Craftmanship: Restorer in Berlin

Varnish from lice, glue from bones, and admixtures from amber: The liquids in pots and crucibles in Manfred Sturm-Larondelle’s workshop seem from another time. And yet they are the basis of authentic, sustainable and reversible restoration. The master craftsman opens the door to his manufactory in the historic wheelwright’s workshop on the Domäne Dahlem in Berlin/Germany, the land of a former knight’s estate that has been used for agriculture for more than 800 years.

The Hamburg native, who has been restoring furniture in Berlin since 1978, has dedicated his entire life to what now is called “sustainable.” After refurbishing damaged areas of the 1850s mahogany table and assembling the various elements with a paste of bone glue, fish glue and garlic, Sturm-Larondelle polishes the tabletop to a high shine.

The resinous substance is gradually applied by the certified restorer, in many layers. Again a fine intermediate sanding and again another shellac layer. About 120 layers are needed for this mahogany table. Only when the polish is perfect and his smile is reflected in it is he satisfied.