Krijger Hert Statue: Tinkering to Perfection

Working closely with the client, we came to the realization that the original restored Krijger sculpture had a few lingering aspects that were not as true to the original as we had hoped. The torso, the shoulder joints, and the main ribcage were the areas of concern.

The restored sculpture’s torso was built from a salvaged barn beam. This differed from the original which was a piece of red cedar driftwood. The barn beam had two advantages: fewer hours of labor would be needed to shape it, and it would have greater structural integrity. Unfortunately, once it was all done, the torso still in some ways felt like a barn beam and lacked the rounded animal-like qualities of the original. A fresh red cedar log was brought in and carefully chiseled down to the desired shape, and then chemically treated to match the color of the original.

Structural integrity was also a concern for the shoulder joints. Original restoration had sent bolts on either side, partway into the torso. This adhered each leg independently, making adjustments to stand the sculpture easier, but the overall strength this gave to the sculpture was less than we had hoped. We decided to re-engineer how the shoulders attached, and opted for a stronger and thicker single bolt sent clean through the torso. This, however, added a considerable degree of difficulty, in that the legs were now co-joined, and adjusting one would minutely effect the other and draw the sculpture out of balance. We realized the bolt that connected the shoulder joints would need to have a slight bend in order to have the feet maintain a level plane. The process to find the correct angle was done by trial and error, a laborious effort of heating and then gripping the ends with wrenches to pry it into shape. This took us a few tries, but we got it.

The final area we wanted to get perfect was the main ribcage. Krijger had originally used a very thin metal which was easy to shape. We had chosen a stronger gauge of metal that would maintain itself better over time. But this also meant it was harder to shape. Our original restoration had the individual ribs straighter than the original statue. By heating the metal we were able to soften it enough so that we could shape each part into a more naturalistic appearance.

As you can imagine this project turned into an extensive restoration which challenged us to remain disciplined and to trust our knowledge with different materials, and that, ultimately, we would get a sculpture that we and our client would be proud of.

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