13 November 2012

Refurbishing a Tacky Old Statue

Yes, yes I am refurbishing a tacky, old statute.  Because I LOVE my tacky cat statue.  Long ago and far away, when I was 17 years old and living in my very first apartment, I was friends with the girl who lived across the courtyard from me, in the facing building.  Her roomates were horrible, left her high and dry, and she had to abandon the apartment (which her roomates trashed before leaving, by the way. Horrible).  She left it standing open, and told me to go in and salvage whatever I wanted to before the apartment people came to clean it out.  We exchanged numbers, but I never heard from her again.  I hope she ended up being okay.

So I went over to her place.  Cleaned it up a bit.  Snagged a little patio table for a friend who was looking for one, a laundry hamper, which I desperately needed, and this cat statue:

This cat has sat in my entry way in every place I've ever lived, since that day when I was 17, and I love her to the moon and back.  She's been nearly every color of the rainbow (when I got her, she was red), and she has, unfortunately, been knocked over and broken more times than I could count.  So many times, in fact, that the last time I glued her back together, she wouldn't go back together properly.  I did as good a job as I could, but there was just so much glue and paint built up in the cracks, it wasn't working anymore.  So I decided to fix her for real this time. 

Horrifyingly enough, the first step was to knock her back apart along the established cracks.  Fortunately the five major pieces the cat always breaks into came apart cleanly.  Some of the more minor cracks held together stubbornly, and I only created one new break, in the process.  I chipped and sanded old, dried clumps of glue from around the edges, and then soaked off the rest with acetone. I also used the acetone to clean up the whole surface of each piece, removing built-up paint in the crevices, blobs and drips from old spray-paint jobs, brush hairs caught in the paint, etc.  YOU probably can't tell from these pictures, but I can see the last four paint jobs here, thanks to the acetone.

After gluing the cat back together more firmly with a strong, all-purpose adhesive (and waiting over 24 hours for it to cure), the next step was to fill all those cracks, chips, and holes where tiny pieces have been broken off of corners and edges over the years.  Some of the pieces still won't fit back together exactly, as they once did, and so those open joints needed to be patched, too.  

After much research into ceramic repair, and good advice from a friend, I decided to do this with unsanded tile grout.  I mixed a thick paste of it with water and troweled it on with a small, plastic paint scraper, then smoothed it out and wiped off the excess with a wet paper towel.  You can see some of the major cracks in this picture, including the worst of the joints that don't fit back together, near the top, somewhat horizontally. Once this coat dries I'll sand it down smooth and do it all over again, until the largest cracks are just as invisible as the tiny ones that have already been filled and smoothed over.  As many times as is necessary, until this cat is smooth and solid and strong.

To be continued... 


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