Often we have to rebuild missing chunks of wood and “faux” or fake the appearance to mimic & blend into the surrounding area. That’s right… we’re big fakers! So we have to be prepared to fake any material, grain or finish we find. With experience we get used to matching the more common wood grains & colors but a new challenge can pop up at any time.
Recently I took on an Ivory figurine with missing parts of an ornate crown. So right away the first question is how do I build my new material onto these tiny points of attachment… and how do I work and shape my material without detaching it? Well, the solution had to be in anchoring the new to the old with steel pins which required some delicate drilling with a 1/32″ bit.
Now then… how do we apply the new materiel neatly to these areas without making a mess? We don’t want to end up with a big solid rock! This is a catalyzed putty similar to Bondo which hardens like a rock in about 1 minute. I decided to press modeling clay into the existing crown & broken area and then scoop & carve out a ‘negative’ of the missing parts. This created a mold which allowed me to pour & press the ‘bondo’ around my pins and let it harden into a roughly correct shape. From there I just carved & sanded the final shape.
Once the final structure was there, it was a matter of smoothing & polishing the surface so it would take on the color & sheen of ivory. Old ivory has a yellowish cast which was easy enough to match by polishing oil colors into the pores of the bondo and rubbing to a shine. In the end I decided that it needed a bit more gloss so I applied some lacquer to the new ‘fake’ area… and once it dried, I continued polishing the lacquer until all that remained of it just closed the pores of the bondo and evened out the satin sheen. This was a bit of a curveball but it made an enjoyable project and turned out well.