As the Government aims to move away from a ‘‘throwaway culture’’ to a circular economy that encourages a ‘‘make, use and return’’ approach, some are embracing a fix and repair philosophy instead of taking items to the dump.
Reporter Simon Henderson visits a local restorer who brings tired, broken pieces of furniture back to life.
The art of restoration is a long family tradition for Natasha Just, of Lake Hawea.
She grew up in Ireland and developed her love of beautiful things from her father.
He was a furniture restorer ‘‘so I have been surrounded by antiques my entire life’’.
At university she studied graphic design, but at weekends and during holidays she was restoring furniture with her father and discovered it was very satisfying to restore a piece of furniture someone thought ‘‘couldn’t be saved’’, she said.
Ms Just used traditional techniques appropriate to the age of the item.
There were many differences to how furniture was made now and in the past.
In the past there were no screws and no polyvinyl acetate glue. ‘‘The glues they used back then were animal glue made from animal hides, from the bones and skins of animals and that is actually one of the methods I still use.’’
Another method was using shellac resin, made from the lac beetle of Southeast Asia.
Joinery was put together using dovetail joints instead of screws and few nails were used, ‘‘and when they were used they were little square nails’’.
Research was a big part of being able to restore a piece in an authentic manner.
‘‘Over the years I’ve gained a lot of knowledge on different eras, different furniture, but sometimes a piece comes in and I am like ‘Wow, OK I haven’t seen this before’, and that is when my research starts.’’
Knowledge of how different types of wood responded in varying climates was important.
‘‘A piece of furniture that might work well in the North Island doesn’t necessarily work in the South Island.’’
A family might have had a table for 20 years in the North Island with no problems ‘‘and they move here and six months later it has a crack in it’’.
‘‘So it is a challenge but it is an enjoyable challenge.’’