Ottmar Alois Umhofer was born in 1939 in Heimbuchanthal, Germany, in Bavaria. He was a young boy during World War II and still fondly recalls American soldiers giving him his first orange and banana. His mother was widowed when he was 5 years old.Knowing what an extremely curious lad he was, she allowed him to roam throughout the small village where they lived. His route took him to all the village trade shops.As a result, he was able to learn from the Masters. The Leather-maker, Shoemaker,Bookbinder, Milliner, and Brewer taught how things were made from scratch. He befriended a Blacksmith and Druggist who recognized his bright mind and they provided knowledge he still uses today in his craft. Druggists in those days were chemists who used herbs and chemicals to produce oil paints, cosmetics, candy, soaps and medicines for humans as well as animals. He still uses the books bequeathed to him by the Druggist to make his specially formulated finishes.After a few years as a postman, Ottmar enlisted in the army at age 21. After 6 years,he joined forces with his new father-in-law to manage an antique furniture store. There he perfected the art of restoring fine antiques while drawing upon further knowledge of Master Furniture makers with shops nearby.
With his three daughters all grown, Ottmar moved to the United States at age 48 to
start a new life and to establish an Antique Restoration Business. There he met his wife
through “Perfect Strings”, a KDFC write-in radio singles group. (This is before “dot .com”
time.) He was captivated by a woman who shared his deep love of nature and opera.
After a full page article in the Mercury News, people began to come into his workshop
and entrust their unique antiques to him. For over 25 years, Ottmar has been
painstakingly repairing, refinishing and restoring tables, chairs and a myriad of
interesting pieces such as wooden statues complete with old worm holes, the rare
astronomical clock nearly destroyed in the 1989 SF Earthquake, the carved dowry chest
from the 1500’s and countless secretaries with their hidden drawers and compartments.
Ottmar brought from Germany over 10 tons of machinery, tools and old parts useful for
his work. A piece of crystal for a chandelier, old skeleton keys, brass cover plates for
drawers etc. are among his stash. If he doesn’t have the part, he can readily make it
from scratch and you won’t be able to tell it’s new.
Such is the work of a Conservator. Restore, not redo to look new. He hopes you enjoy
the before and after photos depicting some of his work.
If you have worked with Ottmar and would like to recommend him on LinkedIn, connect with him here.