Facing up to Plaster
Art and ancestors My dad didn't want me to work with plaster as he had done. He said it was messy and dusty and he wanted something better for his artistic daughter. He would buy all manner of paints, pencils, brushes and canvasses to encourage me in building my skills. He understood the artistic nature as his ancestors had a variety of artistic talents. ; But whereas other family members were blessed with gifts of music and literature; It seems I was destined to wear an overall rather than any kind of formal attire.
Passing on skills My dad's grandfather had built props for the film industry, and dad's father had studied at Dublin School of Art. With the advent of elaborate "picture houses", theatres and dance halls, the art of sculpting classical architectural features proved a natural receptor for their talents. These skills were passed on to my dad by his father, but he used them less and less as the age of the ornate succumbed to reductive modern tastes. Eventually they became almost obsolete as the demand for featureless polished plaster walls and interiors increased. Plaster legacy Despite dad trying to direct my "talents" into more genteel forms of art, I found that working with Plaster had somehow got into my blood; watching dad work with the stuff had given me an innate understanding of its unique properties and how to handle it. Unlike Porcelain figurine repairs, which use small neat amounts of modelling pastes to fill breaks, plaster statue repair is rather a messy affair. To illustrate this, I have posted some stages of repairing a nativity shepherd with a broken face. The physical demands of working in building sites in all weathers finally took its toll on dad's health. In his retirement years he became a church deacon. I didn't start this type of work in earnest until my dad had gone to his reward, yet I dare say that as it requires both a lot of plaster and a measure of faith, I'm sure he would have happily approved!