Restoration of a 20 inch Nativity crib figure that was very near to becoming scrap.
This handsome figure is from a set of eleven; sadly they had been so very poorly repaired in the past, that three of them were not salvageable.
To make a good new repair, old repairs have first to be removed.
which Photos above show leg has fragments have been misaligned and fixed with glue.
The head shows a thick wad of hard glue which has built up due to being repeatedly repaired.
Clearly the repair has been inadequate, and the head has fallen off several times.
The loose head has been damaged repeatedly as a result.
The photos below show that the plaster has perished revealing old air bubbles in the original casting. The poor surface is typical of damp storage conditions.
The eye socket had been poorly repaired resulting in a loss of definition to the eyes; (see below left) and the chin - (another poor old repair), decided to " jump ship", and fall off.
Below right shows the face as it is re-built using plaster.
Once the figure was re-assembled and the missing areas re-built, and repairs complete; the shepherd figure was prepared for painting. Because the figure of Saint Joseph was to have a green cloak, the shepherd was given a shift of warm terracotta and a creamy coloured sheepskin mantle. (Below)
While professional restoration of Nativity figures gives the best results; a lot of damage can be avoided by careful handling and storage. Its best to inspect Nativity figures after display to check their condition, and if needed, have them repaired. They do get a lot of wear and tear - especially if used in schools, but regular maintenance is better than finding they are no longer displayable. Christmas is a time of wonder for children; and the school nativity set is part of the legacy of faith which we pass on to them.
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