craftsmanship.


Sculpture by Ralph S. Greenhow

There are particular challenges associated with working on pieces of such a large stature. Firstly, transporting these pieces to our studio can be very difficult. Heavy pieces require specialized transportation, which can be costly. In addition, large pieces are at a greater risk for both surface and structural damage while in transit. An easy solution to avoid this risk and cost is to have our team work on-site. We have ample experience in setting up on location to ensure minimal disruption and quick service. For pieces in common areas, such as hotels, resorts, or professional buildings, we can create our work schedule to accommodate your business hours.

rwanda sculpture

If a job does require that the piece be moved for maintenance, we take extra precautions to ensure that it is properly supported while being restored.

On the other end of the spectrum, working with very small pieces presents its own set of unique challenges. Working in miniature requires specialized tools, a steady hand, and a great deal of patience. For instance, the Great Lakes team fabricated a miniature replica of a client’s yacht. Working to scale and joining the plates together proved to be quite an ambitious task, but the final product was exactly what the client has envisioned.


Many of the ornate details of our work feature organic elements such as flowers, buds, and leaves. These elements are handmade out of very thin, delicate metal. Although creating these tiny details can be difficult for the fabricator, the results are stunning and add a major “wow-factor” to just about any design.


When casting small designs, special care must be taken in making the molds to ensure the details will be captured in the final product. Below is a close up of a mezuzah and the rubber mold we cast it from.



Big, small, and anywhere in between, we welcome all job sizes. Let us help you start the new year off right and tackle that project you’ve been wondering about!



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.

Japanese Sculpture_before2 1

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.

Scan 1

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 info@greatlakesartstudio.com or call us at 847-213-0800.

Happy Thursday!

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 info@greatlakesartstudio.com or 847-213-0800 to get started on restoring your outdoor furniture!