I was asked by a friend recently, if I could fix some small broken ceramic sculpture. One had fallen foul of his teenage son's flailing limbs and the other just needed restuck to its wooden plinth and a little touch up. I said, I'll see what I could do. Two lovely figurative pieces of slip cast clay with a matt glaze finish.
The piece on the right (above) was fairly straight forward. To spruce up, I sanded down and reapplied colour and nice dark oak varnish to the plinth and touched up chips in the finish of the sculpture with a thin brush and black acrylic paint. The ceramic was then reattached with contact adhesive.
The one on the left was much more involved. Fortunately, the break was at the bottom of the sculpture and would make the joins less visible than if her head had come off. I had a few of the broken off pieces which I joined with a 2 part epoxy adhesive. After working out the mini jigsaw, I discovered that a large piece was still missing. Ceramicists would normally repair this with a sculpted, fitted piece of clay that would be later fired and attached. As I don't have a kiln or the proper knowledge of how to go about this I chose the other option using an epoxy putty. Milliput is the brand name of a 2 part epoxy putty that can be used to mend gaps in all sorts of things including car parts. It is air drying, very strong and comes in different colours and fineness. I used the yellow/grey version. It has great adhesive qualities too so it can be applied directly to the pieces. Mixed in equal parts, I fashioned the missing area with a bit of artistic licence as I didn't know what the original looked like. Once the Milliput was dry (left it overnight to make sure) I went about creating a paint colour finish to blend in to the existing sculpture. Using layers of coloured acrylic, I stippled on the paint until I achieved a desirable finish. Then it was just a case of a quick layer of protective polyurethane water-based matt clear varnish and she was done. Overall, I was very pleased with the result and it was safe to say the client was very happy too. A great wee project, I really enjoyed giving my developing making skills a challenge. I think I might be getting good at this!
Jennifer Kilgour is an artist and maker specialising in model making, sculpture, painting and drawing.
She has also occasionally made the odd animation, wooden furniture and walking the family dog in the woods.