Saturday, November 25, 2006

Just Picking Away But It Ain't No Picnic


My ex-wife Claudia specializes in the restoration of antique (and contemporary too, at times) porcelain. Figurines, vases, lamps, all sorts of decorative pieces. You break it she can fix it. You'll never see where the breaks were when she's through gluing, filling, and sanding followed by airbrushing with lacquer, and the fine details added with a tiny brush. She's great at matching colors. If a small piece, a hand for instance, is missing, no problem. She's got a library full of books to find out exactly what the missing hand looks like and she'll recreate one.

She uses a variety of dental materials for making molds and needed pieces, the same way your dentist makes bridge work and false teeth. Going to the dentist with her is a trip! She and Howard comparing notes, talking about the latest materials and techniques, like she too was a dentist...LOL. Howard is probably a better dentist because of some of the techniques she's taught him over the years.

Usually really old pieces that break also have old repairs, having been broken and fixed before. Claudia likes to get all the old glue, paint, whatever, off of the piece and start fresh. Otherwise you risk getting a reaction between the old and the new, the glue and the paint, which just makes for frustration and more work. I've known Claudia for about twenty five years now, and although we've been divorced for perhaps fifteen years we've remained good friends. While we were together she taught me the secrets of getting the old glue and paint crud off so she would be able to put it back together properly. Now she still calls me up on occasion when she's backed up with work, and I take an X-acto knife, cotton swabs, an assortment of dental picks, and I usually work outside in her back yard so that I'm not breathing so much of the solvent fumes. This is the broken base of a large urn that had been soaking in solvent for about a week. I was able to break it apart on the old softened glue line. Here I'm picking the old glue off of the break, scraping with the tip of the knife. Claudia always makes sure that there's plenty of coffee on hand, and after I play with her dogs for a few minutes I get to work. Yes, she pays me!

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