Sunday, February 24

Blessed Virgin Garden Outdoor Statue Restoration

I've been wanting to show you the restoration process of my family's Mary statue and thought today was a good as time as any. Perhaps you'll be inspired to restore one of your own garden statues. If you have any questions about the process just drop me a line. I'd love to see the before and after photos and post them on the blog for others to see.

This is the before shot of our statue. My parents bought it in 1989 after a large hail storm hit the orchard a year earlier. They placed the statue in the middle of the fruit orchard and built a garden around it. The statue has seen a lot of weather since then and it was time for a makeover. My sister Catherine and I took on the restoration project and we began by chipping away at the old paint with a steel brush.

We continued using the steel brush on the whole statue including the grotto Mary was attached to.

We used sand paper on the harder to reach areas such as the face. Our intent was to get only the loose paint off - a full blown restoration would have required us to chip and pull away ALL the paint. We felt this wasn't need, especially since the original paint would act as a second barrier to the elements.

Using rubber gloves and a sponge we applied a weak bleach solution to make sure we would not paint over any fungus or living organisms that would eventually peel the paint. 

The statue was made of solid concrete so it was very heavy to move. The only way we were able to get the loose paint and debris out from the crevises was a small brush and this vacuum.

We base-coated the whole statue in white enamel except for the grotto. We would paint that in grey to match the original color.

The finished base-coating. We waited days for it to be completely dry. That's the drawback with enamels, but enamels are excellent in standing up to rain and snow and fluctuating temperatures. 

The paint we used for her cape was royal blue. We applied one coat and let dry. On the second coat we did some detailing by blending in a bit of white to create highlights on the creases of her cape.

We used a very slight bit of gray to give Mary's white dress a couple shadows within the creases.

For the earth and the serpent we used royal blue, green, and yellow.

For Mary's face we used olive white. Mind you we did not purchase any new paint except for the base-coat white. We wanted to make do with what we had and mix paint to get the colors we wanted. We found olive white on the basement shelf although we were planning on mixing a tiny bit of red with some white to make the skin color. 

For Mary's hair we had brown enamel all ready and we used that, but we were prepared to make brown by mixing a bit of red and green together with just a touch of yellow.

Make sure to click on the photo for a close-up. We painted the roses red, detailing them with highlights (using white) and shadows (using brown). We painted the whole grotto a dark grey. And wouldn't you know it, we had some gold Testor enamel paint from a model car/plane paint set. We used that to put the finishing touches on Mary's trim, brooch, belt, and on the cross above her. Yellow paint wouldn't have been too bad in its place.

We placed the statue back in the middle of our fruit orchard and said a prayer for protection and fruitful harvest.

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  1. I am in St Mary's Guild Sodality in Our Lady of the Desert Cathedral, Vicariate of Francistown, Botswana.

    Thank you very much for your briefing about painting the statue of Mary. I have learnt a lot from that.

    I bought Marian Statue long time ago but I did not know which paint to use and when searching I finally found your briefing. This means a lot to me, I thank so much. God Bless you!

    Thank you once again. Undimilile Milly Pilato

    1. You are very welcome. I'd love to see the restoration of your statue. Send me a photo of how it turns out! Have a blessed day!

  2. much thanks to you for your fascinating infomation.
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