Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Abigail to the rescue

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Okay, even with a number of 2D digital images of the same woman, it is still hard to visualize the 3D shapes. You don’t have a real object that you can move around to where you need to see. I realized I had a perfect model laying around the house that I had picked up a few years ago at a sale for $2 – a “Cameo Girl” Lady Head Vase of Abigail from 1858. This particular praying Abigail is entitled “Amazing Grace.” [I like the way women used to look before blue jeans and t-shirts, and other blah modern clothes.]

Auray head 4

Abigail has volunteered to pose for me and pray for the outcome

The interesting thing about this vase is that the head is about exactly the size of the head I’m trying to create on my hurdy-gurdy!  It might be easier to just figure out a way to attach it to my peghead — ha!

So, I definitely have no excuse as far as a suitable model to give me the best shot at reproducing a decent face.

The Angelus — completed

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I left the statue alone while we were out of town for 10 days for the glue to cure, and now it is up on the bookshelf, hopefully out of the reach of the cat!


The homme will probably never get a new hat in my lifetime, or at least not until after I finish my hurdy-gurdy!

Before the trip, I got a new miter box to cut the key buttons to length. My old one’s slot is too worn to give a good vertical cut anymore. So, that’s what will be coming up next.

I’ve also got hundreds of old family slides and photos to scan!

The Angelus — glued together

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

While at Michaels looking for a miter box to cut the hurdy-gurdy key buttons to length, I ran across some Elmer’s China + Glass Cement. So, I got that for gluing the base together. It says it dries clear and gives one minute of set time. Dishwashable when done, not that I’m going to do that, but I thought that sounded like a strong, durable joint.


Sculpture glued together and drying — will it hold?

No telling how well it worked. It takes a couple days to achieve full strength. I think I’ll leave it alone, then. After holding it with pressure for several minutes, it didn’t seem to be bonded. I hope there was still enough wet glue to hold it once I decided to just set it down and let it dry. I didn’t want too much glue so that it oozed out everywhere. It didn’t, thankfully. Seemed like I had enough on there, but not sure how it will bond if the porcelain pieces aren’t in tight contact against each other.

I really would hate to have to clean the glue joints and glue it again – with something else. The Elmer’s packaging doesn’t even say how to remove it! Apparently not with warm water, if you can put it in the dishwasher. I hope I’m done with it.

[The last little flake of porcelain I finally figured out went on the bottom of the outer leg of the wheelbarrow, along the break. I put that on before gluing the halves together.]

The Angelus — update

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

The femme half is still draining a few drops of water from a pinhole under the potato sacks on the wheelbarrow. This is in an area that I needed to re-attach a broken chunk of the base. I left it lying down overnight, so that area would be dry. Then I glued on the piece today.


Base edge piece was removed, cleaned and reglued

I did a dry fit of the two halves of the sculpture for the first time since taking on the project. I don’t think it will be a seamless join, due to the complexity of the break. Also, two pieces have been glued in along that edge, which cannot be glued in exactly the way they were originally.

I’m worried about using super glue. I don’t think I could get it put all along the edge and then attach it before the glue I first applied had dried out. Might have to use epoxy? It is thicker, but gives me five minutes. I expect the epoxy would show more, if any squeezed out.

When it appears the dripping is done, I can proceed. The pieces will have to be glued upright, which is the position that causes drainage, and I can’t have that along the fresh glue joint.


The anxious couple awaiting the day that has been decades in coming

The Angelus — l’homme

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Last night I glued on the three surviving pieces of the homme’s hands and one sliver from along the base, using Loctite super glue. So, he’s all done now.


The homme checking out his clean, reattached hands

It would be nice to carve him a new hat someday and try to paint it the color of the porcelain, but that’s not going to be any time soon, if ever. At least he’s got arms — and clothes, which is more than I can say about the Venus de Milo.


Before and after views of the hands

The femme is still draining some water near where  a piece of the base needs attaching. After doing that, the final step will be gluing the couple back together.

The Angelus

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I always liked the 1857-59 painting by French artist Jean-François Millet called “The Angelus.” It shows a peasant couple stopping their potato harvesting to pray when the church bells ring at the appointed hour.


My antique postcard of The Angelus by Jean-François Millet

In addition to the simplicity of it, it shows the custom considered quaint today of the man praying with his head uncovered, and the woman praying with her head covered, as specified in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 11. The man has removed his hat to pray.

My grandmother had a porcelain sculpture of this painting in her Dining Room when I was little. It turned up in a box of my Dad’s things from his attic, broken in half and badly stained by age and a couple poor glue attempts. The man’s hat has also been lost, despite having been glued in the past.


Sculpture in its found damaged condition

The sculpture is French, as it says “L’Angelus d’après Millet” on the base. It could have been my great-grandmother’s, who was from Europe. I don’t know.


Old glue along crack of the base on the femme side of the sculpture

I decided, instead of trashing it, to take it on as a restoration challenge, to see how much I could clean it up. Miraculously, the delicate basket and wheelbarrow were undamaged, despite the whole thing being broken in half under its handles. The whole femme side of the sculpture was unscathed, with the main problem there being the remnants of orange-brown glue along the base fracture.


The homme with broken hands, missing hat and orange and shiny glues

The homme was a different story. Because of his hat and hands having broken off, he suffered several distressing glue attempts, with both an old orange glue, and a clear super glue. The super glue ran in rivulets down both legs, and collected around his arms, coat hem, ankles, shoes and potato sack. Because the porcelain is unglazed with a flat finish, the shiny glue was very visible everywhere.

The first question was: Could the old orange glue be removed from the crack edges of the thick base by soaking in warm water? Yes, it actually came off very cleanly with careful scraping using an X-acto knife.


The femme's base cleaned of orange glue

Question number two: What about the clear glue, would fingernail polish remover with acetone take it off? I suppose it helped. This superglue was much harder to remove, not only because it was in crevices everywhere, but because it had adhered better. But scraping and chipping with an X-acto knife after applying acetone, it slowly was removed with no damage to the porcelain surface, even when sparks were sometimes created!

Now for the hands — some delicate pieces there, and really globbed up with both kinds of glue, including hollows inside the pieces. It was tedious, but the operation to remove the three glued pieces of the hands was successful.


The femme praying for her homme's successful operation

All the little pieces cleaned up well, too. That is good news, as they should fit much better now and the seams be much more invisible.


The homme finally free of his humiliating glue problems

Next issue was the light brownish age staining. What about denture cleaner? I got the cheapest the grocery store had, a 90-tablet pack of Efferdent. You put one in a glass with your teeth, but how many for a plastic kitchen washtub filled about 5 inches deep? I went with 36. Did that twice, leaving overnight each time. The femme liked to float, so she was weighted down with a wet wash-cloth.


The homme and femme enjoying one of their Efferdent baths

I used the remaining 18 tablets this evening with less water, focusing mostly on the bases, where most of the discoloration was. I’ll take them out in the morning, and let everything dry well for several days before trying to glue it all back together.



French hurdy-gurdy stamp

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

FrenchStampHere is a pre-cancelled French stamp I recently found showing a “veille.” The colors are a little gaudy, but otherwise it is a nice image. I believe it was one of a series of stamps featuring musical instruments.

Builder’s label

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I was working on a label design at lunch today. I thought a repetition of the Breton ermine symbol would make a good border. Some lines are included, because the flag of Brittany also has black and white stripes. I was going to print this on parchment-like paper, but decided it needed to be in black and white, like the ermine.


Shown larger than actual size

Hurdy-gurdy Girl

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

HurdyGurdyGirl-JulesRichommeWith all due respect to Georges de La Tour, I like Jules Richomme’s choice of a hurdy-gurdy player better. Both are excellent works of art, though, and two of my favorites. This one here I have only recently discovered, and consider it one of the nicest paintings featuring a hurdy-gurdy I have run across thus far.

By the way, my instrument should look a lot like this one, with a guitar-shaped body and carved peghead. I hope to also add similar trim inlay around the edge.


It’s all Georges’ fault

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Georges de La Tour, that is.

Hurdy-Gurdy-PlayerFrom February 2 – May 11, 1997, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas had an exhibit entitled Georges de La Tour and his world. I went to the exhibit and enjoyed it very much. One of my favorites was definitely The Hurdy-gurdy Player 1631-36. Amazing detail: cotton on the strings, paper shims on the bridge. I was vaguely aware of what a hurdy-gurdy was, but this painting made me want to learn more about them, and how they worked. One or two other paintings had glimpses of hurdy-gurdies.

It is no coincidence that a year later I had completed my own simple hurdy-gurdy!