In the eye of Juncal & Jean-Pierre Carpentier: the restoration of a majestic chandelier from the Alhambra

As a couple in the city as on the stage, passion and precision unite Juncal and Jean-Pierre Carpentier, two multi-faceted antique dealers who speak to us today of a chandelier from the Alhambra completely restored in their workshop.

Juncal & Jean-Pierre: This chandelier comes from the Alhambra, a performance hall on rue de Malte in the 11th arrondissement of Paris inaugurated in 1866, remodeled during different years to finally close in 1967. Hall which was also rebuilt in 2008, rue Yves Toudic.

Before the demolition of 1967, the furniture and the chandeliers were sold, in particular to antique dealers, and de facto dispersed all around the country. Originally, the room had, among other things, four identical balloon chandeliers; that we were able to acquire ten years ago. The chandeliers being, of course, dismantled.

Juncal: About two years ago, Jean-Pierre, who has his own restoration workshop, decided to restore one of the chandeliers: repairs the gilding, reassembles the garlands one by one, identifies the missing parts and leaves to their conquest ... In view of their imposing size, approximately 180 cm high by 140 cm in diameter, my husband renovated them one after the other, with patience and rigor. 

Jean-Pierre: The restoration process distinguishes several key stages. First, each element is completely dismantled. The gilding treatment is then required, namely: stripping, polishing, gilding then patina. And re-electrification ...

Let us not forget the most tedious: sorting crystals of various sizes, between 1 to 4cm. All disassembled and mixed together, I sorted them by decreasing size and classified. You should know that the chains of the chandelier contain approximately, depending on their size, 30 to 50 crystals. So I had to attach the crystals to each other, being careful to keep a similar distance between each, what is called the tightening of the garlands, in order to obtain chains of same size for uniform chain balloon.

Juncal: You can imagine the importance of the method! Jean-Pierre and his father have also always had the habit of collecting crystals of all styles and sizes, which today gives them an invaluable stock. If crystals are missing, he can therefore look in his workshop and, often, find the missing pieces. Beyond the challenge of renovating this chandelier, Jean-Pierre invests himself body and soul and no longer sees the days pass, I have already suggested to him to quantify his working time but he refuses it, "when we love, we don't count"

Jean-Pierre: Hunting is a great moment in the profession that I enjoy, but bringing objects back to life, giving a second life to chandeliers rich in their history, just as animates me. Over the years, the experience has caught my eye. 45 years of chandeliers have shaped my thinking and I know easily, looking at an old piece, how the chandelier is mounted. By dint of having seen hundreds of models in my workshop, I can now know if the pieces missing are part of my stock or not, most of the time... However if an element is missing, such as an arm for example, we send it to the foundry then it is reciselled in the workshop, re-gilded, re-welded and repaired so to integrate in full compliance with the other elements.

An anecdote comes to my mind.

A few years ago, I was called to the bedside of a Baccarat chandelier of about six or eight sconces with chestnut branches, including bronze tassels and chestnut leaves in molten glass. After a slight incident at the customer, some branches broke. We therefore called on Baccarat to redo the necessary pieces.The House had the capacity to produce one branch per month. The work being specific, we had to create a mold, each time, for the cast crystal, then we had to roughen etc... We needed 12 branches, unfortunately after the 5th, the manufacturer could no longer produce them due to a technical problem.

Two days later, I walk in the alleys of Paul Bert Serpette and what do I see, as if by a miracle? A chestnut acorn which seems familiar to me… Why my eyes suddenly rested on it, on that very day, I cannot explain to myself. The merchant seeing me gazing at this bronze piece tells me that he also has chestnut leaves. The magic of the Flea market operates, I was able to buy the 7 missing leaves for my chandelier. This is a model that I had never seen in my career!