An older statue may undergo a number of makeovers during its existence; some better than others. Eventually, it becomes something the artist never intended.
This statue belongs to a school, and some of its pupils may be future artists who will be inspired by the art they see. Here is an example of a four year old's interpretation of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. Look at the concern the child has captured
in Veronica's eyes, as she reaches out to a tearful Jesus.
Long faced saints
This statue of St.Chad had been repaired several times, with adverse affects to its appearance.
The shape of the chin was overly large, and the upper lip sagged.
The resulting caricature was not the sort of long face one wants to see on a Monday school morning...its possible that it had been adapted from a popular bearded saint, to a clean shaven one.
Musing on the reason for his dour expression, it was noted that the mitre was rather pinched. It appeared to have shrunk in the wash, perhaps causing the saint a headache. I pondered how the mitre could look if corrected...
The other problems included a broken crozier, and twisted arm.
The arm had been formed from a grey putty. As plaster and putty are not compatible, they would never "marry up" and the break at the elbow would be permanent if it were not removed.
I used a hack saw to remove the miscreant limb, and modeled a replacement in clay. From this I produced a plaster cast, and attached the new limb with a new internal support iron.
Completing the makeover
Once all of the "messy" repair works were complete, I was able to prep the statue in readiness for its re-decoration. The photo below shows how truncated the arm had become due to old repairs.
The mitre was remodelled to fit, and lower jaw reduced.
Early medieval Bishop vestments
Early medieval bishops would have worn a dalmatic, although these are often painted as cottas. The difference between the two, is that one will have an obvious fringing, and the latter a lace hem.
This small statue of St.Chad had the fringe with open sides, meaning he was wearing the dalmatic.
With the arm now at the correct length, I could add the dalmatic sleeve to his blessing arm, which completed the makeover.
With so much restoration work to accomplish, we occasionally take a little time out to produce a few of our own exclusive artworks and make them available for purchase. For 2019 two copies of the Risen Christ statue (sculpt and poly chromed by myself) will be available. This statue is 38 inches (97 cm) tall and cast in plaster.
It is a new edition of an earlier model.
My vision for the Risen Christ Statue
Jesus has risen from the tomb, and floats above the stony earth.
His posture is heroic, his gaze steady and re-assuring. His foot barely touches the ground. His white garments trail the ground as he ascends.
His right hand is turned in a gesture of openness, His wounds clearly visible. The fabric has loosened from his right shoulder, and a light breeze swells his mantle giving a sense of freedom and weightlessness.
His left arm appears tightly bound with fabric like the winding cloth of a shroud. He points to the wound in his side as though to say; " See and believe!"
Ordering a Copy of this statue
If you are interested in obtaining one of our "Risen Christ" statues in time for Easter of this year, orders and a deposit must be in by Candlemass - February 2nd.
We can cast our figures to order by special request, (at any time of year) - a lead time of two months is required for the casting and polychroming of one of our unique figures. Please contact us for further details.
(Easter Sunday 2019 is on the 21st of April.)
Days before we closed for Christmas break, I visited a church to refurbish the carved symbols on the altar. These were of the alpha and omega, with a Pelican in the centre, feeding its young.
The Carving of the Pelican was looking rather dull. It was lost in a sea of beautiful deep green marble. The story it was meant to tell had become unreadable.
The P.P. wanted to revive that story, so that he could better explain the Eucharist to the children.
The story goes something like this:
In medieval times, it was thought that the Pelican preened feathers from her breast until it bled. With her own blood, she fed her young chicks to ensure their survival.
The Pelican became a symbol of the Eucharist; Christ feeding the faithful with His own body and blood.
I might add to the story by saying "Strengthened and matured, the young birds find that they have the strength to leave the earthly nest and soar heavenward."
The source of this legend has been lost in time, yet it gave rise to the intriguing Catholic symbol we see in our churches today.
Earlier this year I completed a commission from Fr. H to make a 44 inch statue of St.Catherine for his parish. Revd. H sent me some images of his ideal "Catherine" and how the finished statue might look. The range of images were eclectic in style. Some very simple and others highly decorated. From these we extracted which elements of the figure design were essential, and which could be achieved in practical terms.
To create the figure I used water based clay which I find more responsive to the touch than the less traditional plastilene (plasticene -type) modelling materials.
The following images show some of the stages in producing the figure
Designing the figure.
Sketches are an important part of helping the client see how the sculpture may look when finished. This older statue of St.Catherine shows how the proportions of the wheel had to change in order to make sense in three dimensions. (Note: The sword for this statue is missing.) To the right is a sketch combining elements of the flat back, and my interpretation of St. Catherine.
Building the figure Support
To support the weight of clay used to build the figure, David constructed a rotating platform and scaffolding jig. This would hold the armature which has to be shaped to fit the pose of the figure. It has to be strong enough to support the clay, in this case around 50 + kilos.
Modelling St. Catherine's face
Its helpful to have a live model from which to make notes when planning to sculpt a figure. Yet an artist will not always copy this slavishly, consideration is given to creating a more pleasing shape than would appear in reality. In the same way a portrait artist, may strive to bring out his subjects "best" features.
The head is sculpted separately, and added to the torso.
Moulding and casting
Once the clay model was completed, we made a mould for the figure.
and separate moulds for the hands, crown and dove. These were cast seperately and attached later to the plaster cast.
Once the plaster was fully dry, polychroming could begin.
Consideration was given to the colours of the clothing, the detail of the cloak clasp, and the dove. Fr. H asked that the dove be coloured like that of an African species which would have populated the Jordan in biblical times. The complexion, eye and hair colour were matched to that of his beloved granddaughter. Finally, the statue was complete and ready to display for the feast of St.Catherine on 25th of November.
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Bar Convent Madonna
Manchester Oratory (1)
Gilbert Scott Reredos (1)
Symbol of Pelican
Our Lady of Walsingham symbolism
Sculpting Mary's hand
Sculpting the Madonna
Sculpture of Risen Christ
Sculpting St. Catherine
Plaster corpus restored
Family nativity set
Nativity shepherd & flute
School "Fatima" statue
Five new Icons
English Martyrs Mural
Processional for May
St. Anthony's book & Bread
Catholic statue repair & church artworks by Lewis and Lewis:
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