Preservation of the instrument
Our main goal in conservation-restoration work, is to preserve the originality of the instrument. Restoration work is intended to restore the original function of the instrument, but only when it is not in contradiction with conservation works. We avoid interference with the final layers of the musical instrument, beside the careful noninvasive cleaning. In most cases, encime cleaners are used for this process. The original components and the structural design are preserved to the highest possible extent. Missing parts are made as complete replicas of the originals, using the period materials. In accordance with the modern conservation approaches, those parts can be clearly distinguished from the original components of the musical instrument. Both conservation and restoration works are mostly reversible.
When materials that we use, are not legaly restricted (tortoise shell, ivory, …), we always use historically correct materials. The wood used in the conservaton works comes from a couple of hundred years old objects, and artifacts that were discarded and no longer in use. It forms our permanent stock of material. Glue, especially hide glue, was used in most ancient instruments. The equipment and parts of the missing decoration or construction, used in restoration, correspond to the originally used materials.
This pursuit of originality, even after years of acquiring experience in this field, still requires a lot of research work in the field of the history of individual instruments, technologies, materials and their historical use.
When restoring antrument, there is usually a need and desire to merge both aspects of »reviving«: conservation and restoration processes. As we have mentioned before, our primary goal is the the preservation of the originality of the musical instrument. But in most cases it is possible to perform restoration works in such a way that function and full playability are restored. In the first place the work involves elimination of poor and unprofessional old repairs, if needed, and cleaning of the instrument. The next stage is to restore the structural stability of the instrument, which includes gluing the cracks, making missing or irreversibly damaged parts of the construction and final assembly. The last stage is work on the missing equipment, such as are pegs, posts, bridges … and the final set up of the instrument.
Damage we are dealing with
The instruments that come into our workshop are often several hundred years old, and they usually bear the consequences of time, use and abuse. Wear, cracks, missing wood, parts and equipment, dirt deposits, unglued pieces of construction, badly done old repairs and the like are just a part of the damage that we deal with during conservation and restoration stages of our work. We invest all of our experience and knowledge in order to, whenever it is possible, return you an instrument that will retain its historical character and value and regain the full functionality – playability.
Restored mandolin made by one of the greatest Neapolitan luthiers - Giovanni Battista Fabricatore (circa 1745-1820)
Take a look at the result of our conservation and restoration work on this historically important instrument, the early Neapolitan mandolin, which was made in 1796, by one of the best luthiers of the late baroque Naples, Giovanni Battista Fabricatore. In addition to beautiful, precise woodworking and excellent tone, the instrument is also richly decorated with use of valuable and precious materials of the time, such as ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearl and red schellac mastic.
The instrument is fully functional after its restoration, and is currently exhibited at the Ptuj Museum, which holds the largest collection of old musical instruments in Slovenia. If you have the opportunity to visit Ptuj, I invite you to take a walk through the museum where you can see this instrument by yourself.
Here are a few photographs of the Fabricatore mandolin before and after the conservation – restoration work. Photographs of the restored mandolin were taken in Mr. Boris Farič photo studio.
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