Monday, July 13, 2009

Art Deco Redo

This Art Deco console, attributed to Wolfgang Hoffmann, was found in less than pristine condition at a local antique shop.

Tall Husband and I collaborated on the refinishing of this Art Deco manicure table turned console. I had searched for a table like one that had been in my clipping notebook for years...then one day we walked into an antique shop in Houston and there it stood, doing duty as a place for the shop's business cards and signs. It was painted a bright turquoise with pink, white and black showing through.

The shop owner told us that the late 1920's to early 1930's piece had been a manicure trolley in a beauty salon and its design was attributed to Wolfgang Hoffmann, son of the famous architect and Wiener Werkstatte co-founder,
Josef Hoffmann. Inside its small drawer was evidence of its previous life...numerous spills of nail enamel in various shades of red, hardened into a stubborn, bumpy veneer.

Discovering that there was Bakelite beneath layers of paint was a delight. Legs, hinges and pulls were re-chromed at a metal plating shop and reproduction casters were sourced.

The little trolley's chromed legs and pulls were beginning to rust through the chrome. A corner had been severely damaged and there was all that paint, inexpertly applied. It's casters were broken and crumbling. It was love at first sight. Once we got the piece home, I wondered aloud, "Whom can we trust to refinish this?" Tall Husband pointed at me. "Me!?"

A manicure trolley in the early decades of the twentieth century, it now holds drink coasters and gray linen cocktail napkins.

So with racing heart, respirator, paint remover, and proper ventilation, I began. Tall Husband did some research and found a metal plating shop that usually did chrome on antique car bumpers and motorcycles. Off came the legs, pulls and every little screw. At my request, Tall Husband constructed a metal angle and with it I began to build up a fine corner with wood filler. We tested several black paints and, surprisingly, the best looking one was a can of black spray paint from Sherwin Williams, called Almost Flat.

I tackled the top of the little table last, using a hand sander with a fine sandpaper. Well into the job, I smelled a strange odor and noticed that the surface was becoming mysteriously shiny. Throwing off my mask and gloves, I ran to my computer and searched for Wolfgang Hoffmann. That's when I learned that most of his tables were topped by Bakelite. Tall Husband came out to my work area and in one sniff identified phenolic resin, an odor that is emitted by Bakelite when its heated (e.g., sanded with an electric sander.) I immediately switched to fine steel wool and a gentler touch. At one point in refinishing the surface, the shine of the ebony Bakelite popped out in all its glory.

Returned to its original chicness, the Art Deco table now resides in our living room and stands ready with gray linen cocktail napkins and black coasters from Ligne Roset.

And would you believe it? There is another one like it, this time covered in paint the color of red nail polish. We spotted it in the window of Luther's, a hip boutique in Austin, Texas.
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  1. You did good!! Very chic and cool, and also at Luthers!!!!

  2. Super perfect job! Man, that's a hot little console!!

  3. great job...that looks beautiful! soulful piece. do you want to come help us finish up on our furniture?! can't wait to meet you.

  4. Annie, you did a perfectly exquisite job on this!! I'm impressed. Sam (Becki's friend.)

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