It is a horrible feeling to break a piece that you have been working on for some time. After all the hours of drawing and planning, and then the additional hours of the actual cutting and seeing the piece come to a beautiful reality, one of the worst feelings is when you pick it up and hear it ‘crack’. The only thing that can be worse is when you do it to someone else’s piece. (Ahem – that would be me!)
My partner had been working on a piece for over a week now. He only gets limited time after his other job on the weekdays so it usually takes a few days at least to draw up and cut out a project, depending on the complexity. He was making an elf (or fairy, if you will) that would be an overlay piece and appear to be walking out of the frame. I thought this was quite a nice project and we were planning to submit it to my editor for consideration for the magazine.
After a couple of evenings of cutting, it was finally finished. He decided to use a mineral oil finish and spray shellac over it to seal it. It was a great choice of finishing because with all the intricate wing cutouts, he was able to submerge it in oil in a large, flat pan and not risk breaking anything by using a brush to get finish in between the numerous cutout areas.
Everything was going fine. Until I came along. The pieces were drying on the table on folded paper towels, and I didn’t want them to get broken so I though I would set them out of the way. Without thinking I picked the fairy up by the wings and heard a little “crack.” I immediately felt that roller coaster sickness in my stomach because I realized that the piece had broken. Keith was next to me and heard it too and we just looked at each other and I didn’t know what to say. He isn’t the type to get angry, and this was no exception. Very calmly we examined the damage and saw that one section of the wing had a small break in it.
Now the piece was to be glued onto the frame at the tips of the wings, and the break was in the middle so it wouldn’t carry much, if any weight. I was more of a stability issue we were dealing with here. The problem was that we were in the process of submitting it to my editor for consideration for the magazine and if it were to be picked, it would not only have to travel to New Jersey, but also be photographed for the article. Now things have broken before both in transit to the magazine and also by their own hand and it is easy to hide the damages with the camera, but it was the principle of the thing that bothered me so much.
I felt terrible and Keith wound up consoling me and telling me it was fine. I offered to re-cut it for him, but both of us knew that it wouldn’t be the same. This was HIS project and if I were to cut it, it would take something away from it. I know you can all understand that.
So I looked to you, my fellow LJ’s and posted a question as to the best way to repair it. The problem was that it had just finished soaking in the oil and was still pretty moist. I needed to know what glue would adhere to such a piece.
We allowed it to dry an hour or so and then when it looked like it was drying out, he proceeded to give it a couple of light coats of spray shellac to seal in the oil. Fortunately, this looked good and it must have been dry enough to accept the shellac as a sealer. We decided to wait for our replies and leave it over night.
The overall consensus was to use CA glue. While he was at work yesterday, I thought I would attempt the repair. I wanted him to come home to the project being all repaired. I did take pictures to show you, hoping that I would be successful and being able to share the process with you so if you run into this problem you could maybe give it a go.
The first picture shows the fracture. It is small, and the opposite piece didn’t break, so again the entire load wouldn’t be on damaged section that broke. It would just be additional support:
|From Wood Repair|
I dried the piece off as well as I could. I knew there was probably oil in the mating ends of the fracture, but it would be too much of a risk to try to dry inside there, so I hoped that the oil had absorbed far enough into the wood to allow a good bond.
I used a small toothpick as a brace on the back side and I dripped a tiny amount of CA glue into the crack. I then pushed the grain together with my finger nail and held it for a couple of minutes so it could bond.
|From Wood Repair|
One of the best qualities of wood is that when it breaks, the grain causes it to do so like two puzzle pieces that fit exactly together. I knew that I had one good shot to make it look good, as if I would have had to reapply the glue, there would be glue from the first attempt in the crack and it would not allow the pieces to mesh back together perfectly. The key here was patience and not moving for at least a couple of minutes. I think I was pretty successful because when I finally did remove my finger and the toothpick, the bond held.
|From Wood Repair|
This next picture is a wider angle and I am pointing to just where the repair was located. You can see that there are two places where the bottom wing is held to the rest of the piece, but because of the angle, the grain is quite short along this area and it isn’t very strong. When the tips are glued to the frame, strength isn’t really the iconcern and as I said, it is more of a stability issue than anything but it is still important for it to be in tact.
|From Wood Repair|
And here is the final project in place. You can see where most of the weight load is carried by the larger wing tips of the top wings. Once glued in place onto the frame, all should be well again.
|From Wood Repair|
There will be a veneer backer of walnut which will be glued to the back of the frame. It will give a nice contrast and also enhance the shadow box effect of the piece. I was very grateful for all the advice and it was good to have you all to turn to in this little mini-crisis of mine. The bond seems to be good and should hold up fine. All is good with the world again.
I am sorry to say however, that my editor opted not to go with the project. He said they had just put out a fairy book and even though they liked the look of her coming out of the frame, it just wasn’t a good time to publish it. It was one of those “good news/bad news” days. :(
I also had some major changes regarding the skating pond figures that I will talk about tomorrow, as I realize this is a longer post than I intended. It wasn’t really what I would call positive, but again it isn’t the end of the world. There are many avenues I can take with it and will be discussing them in tomorrow’s blog.
You never know what the day will bring. Many people think that just because I have a long history with the magazine, everything I offer them will be taken. That certainly isn’t the case. I have many, many items that I have presented and have not been used for publication. Some have done extremely well on my site and with the wholesalers, even after being rejected by the magazine. So it isn’t the end of the world if they don’t take something.
I believe I take rejection fairly well. It used to get to me more then it does now. I have come to realize that my editor and his assistant are also human, and we all have the right to like or dislike something. You can’t argue opinions. (Well, you can argue them, but everyone has a right to have their own!) I’ll put it this way – you can’t tell people what they have to like. Sometimes another set of eyes is a great asset. I have never been a ‘think with the masses’ type of girl, and even though that is part of what sets me apart from others, it can also hurt me if I am looking for mass appeal. I have really learned in these many years on this job to respect people’s taste and preferences and not feel personally offended if what I do does not appeal to everyone. That sounds like a small thing, but really it is quite huge. Just think how boring the world would be if we all thought the same and liked exactly the same thing! Individuality and diversity is really what makes this world a better place. Just look around here at LJ’s!
So again I thank you all for your input on the repair. I think it was a resounding success and I hope that if you ever get in that type of situation you will remember this and it will help just a little. If not, you can always ask the great people here. There is always someone who is willing to help.
Friday already? Weekend approaching (along with Earl, I hear – for me anyway!) Have a great one!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"