The Qeen playing mandoline.1870 -1900 ...Paris Factories?
Medium sized heavy group, 29 cm high and 25cm wide at the base. Rich in fine detail, neatly painted over glaze. The group is showing some great modeling and potting skill and obviously has great decorative merit.
I never dealt with mandolins before. The overall quality level of the group suggested recreation of some very detailed replacement part.(im.3)
Just like the crossed swords of the Meissen manufacture or two cursive capital "L"s of the Sevres of France , the mock - Vienna Bee-Hive marking (6) was also very popular among small - medium and large scale manufactures of 19th -early 20th century Europe. Such copies vary greatly in quality and in period ,but the market for them was vast. The better and older copies can be very good and mislead even the experienced. .
I started from the broken fingers. Exact Form and Color match. Shown in white(7,9) and in final, completed state(8,10).
Restoring the upper part of the mandolin took a while. I found the images of the classical mandolins available for sale.
I modeled the needed part manually in full accordance with its proportional dimensions, original design ,very delicate detail and shape(11,12). The materials used - artificial porcelain, a few stainless steel needles and wood.
Looks great from any distance/angle . Measurements: 4 cm long and about 1cm at its widest point.
After attaching the replacement it to the original part of the broken neck I started restoration of the broken lace…
Restoration of the porcelain lace was the most delicate part of the project. This lace which intrigues many , is quite easy to produce - but note - not to restore..
Real lace is dipped in the liquid porcelain or "slip", then cut and affixed to the figure or a group in the correct position. Then, the whole group goes into kiln. The lace itself is fired away due to the great heat in the kiln, leaving the porcelain to perpetuate the openwork design of the original lace (15).
It mast be stated that this type of decoration is very fragile. I have seen many lace-decorated groups and figures and every single older one had the parts of the lace broken off or damaged.
There are not so many restorers who boast that they are able to restore the lace so that it would match with remaining original areas in shape, color ,pattern and firmness … I saw some examples of "successful" repairs… They simply attach some bands of plastic or textile lace soaked in tinted glue over the remaining original porcelain areas or cover just the affected areas were porcelain lace is missing ,and pour some more transparent glue over.. The restored parts looked really out of place, even from the distance of 3-4 meters. The pattern of the restored lace would never match with remaining original visually available areas, the replaced parts remained soft and would give in under slight pressure of a probing index finger!
Actually there are no materials yet ,as I know ,that would allow to get the restored lace hard as stone without affecting the delicate detail of the netlike ,woven pattern of the lace . There are two choices only as I see it - to make it hard but with loss of detail or to make it soft -but with more detailed surface.
I chose the first option. The lace I got ,of course, didn't match the pattern of the original , simply because there are no samples of this particular 19th century produced lace available for sale anywhere in the world any longer … I used the stripes of fine plastic net( 16-19) because it is initially harder than the lace made of textile and can be easily manipulated, correctly positioned and attached to the porcelain..
I will not describe all the details of the process. The whole procedure takes time and requires a lot of patience .The images show what I got. Detail of the network is lost ,of course. To achieve some uniformity in detail and color I applied specially prepared mixture and sprayed some paint over the whole band (Note - there is no overspray traces or glue excess anywhere!)
But now the thing is uniform in shape and color and is physically as hard as stone. And it makes ceramic sound when knocked with a fingernail.. One should try really hard to break it again.. and robably with a hammer in the hand only.
I don't state that the restoration of the lace is perfct- far from it ! - but I couldn't make it better at that time..
Restoration is complete. Note - in this case all carried out restorations can be safely removed in the future with no damge to the original lace if need be !
The view of the restored mandolin in color. Click on the image to see the images in higher resolution.