There’s a gorgeous girl
with an eye for design and a heart for the planet.
Adele Spencer is making it
her business to gently work old furniture back to life, restoring beauty to the
piece without modifying its story.
business, Restored by Hand, replaces
the blunt instrument of power tools with low impact, traditional restoration
Beeswax and a
polissoir are the primary tools of her trade. A champion of the polissoir in
Tasmania, she sources the reed burnisher from Virginia. The seventeenth century
handcrafted tool lends itself to the otherwise difficult task of rubbing cold,
hard beeswax into timber. Her choice of tools is unsurprising, her preference
is to keep as close to the earth as possible.
'Unstained wood timber is
more beautiful as it is. Beeswax is more impervious than fancy finishers. It
doesn’t change the colour of the wood and the reed burnisher crushes the wood
fibres that seal the wood,' Spencer says.
Before Restored by Hand, Spencer spent ten years behind a computer screen,
dreaming of creativity. She has dabbled in restoration and has long-toyed with
'I’ve always been interested
in working with glass but I was concerned with making new pieces from new
materials and the impact that has on the world.'
Earlier this year she cut
herself adrift from the certainty of the public service and swam into unknown
waters. She was soon buoyed by mentor and antique restoration expert, Richard
Kent, who taught her hand restoration techniques that reflected her desire to
And so began her tuition.
She has restored numerous pieces for Kent and Kent Antiques, a Georgian huon
pine chest of drawers, old kitchen scales, and more. Spencer points to a coat
rack of two and a half metres as an example of pursuing a low impact approach
to what first appeared to be a straight forward restoration.
'It was a stained piece so I
hand sanded the coat rack. Everything used to be stained because everyone
wanted the colour of rich mahogany rather than pine. I always start at a medium course
grit and work my way down. I used wood glue and clamps to deal with the splits.
Nails are too violent on old dry wood. I have a gorgeous hand drill and found
screws of the same diameter. I cleaned off the hooks and coated the rack in
bees wax and buffed it all up. It ended up not so simple. What matters is
caring for the piece and respecting it,' she says.
Spencer has just the right
amount of perseverance and perspective for this work.
She is also drawing on the
craftsmanship of other Tasmanians like Taig from Wellington Steelworks.
'I needed an escutcheon that
looked like the original and he crafted one for me. It’s beautiful and barely
possible to see any difference.'
Spencer is mindful of
living gently too. She is exploring her desire to reduce her impact on the
world: sourcing clothes ethically, sustainable design and eating less meat. She
also uses 100% natural Wellington Apiary beeswax.
While Spencer’s work is
available at Kent and Kent, she is immersing herself in Restored by Hand and focusing on commissioned works.
At the December Market you
will find Restored by Hand set up
like a lounge room to showcase her work. Pieces will be available for sale, but
she is keen to provide the inspiration for your own lounge room or elsewhere. Consider
what furnishes your home and have Restored
by Hand give it new life.
The Market is located at
the Masonic Temple, 3 Sandy Bay Road on scheduled dates. You will find Restored by Hand there on their next
market on 6 December 2015, between 10 am – 3 pm.
Otherwise contact Spencer
via her webpage to commission work. And remember that while her work is done by
hand it is affordable because waxing is efficient; that’s environmentally and
A tool you’ve (probably)
never heard of, the polissoir.
Here’s our post on the
Find out more about the
Market on their Facebook page here.