Antique rocking horses - serious repairs

Lines rocking horse - serious repairs needed

The top picture shows the horse when I bought her. Misty looks in a reasonable state, she had just been 'restored' with new ( but the wrong pattern ) paint, hair and tack. She had been put in an auction just before Christmas to sell to some unsuspecting person and she was described as restored and fit for use.

Auctioneers are rarely able or willing to dispute an owner's description and to be fair, they can not be expected to know anything useful about rocking horses as they generally only see a handful each year. I liked the horse ( a beautiful extra carved G & J Lines bow rocking horse ) but not the paint work and bought her with the intention of restoring her properly.

On closer inspection problems became evident. The surface layer of gesso and paint was not stuck to the wood in several places - it sounded hollow when tapped gently. In fact most of it was very loose and fell off in great chunks. The horse had been covered with thick - up to 1/2 inch in places - layers of polyfiller to disguise its very poor state. Polyfiller and similar products are not a suitable replacement for gesso; they don't adhere to the wood well, they crack and pieces break away.

As this was removed, a little of the original gesso and paint appeared but it was badly damaged and the real state of the horse could be seen. All the legs were loose and the delicate leg muscle blocks mangled beyond saving by attempts to stabilize the leg joints with a staple gun.

The neck had been broken completely off leaving a large V shaped area of torn wood. This was a very splintered break and the previous 'restorer' had completely failed to repair it. He or she had tried to glue it on but as the surfaces didn't meet it had been put back with a large uneven step left in the neck and this was then hidden by masses of polyfiller.

The head had also been split off at eye level but this was a much cleaner break.

When all the broken parts were exposed it looked utterly sad. However wood is very forgiving and everything could be repaired or replaced with new pieces to match the original. The neck has had the broken section replaced , the leg muscle blocks were also replaced and recarved and the leg joints reworked.

The last picture shows the rebuilt horse ready to gesso again.

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