Local 706 - The Artisan

Winter 2019

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/1076112

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Page 38 of 47

THE ARTISAN WINTER 2019 • 39 make-up case range was phased out long ago, the Gerstner case has seen a remarkable revival. H. Gerstner & Sons in Dayton, Ohio, have been mak- ing fine wood products and tool chests since 1906, with cases designed for machinists, dentists, fishermen and various hobbyists, and they still continue strong to this day. Gerstner President Scott Campbell remembers that the make-up case range came together decades ago, peaking from the 1970s until the late 1990s catalogues, with models sold at places like Frends and Naimie's. Getting a proper case for your kit was a right of passage for many of our Guild mem- bers, many of whom still keep them safely tucked away. By the turn of the millennium, the popularity of the Gerstner make-up case had waned, as cheaper alternatives developed and products in kits increased, requiring lighter set bags and carrying options. Remaining stocks cleared and the cases became history of a bygone era. Or had they? Several years ago, I picked up one if these cases at a garage sale. While the Gerstner catalogue once listed it as a BK310, it was the largest of the make-up case range and was often referred to as the Max Factor or journeyman case. It was in bad shape, missing pieces, and in need of repair, but I thought there was life left in it with a bit of effort. The owner wanted $20 for it, but I gave him $50, know- ing there was more value here. Over the next week, I opted to strip the case and disassemble it completely, rebuilding it from the ground up. I ordered some replacement parts off the Gerstner website, and with the help of some video tutorials on the same site, I was able to recover the wood in leatherette, put in new rivets and screws, and add new felt, elastic and mirror. A good polish with some orange oil, and the case was ready to go to set once again. Easier said than done, but I'd been bitten by the restoration bug, and found a hobby that's kept me busy. I found a few more to restore through estate sales and online auctions. Word spread and I was contacted by several 706 members looking to see their old cases look new again. Some were only in need of a pol- ish, some were a pile of tinder. But with some patience and tinkering, all were brought back into service. If your performer has worn custom contact lenses, you've undoubtedly worked with Cristina Patterson, one of the industry 's best lens painters and technicians. Her mother carried a BK310 back in the 1960s and Cristina wanted it restored, despite its colorful repaint and repurposing as a jewelry box. When I returned it to her re-built, re-covered and restored, the result was dramatic, and her tears of joy said it all. There's was some magic to seeing it factory-fresh again. I've restored the same model now for several artists, including Suzy Diaz and Ralis Kahn. And when we found out Hugo Villasenor always wanted one, Ralis and I planned a custom one for him as a wrap gift. Ralis had been given a case that once belonged to Michael Mosher, and trusted me to tailor it to Hugo's style. The exterior was re-covered

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