Mary and the Toothbrushes

The lesson for this post dear reader is never let your Dad get an idea in his head so he can blurt it out at the worst possible moment.

I’m repairing a statue of the Virgin Mary thanks to Dad – I know nothing about statue repair but thanks to the interwebs I’ve got some general idea of how it should work. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone based in the UK doing this so I’ve had quite a fun morning trying to translate (for want of a better term) American brand things into their English equivalent. Fun Factoid for you all: American sheetrock is English plasterboard; you learn something new everyday.

First job is to clean the statue and hope I don’t do any more serious damage, I am a little concerned the plaster will be really too old and just start coming apart. My tools for this are toothbrushes (baby, soft & medium), baby buds (normal & mini size) and an eyeliner brush and some warm soapy water. I have only vague idea how useful these things will be but ever onwards!

(And no I’m not ashamed of the caption for that last picture – I should be)

I have now gone onward and fears about plaster where unfounded, though it did absorb the water. Most useful things are eyeliner brushes and baby buds, I was correct in the surmise that they could lift off the dirt better. Although the way I found to lift off the dirt most effectively from around the beads took off not only the dirt but also the layer of paint. Toothbrushes made no impression when I tried to scrub these strange grey patches that were on the robe. But she is now much cleaner and ready for the second stage. As this goes on it gets more and more daunting, because each stage of this process means I can muck it up all the more.

Second stage requires  lacquer to create a seal against the old plaster and the new, according to what I watched this is needed to stop the water being leached out of the new plaster and making a bad bond. The video I watched had used shellac – note here readers this is not stocked by Wickes. The small hardware shop about 4 streets away did however have French Polish (contains pure shellac!). I went with that and hoped for the best.

A word to the wise DO THIS OUTSIDE – its one of the more potent polishes and really builds, I felt very sick afterwards and I only used it for about twenty minutes in small dabs on a paintbrush. But now Mary looks like she’s just been to one of those fry-up vans you find at road sides and spilt her egg and bacon sarnie all down herself.

I still have to do the chief repairs on this now – biggest of which is hiding the fact that Mary broke around her feet and was inexpertly glued back together. There are hideous solidified oozing of old brown glue all around the base and she’s missing part of her foot. Oh and a very slight nose job she’s missing a fraction out of the eight side. That’s not a nerve racking thought at all.

au revoir


P.S. Oh and this all has to be ready within a week! See never let dad’s get ideas, you’ll end up painting statues and worrying about the abrasive damage of toothbrushes!

About Gwen and Elinor

Two bloging buddies who love tea and biscuits.
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