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.
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.
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!
Follow us on
Welcome to our blog,
when posting comments our one request is that you abide by the golden rule as given in
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:
If sharing our information with others, please always include the following text:
" (c) Lewis and Lewis 2017 - www.jlewisstatues.co.uk "
No permissions given for commercial useage:
all images and information remain property of Jeanette Lewis.
See Website Terms & Conditions.