Raimonds Karveckis has completed advanced gilding at FlorenceArt studio of decorative arts in Florence, Italy and studied restoration techniques under the tutelage of Laurent Hissier, former restoration specialist at the Palace of Versailles in France and now a freelance master craftsman. Originally from Latvia, Raimonds has been based in Ballina, Co.Tipperary, Ireland since 2001, where he is well known in the area for his artistic abilities and he is the owner of Ecclesiastical Restoration Workshop.
ECCLESIASTICAL RESTORATIONS WORKSHOP
Using restoration techniques and materials sympathetic to the period in which the objects were made, the creative team in the workshop can undertake the repair and restoration of religious artefacts.
This includes specialist paint effects on walls such as frescos and gilding on dados and plaster trims as well as repairs to paintings and frames, furniture, metal ware, gilded objects, candelabras and other furnishings.
Of particular interest is the restoration of Church Statuary which includes nativity sets, statues, saints, altars and more.
Ecclesiastical Restorations is also an associate member of a network of antique restorers who work throughout Europe and America on government and privately backed restoration projects.
EXTENSIVE RESTORATION OF A STATUE OF ST. JOSEPH – METHODS AND TECHNIQUES
A local priest found this statue in a shed, where it had been neglected for 20 years and brought it to Raimonds for repair and restoration. Raimonds immediately saw the quality of the statue, only a high quality of plaster and workmanship could have resulted in its survival in such conditions. He puts the age of the piece at between 100 and 150 years old.
The biggest repair job was to reattach the head. Raimonds first had to gain access into the statue, this was accomplished by cutting a section out from the rear, and he then made a wire armature and attached this first to the head and then the body after seating the head correctly with a two part epoxy resin.
While working inside the statue, the chest area was found to be extremely thin. This was reinforced with plaster of paris and the gaps around the repaired head were filled out, taping the outside to hold the plaster in place.
The panel was then replaced in the back of the statue and plastered in.
The statue was missing a hand, so Raimonds commissioned a local sculptor to create a mold, from which a replacement was cast and attached using an armature and epoxy. The repair was again made good with plaster of paris. The flower had a replacement stem made of plaster over a wire armature attached and was fixed to the statue.
Cleaning, Painting and Gilding
After cleaning the statue with a specially made solution it was discovered that the paint on both faces could be saved. The rest of the statue was carefully sanded and hoovered before priming in a white basecoat.
The paintwork on the heads and faces was touched up with casein paint as this was the paint most likely to have been used originally, unfortunately at the time casein paint proved hard to source so Raimonds used chalk paints on the main body of the statue. As the statue was to be placed up high on the wall of the church it was not necessary to seal the chalk paint.
Raimonds moved onto the gold leaf ornamentation of the statues, a process that was to take a month to complete. The designs were laboriously hand painted in yellow ochre casein paint before being sized and gilded, a testament to the patience of the craftsman!
To finish, a wooden base was commissioned from a local carpenter and this was finished in an old master technique by Raimonds. The wood was sealed with hot rabbit skin glue, then 12 coats of gesso were applied and carefully sanded before painting with casein paint, distressing, hand painting the ornament and sealing with shellac. The base was then attached to the statue with evo bond universal pva.
From start to finish the entire restoration process took a total of three months. The statue can now be seen on display in Our Lady & St. Lua church, Ballina, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.