How Do I Become an Antique Restorer?

B. Koch

It is possible to become an antique restorer in a number of ways. Typically, antique restorers specialize in the repair of one certain type of object. They may go to a trade school to learn about this type of object, or they may work with a master restorer for many years. Other students of restoration go to graduate school to learn more about antique restoration.

An antique restorer often specializes in the restoration of one type of object, like chairs.
An antique restorer often specializes in the restoration of one type of object, like chairs.

Perhaps the most common way to become an antique restorer is to apprentice with an experienced restorer. These individuals have been working with antiques for a very long time, and are the most experienced teachers. Some antique restorers have spent years learning from master restorers.

Restoring antique frames is one item a restorer may work with.
Restoring antique frames is one item a restorer may work with.

Some antique restorers have gone to trade school. For example, an antique restorer who was interested in restoring old houses may have learned carpentry. The techniques learned in carpentry school can be extended to not only building new houses but to restoring old houses. This same idea applies to those who learn how to paint before restoring antique paintings or how to make pottery before restoring ceramics. Becoming adept in making these types of objects is essential to the ability to restore them.

Acquiring carpentry skills may be useful for antique restorers.
Acquiring carpentry skills may be useful for antique restorers.

Art conservation programs are another way to become an antique restorer. These programs often teach the science of restoration and conservation as well as the ethics and policies associated with it. Students typically learn a little about many different types of restoration and then choose an area of specialization. These conservation programs are typically graduate level programs that require students to have some background in art, chemistry, and restoration before admission.

To become an antique restorer, a student must learn the history of the type of object he wants to restore. For example, a furniture restorer must know about the history of furniture and the styles of different periods in order to reconstruct or repair furniture accurately. The restoration must make the restored object appear to have been made in the appropriate style.

Most individuals who become antique restorers work specifically with one type of object. Some may learn to restore antique furniture, while others may learn to restore paintings. Often, a specialty may be even narrower. A restorer may specialize in the restoration of 18th century style chairs or of oil paintings, for example. Those who specialize in antique restoration are specifically trained to restore these specific, specialized objects.

Antique vehicles can also be restored for use or re-sale.
Antique vehicles can also be restored for use or re-sale.

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