The Bambino from the crib set of the church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Wigan is restored.
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.
Above: Damaged processional statue after restoration .
A recent request to restore a statue of Our lady for a May procession, proved a bit more of a challenge than usual. The face had lost its shape beneath layers of paint. The broken hands sported broken thumbs which had been replaced with "plaster sausages."
The lining on the mantle was textured with old repairs resembling a gold-painted rock fall.
The condition of this statue was rather poor, considering it for a decent burial seemed the kindest thing to do. However, the statue held memories for a number of parishioners, and so we did all we could to save it.
In this particular case, old paint had to be removed to reveal the true nature and extent of any damage. This would ensure that repairs would be sound and thorough. The inner walls were strengthened and her face remodeled along with her thumbs.
After many hours work, the statue looks good again, the surface of the gold mantle is smooth and her face pretty again -she will serve as a processional statue few more years yet!
Left: plastering over old paint makes for a poor repair, with low adhesion. It has made the thumb too large for the hand.
A section of the statue wall, compared with a two pound coin.
Reverse of the statue shows the split in thin plaster wall, and damage to the hands
A cracked neck suggested that the face may have been damaged when the head had fallen off at an earlier date. Nose, mouth and eyelids had to be rebuilt.
This 40 inch plaster nativity set needed some TLC. It had become rather grubby and damaged with years of handling.
As work began, we found a number of " shortcuts" had been taken in the past. The ends of this shepherds, bagpipes had broken, and the remaining stub painted over. The pipes were rather truncated and needed to be rebuilt.
So here are three stages of my re-building the missing "chanters" or pipes.
(fig 1.) the proposed correction far left,
(fig 2.) Supports fitted to rebuild the mouth of chanters and fingers,
(fig 3.) Shaping the fingers to match the originals.
Partial restoration requires that the restorer has to prioritise which areas need her attention most. Old repairs even if unsightly or poorly modeled, sometimes have to remain if they are sound.
However, this king's crown was too prominent a feature to over look.
Just as the bag pipes, the central point was broken and over painted in an attempt to disguise the break. It spoiled the king's regal appearance, and was a definite candidate for renewal!
So here are the stages of correcting the old repair;- I'm sure you will agree that the appearance is much improved.
And so, let us return to the "pipe-less" shepherd...
With the missing chanters re-built, The shepherd definitely appears to be playing a musical instrument - and not sucking orange juice through a large straw.
The following images show the areas which were missing, and the completed repairs.
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