One of the most cherished decorative pieces of furniture I have is a Queen Anne sofa my mother purchased when I was in high school (over 43 years ago). While that particular piece is not the same style as my other modern furniture, it is by far an amazing piece of jewelry and a true conversational piece that stands out with a certain seduction and appeal.
I saw an inspiring story about an extraordinary furniture conservator, Leroy Graves, who has kept Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned collection of 18th-century furniture splendidly and correctly attired. Graves can sniff out a fake in a second and know if it has been altered to pass as an antique.
With only a grammar school education from rural Virginia, Graves worked his way from the maintenance crew to being considered the leading upholstery conservator in North America and Europe. He can make reproductions that are used throughout the historic area.
For chairs with no upholstery, Graves fabricates a copper cap. It is covered with firm foam, linen, then a show cover, and decorated with brass nails to form the new seat. For furniture that has some or all of its old upholstery, he builds flexible frames that are upholstered and slipped over the furniture. (Virginia Pilot, May 20, 2018)
He operates like a detective when it comes to repairing and refitting antiques. His work is featured in an ongoing exhibition called “Upholstery CSI.” Click here to watch the recent story that appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, “Upholstery CSI”: Preserving antique furniture at Colonial Williamsburg. Here’s to the fashion of furniture conservation!