Facing up to Plaster


Broken plaster nativity figure
Broken plaster nativity figure

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 great grandfather had built and painted props for the film industry, my grandfather had studied at Dublin School of Art. Classical architectural features proved a natural receptor for their talents. These skills were passed on to my dad, but he used them less and less as the age of the ornate succumbed to reductive modern tastes: polished plaster interiors absent of classical features. Plaster legacy I found that working with Plaster and clay had somehow got into my blood also; 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!


Face of broken plaster statue
Face of broken plaster statue - breaks have been painted over to hide them

Areas of overpainting removed
Areas of overpainting removed

Re-building facial features with plaster
Re-building facial features with plaster


The statue's face is repaired and ready for repainting
The statue's face is repaired and ready for repainting


Restoration of the plaster statue completed
Restoration of the plaster statue completed

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