Restoration - The Rabbit!

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 11-28-2013 11:31 PM 1009 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project appeared in our shop a couple months ago – an ornately carved sculpture, a classic English style hunting theme. The rabbit, the crow, the rifle, flask, leaf work, all the symbolism imaginable. Carved in English brown oak with an extremely fine detail. Every feather, every line of fur.

The carving came in cracked and very dry – we helped the cracks along and then relgued the sections filling in any missing material. The entire piece was cleaned, a fresh coat of hand cut garnet shellac applied, and then a generous amount of wax.

Not a super complex restoration – but time consuming with all the detail to clean and pick free of dirt and dust. We’re not 100% sure where this came from and when it was made, the story behind it says it’s back as far as the 1700’s but we’re not convinced of that. There is no signature or maker’s mark noticeable on the piece, which is annoying, we would really like to trace it’s lineage. There’s a limited venue of carvers who can accomplish this, which pays some reference to a Grinling Gibbons piece, but yet remains just short of some of the fine delicate detail that would lead us towards his work. My father could carve this from scratch – I don’t think I could! I could restore small sections, replace and blend missing carvings … but the ability to do this from scratch is a dying art form!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

9 comments so far

View sgtq's profile


370 posts in 1712 days

#1 posted 11-29-2013 12:12 AM

Wow that carving is amazing! Nice restoration that must have been nervewracking, i would be terrified to do irreparable harm.

-- There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. ~William J. Clinton

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5313 posts in 1365 days

#2 posted 11-29-2013 12:57 AM

Looks like you did. Great job…..

And some think society is advancing?

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View hunter71's profile


2424 posts in 2223 days

#3 posted 11-29-2013 11:08 AM

Beautiful piece. I cannot imagine carving that detail on Oak.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View grizzman's profile


7618 posts in 2340 days

#4 posted 11-29-2013 02:59 PM

yea this is magnificant, and im happy to see this piece, i guess whoever brought this to you does not have any idea of who owned it before, or any way to trace it back, its interesting that there is no makers mark on a project like this, very..a work like this just does not get created by a master and them not put there mark, maybe this was done by some sort of cnc…LOL….just kidding..well what a pleasure this must have been to see in person and be so well thought of in your skill set to have this type of work come in for repair, i know you are a master woodworker, so has your dad stopped from doing carvings, thanks for sharing this…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View swampi's profile


56 posts in 855 days

#5 posted 11-29-2013 03:58 PM

Yes Eric, The craftsmanship exhibited in this work is truly humbling, and like sgtg expressed,
I would be real apprehensive to touch it.. Nice work resetting it.

-- Harry - Bonifay, FL

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 1210 days

#6 posted 11-29-2013 08:30 PM

That carving is magnificent. Great job on restoration. That’s a family heirloom!

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 2284 days

#7 posted 11-29-2013 09:57 PM

It’s not as scary as you think to work on this type of stuff, we do it all the time. Antiques / museum pieces / artifacts … etc. Just take your time, think before you act.

This was reasonably simple – piecing in some extra material and regluing it. It’s a bit of a shock to some people to finish breaking something but it’s the only way to ensure the repair is complete. If you half fix a crack, it will in the end split the other direction. So – always break it the rest of the way then reglue the whole break.

The rest was carving in some small sections that were missing, blending the surface, and the finish. English brown oak makes it easy – it carves extremely well. Color can be tricky, it takes time and you just have to play around for a while and experiment. Take an extra piece, carve the surface and lay it next to the area you are blending. Work on the scrap piece, when you know what you did on that to make it work – go do it on the real piece.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


16399 posts in 2712 days

#8 posted 11-29-2013 11:08 PM

Awesome piece, thanks for posting.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Roger's profile


17667 posts in 1840 days

#9 posted 12-02-2013 01:31 AM

A relic for sure.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

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