• Jeanette Lewis

Angels get their wings

Updated: Sep 6


We followed Father's car in our van from one side of the city to the other, arriving at a place where all the injured statues go.

We had come to visit an ancient Bishop, who had once watched parishioners come and go for over a hundred years, from the lofty rafters of his gothic revival church. After the church's closure he had been "preserved" in a cellar.

A damp cellar. Having examined the venerable patient, the prognosis was not favourable. The damp had irreprably damaged the wood. The Bishop was but a shadow of his former self, no thanks to the infestation of woodworms who would sadly miss the passing of their chosen restaurant.


Angel icing

As we were leaving Father noticed two angels. They were beautifully carved to resemble those we see in the margins of illuminated manuscripts. It seemed they had been waiting patiently with clasped hands for someone to repair them.


A coating of thick white paint covered their broken features. Their original wings had been replaced with two pieces of roughly cut wood which had now split beyond repair. Feathers had been piped in bathroom silicone in a conceptual sort of way, that resembled melted icing.



Unappetising iced angel wings.
Unappetising iced wings.

Wings take flight


Birds have massive pectoral muscles for their size. If you enjoy a roast goose or duck breast you will know what I mean. Wings in flight are graceful and swift, held aloft by air currents. ( I avoided saying Currants, as I have already used too many food similies in my post, even though I have finished my lunch!) Balancing the weight of the wings is an important consideration when confronted with wing repairs. Being spirits, Angels don't have the same musculature as birds.


As the old wings were a little stubby, I wanted the new wings to appear as though the angels had gracefully alighted onto their sanctuary plinths. A mystic once described that before Mass begins, holy angels "fly about" looking to give graces to the souls who are open to receiving them. I don't know if this is so, but I should like to think it is. Its a thought that helps me to leave the world behind when I enter the church and ponder instead upon being in a place where earth and heaven truly connects.


Sketch for new angel wings
Sketch for new angel wings

To the left are some sketches in preparation for modelling the new wings shown below. The styling of the feathers has to be appropriate for that of the figures or they will not appear authentic.


Bespoke Angels

Once the statues themselves are repaired, we can offer up the new wings for fitting. Most of our work is bespoke/one off, no two jobs seem alike.

For this part of my post, it's over to David - he makes the moulds and casts the parts and all the other technical stuff, including how to attach the wings!

Below are the two angels fully restored, pictured in my garden. Father wanted pastel shades for the angels, so the decoration on the dalmatics is subdued. The wings are actually a shade of white, turquoise and cream.


Angels Installed


Courtesy of my teenage son's mobile phone; the angels are installed either side of the sanctuary. Now aren't they just asking for a little painted arched doorway so as a to show off those new wings...?


To the right of the scaffold is the statue of the virgin and child (click to enlarge) we restored some months ago.

Sanctuary angels restored and installed
Sanctuary angels restored and installed

My Next Post: Cancel culture crushed: a neo-Gothic Virgin



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