I had never restored antiques, but as a ceramist, I repaired the pieces that broke during the firing process; and years before –when I painted– I had made my own wooden frames and was good at finishing them. I could always learn, I thought.
I met Boris that afternoon. He was a marvelous eccentric who had exiled from Russia fifteen years earlier, and had set up his restoration shop in mid town. He had begun empirically. Materials he had used earlier were not available in America, so he tested every epoxy in the market, and quickly became an expert restoring every surface: wood, cement, porcelain, glass, canvas and leather. Legend had it that he was the best in town. A broken glass vase from Tiffany that he had restored, was valued as pristine at Sotheby’s.
My interview was interesting. No questions were asked about my skills as a restorer, instead, Boris went on about anti-semitism, the state of affairs in Israel, how the phone company “did him racket,” and would I like to start the next day? For months, I worked long days under his wing, emerging into the streets late at night, dizzy from inhaling glue fumes, exited to be living in my dream metropolis.