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Eli Wilner & Company in New York announces the new Object Restoration Studio

NEW YORK, NY.- Over the last 35 years, the craftspeople of Eli Wilner & Company have been finely tuning their skills in carving, mold-making, and gilding to become masters of frame restoration and replication. As with conservators of any medium, they are constantly researching and compiling methods and techniques from the past in order to stay faithful to the intentions of the original artisans, while taking advantage of technological improvements in the materials involved in the craft.

The factors involved in frame restoration overlap with many other decorative arts such as sculpture, furniture, and architecture. This is why many Eli Wilner clients now trust the studio with complex object restorations. A recent example of this was for a private client, typically a collector of fine American paintings, who acquired an antique angel sculpture which had suffered damage to its delicate gilded and poly-chromed surface, in addition to structural cracks and losses. This was actually the second time that this particular client had brought a severely damaged antique sculpture for work to the Wilner studio. It is evident that the success of the first experimental project opened up new possibilities in the nature of this client’s collecting habits - in the same way they realized they can enhance a painting acquisition by always insisting on proper framing, they can now increase value on three-dimensional antique objects in the collection by investing in superior restoration.

It should be noted that currently the types of objects the Wilner studio will directly accept are limited to those fabricated with the most commonly used materials and techniques in frame-making: i.e. hand carved or cast elements, painted or gilded surfaces. However, Eli Wilner & Company has the highest standards for customer service and will go to great lengths to see their clients’ needs met. That is why they have developed an extensive network of conservators in a variety of media, as well as other historical experts, across the country with whom they collaborate on a case by case basis.

For example, in 2008, when a client purchased an antique three-panel, reverse-painted glass wall screen and wanted it deconstructed in order to be transformed into three individual pieces of wall art, they worked closely with a highly respected glass conservator. While the glass expert was able to minimize and stabilize some cracking that had occurred on the glass surface and advise on proper handling, the Wilner team examined the structure of the existing metal framework, removing hinges and the original metal backing sheets that had severely rusted. New interior wood backings were sized to fit flush inside the original frames. This change also allowed for reciprocal wall hanging hardware to be mounted that had sufficient strength to support these very heavy objects. After the top fitters at Wilner’s Manhattan gallery reunited these delicate glass panels with their metal frames, they arranged packing and transportation of the objects, and personally oversaw installation in the client’s residence. When the client relocated a few years later, the Wilner team was enlisted to re-install them in the new home.

Similarly, in 2010, when Eli Wilner & Company was honored to be asked by Sotheby’s to provide a frame for the flag recovered from Custer’s Last Stand that was being sold by the Detroit Institute of Arts, they worked in tandem with a top textile conservator to determine the safest handling and fitting methods to allow this important relic of American history to be appreciated by many future generations. Wilner staff located a period-appropriate antique frame from within their vast inventory that was able to accommodate the object with some slight modifications - including building up the frame to match the depth of the plexiglass box inside which the flag had been previously pressure mounted. The Wilner team agreed with the conservator it was vital to install a layer of UV-filtering, anti-reflective, shatter-resistant glass to help further protect the flag from potentially damaging environmental factors. The added weight of this glass became a factor in handling the frame - a historical object on its own - as it was important to avoid placing pressure on the delicate, cast corner ornaments that were also already well over a century old. For more information on our capabilities, or for a quote on an object restoration, please email

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