Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 DAYS of SANTA CLAUS Day 14 What to Do With Broken Santas

Today I received another broken Santa from an eBay purchase.

This is my THIRD purchase to arrive damaged during shipping.  The woman who packaged him did not bother to wrap him or the other Santas he came with, but I am grateful it was only this one.

If you've read my previous blogs, you'll recall that my first to arrive in pieces was the Costanza Santa that I was so looking forward to adding to my collection.

He arrived with his feet and base broken off.

Then I received another shipment of Santas that were not wrapped at all. I could not believe it when I picked up the box and heard the ornaments rolling around.

I bid on this lot because of the three House of Hatten (2 Santas/1 elf in a stocking) that apparently now one else saw because I got the entire lot for the opening bid of $6.00. But when I opened the box, Ebenezer Scrooge's (top left) hand was broken and one of the jingle bells on the metal Santa (bottom center) was broken off as well. I am just glad that the H of H ornaments made it unscathed. That was a miracle!

So, what does one do with a broken ornament? 

Resin is a very popular way to make copies from an original piece. I have pieces that are cast in a heavy resin (usually brown) poured into silicone molds. This made for heavy figures. You can usually tell if a hand carved figure is wood or resin by the weight in that if it is solid resin, it is heavier than most woods; if it seems light in weight, it is probably a hollow resin copy. I can tell by tapping it against my bottom teeth whether it is wood or resin.

The hollow resin technique is used in mass produced ornaments and decorations that need to be lighter weight, and are made by pouring the resin in a mold and giving it a swirl. Resin in this form is not the ideal material to work with.  It can be as thick as half and inch in some areas paper thin in others, therefore it can break easily. 

I have found that when it breaks, unlike bisque, ceramic, or porcelain, it tends to flex. This can make it difficult to alight the pieces. When repairing resin, I usually use super glue or a modeling glue that performs the same as super glue. 

Usually, there will be some touching up to do and I've found acrylic paints can touch up the cracks and last a long time with minimal handling. I usually put a dab of sealer over it that is either flat, gloss, or a mixture of the two to match the piece I am repairing.

I recently repaired a few House of Hatten pieces. They really do break easily, usually because of a paper thin area of resin. I used super glue and a tiny amount a non firing clay that dries to a hard finish to fill in the chipped areas, repainted and dabbed on some matching sealer. 

I found this huge piece by Denise Calla (H of H artist) with both of the front runners broken clean off. It only cost me $5 at Goodwill, but after I repaired the damage, it could easily pass as mint and go for over $100 on eBay. 

Of course, zoomed in you can see the where it was repaired.

I need to find some of this fine glitter to cover up the repaired area.

I tried scraping off some of the loose glitter but it wasn't enough to really patch the repaired area, but if you look at the whole piece, there are several other bare areas.

The clay works well for me but in the case of missing pieces or pieces that are just to thin to glue, I found this great little tip on Yahoo Answers. 

"Dave" offered this suggestion and I may have to use this technique one day.
"I would look into an automotive body filler such as Bondo or an epoxy putty such as Tech Steel. You should be able to find both, or similar, in an automotive store. They both are shapeable, harden quickly by a reactive process, can be easily filed and sanded when dry, paint well and have similar properties to the resin that the ornament is made out of. I would tend to suggest the putty first because it is firmer and more mouldable but be aware that it hardens in a few minutes. You will need to form a rough shape and then fine tune when fully hardened."

I first started repairing ceramic, bisque and porcelain figures in the early nineties. Because as an artist, I work with so many different mediums, I tend to have a lot of materials on hand to experiment with. I would find things at flea markets and yard sales that had minimal damage and repair them. The damage areas were undetectable. 

My greatest challenge was a Lladro figurine that a friend brought me that was broken in half along with several small pieces. Glueing it together was one thing. Gluing heavy pieces together can be challenging enough, but adding the small puzzle like pieces with some inside beveled edges was a whole other thing. I figured out how to assemble the pieces, but I still had to fill the missing chips and repaint and find a glaze that would work.  

So, after I matched the Lladro signature blue with watered down acrylic paint, I touched up the filled in chips and added Diamond Glaze. This is the product I used on my Santa Claus eyes because it gave them a more realistic look. When I bought it, it was in a jar. Now that I have finally recalled the name, I found that it now comes in a bottle. Great stuff! And it adheres to glass. So, the Lladro was saved. I can't say it was my best work considering all the damage. But I can say that it looks better on a shelf than in a trash can!

Don't give up on your broken ornaments. There are plenty of products out there you can use to repair the ones that are the most sentimental or are a part of your favorite collection. Practice on some that you are not as sentimental about and you'll be surprised with what you can do.

I don't care much for the Gorilla brand of Super Glue. It is a paint work with on any surface and I had to glue this one twice which meant a layer of glue which caused the crack to be more pronounced.
Also, super glue can cause a bit of reaction to the paint (like turpentine or paint thinner) and you can see where it smeared on the white and how the crack is visible.

Since this is not a collectible ornament, I took some liberties with my painting technique and added some ermine. I was painting rather quickly, and I wish now that I had taken my time and done it neatly. DANG IT! But the added detail camouflaged the repair. You can still see a tiny crack but I'll touch that up later. I couldn't see it until it was blown up on the image.

I also painted a date on him, just for fun.

So here he is, back in one piece and not so worse for wear. His hanger was missing so I added a screw eye. I did not have any gold so I painted it red.

Finally, I replaced the wire belt around his waist, touched up a few too many dark spots on his beard, and this Christmas he'll join the rest of my 300 Santas on the tree.