Earthwood Ltd, based in Helensville, restores furniture, from antique heritage pieces, to musical instruments such as pianos and guitars. Mark Biggelaar first opened Earthwood’s doors in October 1991, but has restored and polished furniture for 43 years.
“I learnt the trade from my father, Paul Biggelaar. He was a multi-talented craftsman who passed away last year. His passing brought into sharp relief the influence Dad had on my work and the way I work,“ says Biggelaar, “particularly his insistence on precise craftsmanship right down to the finest, tiny detail.”
Earthwood’s specialty is the restoration and repair of everyday furniture, and antiques.
Perhaps the most interesting of Biggelaar’s craft skills is his French polishing, done the old way, with exquisite results, additionally, many years of experience has also made him an expert in stain matching.
“It’s not the easiest thing to do,” he says, “but once you understand how modern stain products work, and how furniture was coloured and finished in the past, matches can be made almost perfectly, indistinguishable from the original.”
“I also do special effects which cover a myriad of possible finishes, including painting, and the application of liquid glass — a finish so glossy and impenetrable that it’s virtually permanent.”
Biggelaar and his team have been involved with challenging work over the years, including the recent repair and full restoration of heavily carved and ornate chairs made in 1580 by Dutch craftsman, Hans Vredeman de Vries. With a family crest engraved on them, they were important heirlooms and were brought back to life, keeping the original patina; revived to their original 1580 condition.
“Those are the dream jobs,” Biggelaar says, ”and they don’t come in often. Not many people have 435 year old chairs. This set had been in the owner’s family since they were made, and had passed through 17 generations. The owners were delighted with the result.”
“Other unusual restorations we’ve done include a butcher’s block made of native timbers, which had lived outside as a BBQ table, and now claims central spot in the kitchen, exactly where it should be. More often, we turn old, faded, scratched and dented dining suites, bookcases, side tables, desks and bedroom suites back into stunning pieces of pride-of-place furniture.”
Mark Biggelaar’s experience has earned him a top name in restoration work and he now picks up and delivers to Auckland twice a week.
0800 449 749