Attending Neville’s French polishing workshops

Margot kindly wrote me a testimonial. Thank you.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to one of Neville’s French polishing classes. It started about 25 years ago when Neville was running a weekend workshop for Colac CAE. I had a tired old second-hand blackwood table that needed some TLC, so I enrolled. After the two days I came away with a revived and beautiful piece of furniture plus a new passion that I’ve enjoyed ever since.

In Neville’s workshops, you get to work immediately, cleaning your piece of furniture, filling cracks, removing marks left by burns, water or other spillages, sanding and then finally when he is satisfied with the timber’s surface, applying the French polish. Along the way you learn from a master about the history of furniture design and production, about timbers and techniques used for specific purposes and many other things you never knew you needed to know.

This passion has enabled me to visit antique shops, second-hand stores and op shops around the country. I’ve restored many old pieces often in one of Neville’s workshops. These pieces mostly end up with my long suffering family – tables, chests of drawers, an antique writing box, several old chests (two ornately decorated with metalwork and one probably Javanese with a design in mother-of-pearl).

I still go to Neville’s workshops whenever I can because I learn so much from him and because I know the finished work will be much better than I can achieve by myself. And from a purely economic perspective, any piece whose restoration he has supervised will increase in value far more than the cost of the workshop.

Margot Fitzpatrick

July 2016