Tag Archives: Art Restoration

Environmental Studies Center Canvas Backdrop Restoration

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Conservator Kate Wood of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers recently restored a theater backdrop at the Environmental Studies Center in Jensen Beach, Florida.  To fund this work, Alchemy was awarded a grant by Women Supporting the Arts (WSA) in conjunction with the Wilmington Trust.

Work in progress


This rewarding project was a challenge due to the fragile nature of the canvas mural. The hanging and lift systems were extremely corroded.  The canvas was stained and ripped, and the original artist had used water soluble poster paints in several places, which were now smeared and were a challenge to address. However,  these elements were successfully treated and the following repairs made:

  • Reinforced paint loss areas with acid free gesso on the reverse side of the canvas.
  • Created and installed a buffer for the sharp edge of the of the bottom roll bar. This will prevent future damage as the backdrop is raised.
  • Patched holes using new canvas and acid free glue. The top of the backdrop was reinforced with a long strip of canvas to repair and prevent tearing.
  • Replaced both sides of the rusted lift system wires with non-rusting, plastic coated heavy-duty wire.
  • Removed old hanging lumber and replaced with a single continuous bar.
  • Matched paint and touched up missing and dirty areas of paint.
  • Created a new secure hanging system and rehang the backdrop.

WSA’s mission is to build a community of women philanthropists who inspire, educate and encourage women to strengthen the arts and cultural environment in Martin County. The Environmental Resource Center is a valuable educational resource for the Treasure Coast. Alchemy’s restoration enhanced he Center, which builds environmental awareness among the students of Martin County. Alchemy Fine Art Restorers approaches restoration using the least invasive techniques possible.

Kate Wood has painted numerous murals and theater backgrounds in the Treasure Coast area. This canvas backdrop restoration project revisited those roots while also showcasing her world-class conservation skills. Kate has also taught oil painting to area students of all ages for two decades and is an accomplished artist.

Alchemy Fine Art Restorers thanks Women Supporting the Arts and Wilmington Trust for this grant and for the ongoing work both organizations do to better the arts in our local community!



Pharoah’s Horses

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“The Pharoah’s Horses” is an 1848 work by British painter John Fredrick Herring Sr.

In partnership with our good friends at Palm City Art and Frame, Alchemy Fine Art Restorers worked on a well-executed, but damaged copy of this famous image.

The owner of this damaged painting knew it was a copy, but appreciated the work as a decorative piece, as he should have. Such popular images are frequently copied by students and admiring amateurs.  Typically, there is no intent to deceive. Rather, these works are used as teaching tools by the aspiring artist. In this case, the painter was a relative of the owner.

Pharoah’s Horses: An Iconic Image

“The Pharoah’s Horses” is one of the most popular images of all time!  It has decorated countless parlors for over a century and is a popular tattoo.  Antiques Roadshow lists it as one of the most copied paintings. In fact, it was once so ubiquitous that it is included in the background of Norman Rockwell’s “Solitaire” (1950).

Does this mean a copy is always worthless?  Perhaps not. A year after Herring’s work sold at auction for almost half-a-million dollars, a man bought what he thought was a copy for $25 at a Missouri flea market (1987). After painstaking research into the paint and canvas chemistry of this flea market find, it was postulated that the Herring painting might itself be a copy of an earlier work.  Suddenly, the flea market copy was the original and the original a copy!

Alchemy Fine Art Restorers can’t determine which was original without examining the paintings first-hand, but you have to admit, it’s an interesting story.

Here’s hoping you find your own flea market treasure.  In the mean time, enjoy some images from our restoration of “Pharoah’s Horses.”

The damaged, dirty painting.

The damaged, dirty painting. The canvas was torn in multiples spots.


Cleaning in progress, showing half and half.

The restored and cleaned Pharoah's Horses

The fully restored and cleaned Pharoah’s Horses.


Photo Cleaning & Paper Restoration

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A stained surface distracts from the overall impression of the image.  This week, Alchemy cleaned this engaging photo of a girl.  To maintain the integrity of the photo, Kate used proprietary chemical processes to lighten the staining.  

Photo Cleaning

Here are some before and after images of a photo cleaning performed by Kate Wood. Click on the photo to see a more detailed version:

Before: The painting was stained and dirty.

Before photo cleaning: The painting was stained and dirty.

A lovely smile is again the focus of this engaging portrait.

After: A lovely smile is again the focus of this engaging portrait.











Paper Restoration

With delicate materials like paper, cleaning is meant to restore the image back to a state where it can be proudly displayed. Here are before and after images from a recent paper cleaning project Alchemy Fine Art Restorers completed. Unlike some other restorers, this was not done via Photoshop or any other digital manipulation. Instead, the original paper image was cleaned and restored using modern, reversible techniques.

Click on each image to see larger versions of these paper restoration samples.

Before restoration

Before restoration







After Restoration by Alchemy Fine Art Restorers

After Restoration by Alchemy Fine Art Restorers

If you own an object in need of professional attention, make an appointment with Alchemy Fine Art Restorers in Stuart, FL. Estimates are always free and we even provide local pickup and delivery!

Owner: Kate Wood Phone: (772) 287-0835,

Email: katewoodartist@comcast.net.

Contact Alchemy: If you own an object in need of professional attention, make an appointment with Alchemy Fine Art Restorers in Stuart, FL. Estimates are always free and we even provide local pickup and delivery!

Owner: Kate Wood Phone: (772) 287-0835

Email: katewoodartist@comcast.net