As kids, we used to joke that Moses had the first car, because he went up the mountain in his Duckling (a Dutch play on the word for 'all alone' and a nickname for the Citroën 2CV). But this week the statue of Moses really went by car, and his brother Aaron went along with him. The past few weeks I restored the statues with restoration mortar, in intervals. In intervals, because the mortar takes quite a long time to harden and should be kept moist during that, before I can finish it and touch up on the colouring.
Aaron turned out to have sustained a broken neck in the past, and Moses had a number of older repairs in which pieces were glued back on. Because it wasn't clear what adhesive was used and how it was bonded, I had to remove the old glue as much as possible. That's because the brothers are now on their way by truck to the firm Ibach in Bischberg (near Bamberg), in South Germany. There, after a lengthy process of three months drying to the core, they will be saturated with acrylic resin. That constitutues the majority of the costs of this restoration; of which my work is but a fraction.
The saturation process and dense bonding seams do not go well together, and not at all in case it concerns polyester glue. That is why I have drilled a 40 cm deep hole through Aaron's head with a big pipe drill, right into the chest. When I took out the drill core I indeed found a short copper pen, and more adhesive. Into that drill hole I inserted a long piece of wire end of 2 cm thick and cast special pouring mortar around it. The borehole was 'capped off’ with a short piece of the original stone of his hat, and with a little mortar and colour there is nothing left to be seen of it. Now, Aarons head really can no longer fall off! The seam in his neck was completely opened up, and there too the glue was removed and replaced with mortar.
All in all there were lots of larger and smaller repairs, especially on the side of Moses’ s garment, where I needed to restore whole segments. Also, I had to repair pieces of hands, and a few fingers and thumbs. Someone who doesn't know this will not see exactly what I did, because the statues still look pretty weathered.
It was not intended that the men back on their Sunday best at would stand, because in that case there would not be much left of the original surface anymore. The work I have done was focused on preservation and the restoration of important missing pieces.
The statues still look a bit blotchy. That's because after cleaning with steam I largely left the surface as it was, scarred by weathering, with scattered signs of dark deposition. That too is related to the assignment I got, to preserve the statues rather than carry out a profound restoration back to the original state. Nothing wrong in showing these are original, old statues!
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