I usually say no to restoration. But these, this pair, they had something.
Maybe it was the beautiful soft colour palette…. or the wonderful limed oak frames….but i think most likely it was that darn happy sun.
Just look at it. Who could resist. I wish I had made that. Such striking colours and confident simple painting. It just makes me smile.
So of course I said. ok i will have a go at this…. I mean it seemed like there were only one or two wee broken bits and you could kinda reimagine what might be in the big gaping hole in the centre of one of the panels…. Yeah, I can fix that said I.
So my work mate took it out of the frame with much cussing and huffing… this putty is harder than hard he grumbled and yet, it still smelt fresh of linseed. Obviously very old quality stuff, (he was enjoying himself really).
Once out, the task ahead of me became realised. The border lead was some strange ‘U’ section zinc stuff that would not be retainable as to desolder would result in it becoming mangled beyond reuse…. O K i will just strip down the damaged areas thought I. Do a bit of patching.
Then it became my turn to have a meltdown and a grumble… the task in front of me just seemed huge. And filthy. And broken. And difficult. And… oh, what have I started!!!
At the end of the first day I had taken two wax crayon rubbings and stripped down 2/3 of the panel. I felt overwhelmed by it and telegraphed my concerns to the owner.
I think I probably tossed and turned and huffed and puffed throughout that following night, but… at the bench the next day. I was on it. I can do this, I said to myself. (Sleep… or not much of it… is an amazing thing!)
Very methodically I began to clean up the un broken pieces… mark up and preserve what needed recutting. And slowly built up a working drawing.
A p l a n . A place to work from.
In the end i stripped down the whole panel apart from the wee smiley sun. It deserved to be left in tact and the rest deserved to be put back good and strong. By the end of this second long long day I was happy. Some glass had been recut and colour matched to a working working plan and the remainder could be managed tomorrow….
What a great feeling. I had felt broken…. but, I was not yet sunk.
Oh yes, I haven’t told you… The other half of the matching pair, with the gallant galleon and the latin motto….
FLVCTVAT NEC MERGITVR….
I typed it into google…. it means… broken but not beaten. And literally translates as ‘wave tossed but not sunken’…..It is the motto of the city of Paris. It literally means… ‘she is tossed by the waves, but she will never sink’.
Oh my. How could I not succeed to rebuild this panel with such resounding words in front of me.
And here, for the first time in my life it seems, we are really caught up in a world wide melt down. Crikey, I had to save this panel. Flipping heck, I want to live the rest of my life chanting this darn motto.
(Sorry about the am’ drams’… but I was due a holiday!).. Anyway, i got all the glass colour matched, preserved and cut… and then had the wonderful task of re-imagining the missing pieces with paint. There were clues. But enough blank space to make me scratch my head and keep me on my toes.
Someone said, that must be very satisfying.
And I have rethunk on the word satisfying. I think it thought i did not want ‘satisfying’…
But it was. And I am. More than.
This has been a very satisfying (!) job. I have loved it. (I did not think it. and it wasn’t always so… ha. my melt down!)(one day at a time, eh)
BVT…. the satisfaction of putting this back together, reinstating it in its lovely oak frame…and standing it alongside its pair (my work mate says they are french.. the handles are definitely french he said)…. I wonder what kind of journey these windows have been on…?
I wonder…. Now here they are. Putty drying. In my workshop window (I think this putty is going to take a while to harden!)