Reviver Notes


Documentation of repairs completed for a set of dining chairs

Made with the Elston Family 

My friend Michelle brought me 8 chairs that she and her husband received as a wedding present. Each chair needed to be taken apart and re-glued, and after putting the chairs back together I left notes about the completed repairs.

In more formal antique work, certain repairs are sometimes noted for “fine furniture,” but not often for less valuable pieces where provenance is not valued. In this way, the notes here are uncommon. They borrow from a practice used by restoration technicians, but they communicate utilitarian histories. In the end, not everything can be noted, and something is always left to be discovered. I did not sign my name, leaving that to be part of the oral history.
How do we stumble through learning with our hands? What are the clues our hands find? These are the questions I asked to the furniture. The chairs had been previously repaired, and because of that they all needed different kinds of attention. The process of re-gluing a chair is like getting to know a creature; examining a skeleton and a personality. All furniture shows marks left by people—marks made while either making, repairing, or using.

Slowly, I took each chair apart piece by piece, observing the way the object was constructed. The deconstruction process leads to discoveries. It's a delicate dance punctuated by sharp, aggressive movements. Leaving the notes about my process was an act of looking ahead: forward in time to their daily use and future repairs.