Friday, January 14, 2011

Sculpture and Restoration

Like medicine, architectural restoration begins with "First, Do no harm." But things get muddy pretty fast after that. We'd like to believe that the work of earlier craftsmen is better than today's craftsmen, but that's not always true. 

This capital is wildly irregular. Its measurements and symmetry are off by inches. It's obvious to replace missing parts, but does one correct other flaws?

The answer is NO! That's not in the budget. 

Instead I clean up all the surfaces and forms. That means adding oil clay to fill in missing sections, and using my carving tools to cut through the paint and plaster to clean up the through lines of the acanthus leaves. The goal is to make everything blend together again.

Original damaged pilaster capital

So the original artwork is modified with oil clay, and carving to reform the surfaces. After each day's work, it's spray painted with a white primer to visually unify all the surfaces. That makes for a very funky working surface, but without that whitewashing even the folks who work on it, (Me) cant  understand what we're looking at. 
It's all about figure/ground relationships.
Corner capital made from two matched and tooled parts ready for molding.


Theresa Cheek said...

..oil clay? ( my eybrow arched in curiousity) This is new to me. Must check it out. It would never do for us to work together as we are "tedium driven" .. I like the idea of spraying it each day with primer to see "where you are"

Patrick Gracewood said...

People don't understand when I say water clay either. It's the difference between using a water based clay, anything that would be used for ceramics VS oil based clay that doesn't dry out or shrink, such as Plasticine.
I much prefer water clay as it's fast and doesn't smell. I've been poisoned several times from overdosing from boiling oil clay... It's gotten so that I hate the smell of it.

Tedium Driven? explain please? What art form isn't tedium driven...?

kara rane said...

totally fascinating. & I know exactly what you mean by being "poisoned" by materials. After working years in paint etc..studios, I can no longer be near harmful fumes. My tolerance is zero. My own studio is without these toxins, but when I visit other studios, hardware stores or any place laquer, varnish, glass etching etc.. are being used it is like a giant invisible jellyfish, highly toxic, and once stung you can't help but see and feel it.

Theresa Cheek said...

Ahhh...understand the difference in clays now. By tedium driven, I mean that we are both so detail oriented, it would be months before a process was finished.I admit, I enjoy the process so much, that I prolong the finish as long as I can. I own the process, the client owns the product.

Patrick Gracewood said...

Theresa, Now I understand. The art is what we do, the artifact is what we're done with!