“My favorites are figurines and sculptures because there is so much movement and interesting detail in each piece,” says Hickok. “One of my most memorable restorations was a 300-year-old ship’s head. Although the body couldn’t be saved, the head was restored and put on a base.”
Museum-standard restoration is labor intensive, requiring specialized equipment, materials and procedures. Repair work is often slow and detailed due to the many steps involved, which are unique to each object.
“Finish work includes sculpting, and matching the style of origin and exact color of each piece,” says Hickok. She works with only six colors, then mixes them to create the exact shade needed. “Glaze has depth, and the lacquers have to reach the level of glaze with layer upon layer of color,” she says.
While an object may not be as valuable as it originally was before breakage, skilled restoration increases the value once repaired. Yet not all the items people bring in for repair are valuable antiques. Many are personal items and sentimental objects that have value only to the owner.
Both women were trained by Beckus’s late husband, Eric, who was trained in
New York City and started a studio in their home after moving to St. Petersburg 40 years ago. “There wasn’t anyone in the area to do the work until Eric came to town,” says Beckus.
Today, the two women work together with Beckus performing the steps to prepare an object for restoration and Hickok doing the finish work. Hickok, an artist who paints with oil, watercolor and acrylics, began doing art restoration last year. They have also branched out into “upscaling furniture,” taking vintage pieces of furniture and unusual art objects and giving them new life through refurbishing and hand painting.
Check out more of their work at floridaforthearts.org or find Beckus Design Studios on Facebook.