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.
.Masking tape covered the break in this shepherds neck. When it was removed, I could see that the neck had been misaligned at some time in the past.
realignment of the broken neck showed that the area to be repaired and filled were greater than first appeared. Support wires which should have been deeply embedded, were protruding through the surface.
From the reverse view, the neck and head had been poorly modeled; giving a " lollipop" appearance. As a consequence of the narrow neck, the head was also too narrow; improving the appearance would be somewhat limited. The average human head weighs around 5kg, and we have large muscle groups to support it. (as shown)
Re-modelling the shepherd's neck
What had begun as a straightforward repair became more of a re-model.
I decided to thicken the neck to make it look more natural, and add further supporting irons. This made the neck area stronger against future wear and tear, and make the statue more durable for my clients.
With the right hand side of the neck corrected, the head needed a new ear to finish the job! As the modelling on the hands were simply done, I kept the modelling of the ear to the same style.
Below; The restored nativity shepherd admires his new neck and ear!
The head teacher of St.Patrick's catholic school asked if we could restore the crumbling statue which had once stood outside the building.
It wasn't until all the old paint had been removed that we could determine what it was made of. What remained of the statue was very heavy, and for the most part, it appeared to be a finely cast cementitious substrate.
(Too many Guinness, and the words "finely cast cementitious substrate" can be quite a tongue twister - not that I have tried it of course!)
The statue had been repaired so many times, that he was no longer able to withstand the rigours of the outdoors.
I remembered the days of school masses at my Parish, when we would sing on the feast of St. Patrick,
"Hail glorious saint Patrick dear saint of our isle, On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile...on Erin's green valleys look down in thy love!"
Even though Liverpool is many miles away from Erin, it didn't seem to matter. The Irish priests who had served the people of Liverpool for centuries, and those of Irish descent sang with such gusto, as to shake the rafters.
It made me feel like St. Patrick was very "Glorious" saint-wise indeed.
With those happy memories in mind, I hoped to pass on some of that enthusiasm to the children of St. Patrick's in Thornaby.
David re-assembled the statue, and repaired it, then he carved the new crosier head, (whilst I created a replica head for one of the snakes.)
Finally, I got to paint him, shamrocks and all - well if you are going to teach the children about the trinity, these details are significant - (even though we decided against putting one in the centre of the crosier.)
It was exciting to see the face which had been hidden for so many years; St. Patrick is looking is "glorious" once again.
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