Old shepherd has a break
Updated: 16 hours ago
Repair of a large nativity figure
This poor nativity shepherd was due a makeover. Covering his broken base and ankles for another year with stable hay was the last straw...along with having to wear a necklace of masking tape to hide the break in his neck.
Smaller nativity figures can receive broken necks from mishandling. Picking them up by the head is an all too common habit shared by the faithful at Christmastide. This Shepherd, being around 40 inches in height was too tall to lift by his neck, the break had to be from another cause.
Masking tape hid the break, and held held loose lumps of fractured plaster in place. Once removed and the break cleaned up, the area of repair appeared much larger.
With all the loose debris removed , the head required some support to position it correctly ready for repairs. Note that the photo above shows that the ear of the statue appears to be missing.
The neck had a further problem, supporting irons used to strengthen the structure of the neck, were protruding through to the surface instead of being deeply embedded.
If a rubber mould is over -used, it can be permanently stretched out of shape as it is repeatedly prised off each cast. As a result, this poor shepherd had acquired a lollipop-shape to his head and neck. Its appearance being somewhat unnatural, it was also not ideal for supporting the weight of the head. The average human head weighs around 5kg, and we have large muscle groups to support it. As the neck bone is connected to the head bone... as the song goes, the misshapen neck was connected to the misshapen ear.
Re-modelling the shepherd's neck
What had begun as a straightforward repair became more of a re-model. I wanted to ensure that the statue would serve the parish for many years to come, and not be prone to the neck breaking again.
I decided to thicken the neck to make it look more natural, and add further supporting irons. This made the neck area stronger against future wear and tear, and more durable for my clients.
Having corrected the shape of the neck, I was able to add an ear too. As the modelling style of the hands was rather simply done, I kept the modelling of the ear to the same style to keep the statues appearance authentic.
Below; The restored nativity shepherd admires his new neck and ear in my mirror
See more of our restored nativity figures