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OBJECTS CONSERVATOR AND REGILDED SCULPTURES FROM THE JOHN BENNETT CLOCK TOWER, GREENFIELD VILLAGE, DEARBORN, MI


Dee Pipik

DEE PIPIK

Dee joined the company as a conservator’s assistant in 1995. She came with exceptional hand skills and keen artistic sensibilities. Over the years here she has drawn effectively on those skills and sensibilities to perform uncounted treatments to many objects, frames and paintings.

Dee provides all the frame restorations at McKay Lodge, Inc., a fairly regular need of its clients. This requires not only shoring up a frame’s basic construction but finding creative ways to fill in dents, nicks and other losses. Dee is particularly adept at creating the proper patina to match a frame’s age and condition.

She is an exceptional gilder and is especially skilled at invisible repairs to broken ceramics, tiles, mosaics, and terra-cotta.  Her work at creating lost mosaic tesserae by innovative technical means or just plain artistic ability is impressive.

When not working on frames or objects, she assists with the conservation of paintings and works on paper, as well as just about anything needed. Dee has more kinds of adhesives on her cart than any conservator at the company. And she is a small tool connoisseur.

One of her more amazing feats was her work on a mural by Romare Bearden removed from a concrete subway wall in Pittsburgh.  Dee operated a CNC (computer numerical controlled) concrete cutting machine to remove of 2 inches of concrete from 780 (12 in. x 12 in.) thin, glazed tiles over a period of eight months.

Perhaps Dee’s most spectacular project was her restoration of a gigantic model of New York City’s watershed. Originally created for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, the model measures an enormous 18 x 32 feet.  After its initial display it languished in storage for decades before the New York City Department of Environmental Protection contracted with McKay Lodge Inc. to return it to its original glory.  It is now displayed in the Queens Museum of Art on the world’s fair site.

Dee obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where she also minored in Art. In addition to thorough on-the-job training, Dee has attended workshops on frame conservation and gilding classes at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies (now the International Preservation Studies Center) in Mt. Carroll, Illinois. During her time here she has also broadened her knowledge by taking additional classes in chemistry and art history at local colleges.

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