~ another project restoring an old plaster crucifix ~

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Always on the look out for discarded or unwanted religious & ecclesial artworks, icons, statuary, pictures & so forth & I came across this vintage plaster crucifix.  The cross measures 1200 (4′) from top to bottom while the rather brittle & fragile plaster Jesus measures 600 (2′) from head to toe.

While I like repairing, re-doing & re-painting old items I haven’t done plaster statuary repair or restoration as needed by this old piece.

I’ve done plenty of small repair jobs & have no problem painting/re-painting statuary.  But I haven’t attempted a job of this size.

It’ll be somewhat tricky I know but that doesn’t phase me.

 

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Being old, plaster & fragile, I’ve had it stashed away, on the floor, under a bed mainly because it best fitted there & was safely hidden from prying eyes & touchy, playful fingers.

I’ve had a few years now to contemplate this original old religious beauty.

I’ve mulled over whether to take it to somebody who does this sort of antique plaster repair routinely or do it myself.

I’ve decided it’s a project I should tackle, hopefully, sooner than later.

 

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Basically the crucifix requires repair in 3 parts:  1. the right arm 2. the left ankle, heel & foot & 3. some minor work on the toes & toe nails of the right foot.

The crucifix came to me as you see it other than under the right arm (above) which was broken almost to the wrist.  Fortunately, the previous owner saved a big chunk of the plaster under arm which I have already re-attached.

 

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You can see the attached plaster piece runs from Jesus’ under-arm before the elbow & ends at the wrist.  You can see the 2 original (now rusty) thick metal rods or wires use to re-enforce the plaster arm.

I will have to fill/re-construct the missing chunk of arm. Basically I’m gonna have to build it up with appropriate plaster or putty filling in around the arm & old wire rod.

Once that’s done I will sand smooth & fine & colour & paint it to blend in with the rest of the plaster body.

 

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The other major break is the left foot.

 

Both breaks (jobs 1 & 2) will require finesse in the build up with plaster, layer by layer.

 

The left foot (job 2) will be the trickiest repair.  There is not likely to be a suitable foot mould around so I’m gonna have to replicate the general style & size of the right foot & ankle & make it (the left foot) fit snug under & behind that foot.

 

I foresee the need for a tool, a dremel tool perhaps for drilling a hole or two up into the left ankle/calf into which I can insert some sort of stainless steel wire or rod reinforcement, loop it, then build up layers of plaster around it, shape the foot & toes so it rests under/behind the right foot then smooth & sand further.  I don’t see any other way to do it.

 

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Basically, it’s the right arm & left foot that require the most work.

 

Patching & building up the toes & painting them on the right foot (job 3) is a small job compared to jobs 1 & 2.

 

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I’ll be looking to use materials, some of which I have, like gesso, paper mache glue, plaster of Paris, air dry clay & cement & so forth.

 

The rest of the plaster body is in pretty good condition considering its age, size & shape.  The other minor chips & cracks I can easily fill, seal & re-paint to match the original.

 

Basically I have to fill in, shape & mould so that when sanded smooth, the repairs won’t be noticeable & I can paint them to blend in with the original plaster Jesus.

 

We’ll see.

Has anybody done a similar repair?

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