So you are now the owner of one of Rudkin Studio’s ceramic animals? Here are some tips for enjoying and caring for your new sculpture.
Where Oh Where?
If you haven’t yet decided where to place your new sculpture, here are a few thoughts…
The Eyes Have It
The eyes are the windows to the soul and that includes the soul of your new work of art. Place the sculpture on a shelf or table at eye level so your sculpture can make eye contact for maximum smiles.
No need to worry about fading or dampness with ceramics. Unless your sculpture incorporates a more fragile medium such as paper, you can place it in any area no matter how sunny.
If you have a display area with numerous sculptures, consider using risers to place the sculptures at different heights. Mix up the sculptures– small ones next to large ones so that one area of the display doesn’t seem “heavier” than another.
Inside or Out?
Unless the sculpture incorporates a non-weather-resistant element (such as a paper label on an antique tin) the sculpture can likely live indoors or outdoors. If the sculpture is light and tall, wind can be a factor but this is rarely the case. I have kept sculptures outside year round in the freezing Colorado winters and boiling Colorado summers for 15 years with no issues related to weather. I have had a few breaks resulting from the antics of rambunctious dogs, however.
Do you want to place your sculpture on a wooden surface or other surface that could be scratched? The easiest solution is to put felt on the bottom of the sculpture. You can buy sheets of felt with adhesive on one side at Michaels.
Another possible solution is to smooth the bottom surface with a diamond sharpening stone. This is easier with small sculptures, unless you have a really big stone.
Maintaining Your Sculpture
There’s not much you need to do for your sculpture– no need to feed or walk or groom :). An occasional bath, however, is a good idea.
How to Clean
To clean simply rinse under water– no need to dust or use cleaning solutions. Of course if there are non-waterproof elements, such as a paper label or felt bottom, you will need to rinse carefully as opposed to giving the sculpture a good drenching.
Breaks happen. Mischievous cats. Overzealous house cleaners. Tippy tables. The good news is repairs are usually simple and shouldn’t cause problems down the road. This post is long in an effort to be through but don’t be intimidated. The process is pretty straightforward.
The first step is gluing . I have had good luck with the “clear liquid nails for small projects” that comes in a small tube, and with J. B. Weld epoxy, but there are many good glues – choose something that bonds well with ceramic.
If the break has resulted in more than two pieces, work on repairing one break at a time.
The main gluing challenge is supporting the sculpture in the correct position while the glue dries. If the break is horizontal and the weight of the sculpture sits on top of the break, you’re in good shape. Otherwise you’ll want to create a set-up that keeps the piece stable and at the correct angle so that gravity to pulls the two pieces together while the glue dries. The set-up may consist of bubble wrap, blocks of wood, rolled towels—whatever you need to be sure the two pieces stay in good contact while drying.
Get this set-up ready BEFORE gluing and put it in an out-of-the way place so the sculpture won’t be moved AT ALL after gluing.
Follow the glue instructions, which usually require just a little glue on the surfaces of both pieces to be attached. Don’t use too much– just enough to lightly coat both surfaces. Get the sculpture onto your set up with the least possible jostling as soon as possible after applying glue.
Hold the two pieces in close contact and as still as possible for a couple of minutes. Wipe off excess glue while holding together if necessary (Q tips work well).
And then leave it alone to dry completely– at least overnight. Do not shift the set up. No checking or adjusting anything after applying the glue! Getting a nice seal with the glue the FIRST time is very important.
For most breaks, gluing is all you need. However, if there are any gaps, you might need another step or two.
After the glue sets overnight (or longer), you’re ready for the next step if you need it–epoxy putty. For a clean break the putty may not be necessary but in addition to filling any hairline cracks, the putty can strengthen the joint. Many local hardware stores carry epoxy putty. Here’s what one brand looks like, but there are other brands as well.
I find that the main difference among the types of putty is color– concrete putty is white, plumbing is grey. I’ve used them all with success. I tend to choose concrete for easiest coloring.
This product is inexpensive, easy to use, dries super hard, you can sand down any unevenness, and it’s paintable. You are only going to need the tiniest bit but you might find other uses for it!
Of course you want to be gentle when applying the putty — the glue should hold the pieces in place as long as you don’t stress the bond. If you do use the putty, I would recommend putting a small amount of putty behind the crack in a less visible spot to reinforce the joint. You can blend it into the sculpture above and below the crack.
As a last step, you can paint the putty after it dries to match the sculpture color if needed. I usually use thinned oil paint but acrylic should work too. Permanent marker is also an option depending on the clay color. Again, you just need the tiniest dab of color.
And voila. You may notice the crack if you look very closely, but chances are no one else ever will!