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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Conservation - The Tale of a Broken Sculpture

Its inevitable that art will get damaged, especially when working in confined spaces. This piece was created a few years ago during my deadwood art phase. It was stored on a high shelf in the old studio and one day decided it was going to go for a walk, plummeting to the floor. Several pieces broke off and the 1 foot tile base snapped off on one end. There was little I could do for it at the time and I re-shelved it to decide later whether it was a total loss or salvageable. Now that we are in the new studio I can take some time to look over some of the damaged pieces. With this one, I examined the break points first. The breaks were clean, so I could put it back together again. But the base was a lost cause. 

Fixing a piece of broken art is very logistical. Could it be saved? In this case, rather than throw it out, or repair the damage, I decided to on a third option, to turn it into a new piece of art. The first step was to break the base up and remove any straight edges. I then chose a new base for it. In this case a heavy paving stone 4" high. The old base was glued to the new, which is what you see in the photo. Tomorrow the irregular edges of the old base will be re-clayed, removing sharp edges and making them contour to the base stone. After drying and cleaning, the whole piece will be taken back to a black matte base and I'll repaint it from scratch. I've not decided if I will keep the original color scheme or do something totally different. But the end result should be a brand new sculpture. 

Conservation work can be difficult, but it can teach you a lot about your art. In sculpture especially, it can tell you where the weak points in your work are and the strong. 


Here you see the piece after its been mounted on its new base, cleaned and black based. Its sitting on a rotating base to make it easier for its repainting. 


I chose a blue/green metallic color scheme for the repaint. This is only the first coat. It will take at least one or two more to get the depth I want out of the piece.


And here is the final sculpture. Because of the feeling of moving water on underwater reefs its been renamed "The Atlantic Rift". Its had two more coats of paint chosen from a color palate of 8 different metallic paints.  This has been overlaid with a spray polyurethane. 

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