Friday, May 17, 2019

Dynasty and the New England Carousel Museum: Part 2

In our last blog post, we introduced you some of the work being done by the restoration artists at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. With the help of NECM Restoration Department Manager Lisa Gibson-Ronalter, in this post we will explore all of the steps involved in the restoration, painting, preserving of carousel horses.

An example of what the horses look like when they arrive at NECM.
The NECM staff includes Master Carver Juan Andreu and his apprentice Chris. They start out by removing any old paint left on the horse using a heat gun. A chemical paint stripper cannot be used because liquid paint removers could soak into--and potentially damage--the old wood. 

Next the Master Carver inspects the wood and repairs any damage done to the surface. Often these horses show years worth of wear and tear. 

Once the wood body is repaired, hand sanding follows--starting with course grit paper, then medium, and finally fine grit sandpaper. After the delicate bits are protected (eyes, glass jewels, etc.) the whole body of the horse is coated in shellac.  Several thin primer coats follow, with hand sanding happening after each prime coat is dry. Thin layers of primer along with sanding help to preserve all of those remarkable carved details that really bring the horse to life. 

Using photographs for reference, a color palette is selected and mixed to match the source colors. Japan oil colors are used. If needed, gold leaf is applied during this stage. 

At this point, painting can now begin! Master Paint Judy Baker along with Restoration Artist Lisa Gibson-Ronalter use oil paints to create a blended finish on the body that resembles horse hair. Great care is taken to provide a realistic look to each section of the horse--a mane flowing in the wind, a woven blanket tucked underneath a leather saddle. Highlights and lowlights support the depth of the meticulously carving. Once the painted piece has cured, a protective clear coat is applied.

Fully restored carousel horse for Sonny's Place Carousel
You can see examples of the fine work of the New England Carousel Museum artists and restorers on carousels throughout New England. 

Thank you so much to both Lisa Gibson-Ronalter and NECM Executive Director Morgan Urgo for their sharing their process (and photos) with us! 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Dynasty and the New England Carousel Museum: Part 1

Recently FM Brush Company and Dynasty made a brush donation to the New England Carousel Museum. Located in Bristol, Connecticut, the New England Carousel Museum's mission, as stated on their website, "is to preserve and protect antique wooden carousels and carousel pieces." As you can imagine, work such as this takes the dedication and collaboration of many artisans and craftspeople. 

Horse lovingly restored by the artists at the New England Carousel Museum
NECM Executive Director Morgan Urgo and Painter and Restoration Department Manager Lisa Gibson-Ronalter shared with us a little insight on just what it takes to preserve this part of our history. The restorers have been working on a few different projects, one of which is restoring the horses on a 1925 Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel installed at Sonny's Place, a recreation destination in Somers, CT. 

From restorer Lisa Gibson-Ronalter: "Carved by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1925, PTC 72 is a three row carousel with a 50 foot platform. Of the 48 horses, 16 are signature pieces that have the PTC logo carved in them (a typical ride would have 1 maybe 2 signature horses). From 1925 to 1928 the carousel operated in Delaware Beach, New Castle, Delaware and then came to Lakewood Park, in Waterbury, Connecticut from 1929 to 1945. The ride went back to PTC factory in Philadelphia and then once again went back into operation from 1952 to 2009 in Kiddieland, Melrose Park, Illinois, the carousel ending up in storage in Chicago Illinois. Though magic of restoration and preservation at the Carousel Museum team is working to bring these splendid horses restored to their former beauty. Horses from PTC 72 ride will be displayed throughout the process at the New England Carousel Museum for viewing, showcased and shared with our many visitors and patrons."

Below Master Painter Judith Baker and Painter/Restoration Department Manager Lisa Gibson-Ronalter work on a Sonny's Place carousel horse. All photos appear courtesy of the New England Carousel Museum.

We have a lot to share with you about NECM, their process and their projects so please stay tuned for this special blog series! In the meantime, if you would like to visit the New England Carousel Museum you can find all of the info you need at their website and their Facebook page

And as always, if you would like to learn more about our brushes (like the Orange Ice brushes the restorers are using here) please visit our website.