This photo is of an angelic figure, that I purchased a few months ago at a garage sale. There’s not a lot to do in the town I live, so I embraced “art restoration” about ten years ago. It was born out of frustration, because when I was first buying antiques, I could only afford the busted, broken, or tragically tattered ones. I learn to epoxy, sand, carve, paint and re-design some of the odd-looking things I’d find at flea markets, swap meets and garage sales. With time, I got to be very good at hiding blemishes, breaks, and chips.
When I first bought the above mentioned angel, it was a mess. The nose was broken off, and someone applied a sloppy amount of paint to hide the fact. My husband took one look at the angel, and thought I’d made one of the worst mistakes of my life. He didn’t say much, but I knew what he was thinking. I’m sure he thought my project was destined for the dumpster. I had the same thought myself, when I first eyed the very worn and weary looking cherub.
As soon as I got “Angelo” home, I started to work. (I felt the name Angelo was rather appropriate.) As I started to sand off layers of plaster, I realised, he was not a plaster mold, but a hand carved angel with a coat of jesso on his surface. He is at least two hundred years old, that is why he had sustained so many of his disfiguring breaks and chips. I delicately re-built the nose, resurfaced the face, and within a few hours started to bring new life back to his lovely face. If you saw what he looked like before the restoration, you probably would not think it was the same piece of art. I was blessed to find him, and was ecstatic when he was finished. I’m an O.K. carver, but whoever worked to create the original was a “Master Carver”. To be as good as this artist, you probably grew up carving wood, and back then, they were apprenticed as children to work with “Master Carvers”. By the time they grew up, they were masters of the craft.
Restoration is something I never thought I would be doing. It is a path I ventured on, quite by accident. Since I’m a wood-carver, I enjoy looking for beat up carvings. If I can get them inexpensively, I buy them, work on them, and give them a nice home. It’s a hobby that takes a good eye, time and plenty of patience. In the long run, I’d have to say it’s one of the most worthwhile things I’ve learned to do.