Patriot has arrived in time for the 4th in his new home in Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. His unveiling at the Market Street Alley Preview Party on June
21, 2002 billed him as the "representative of the spirit of the revitalized
downtown Lancaster". Boy, what a big important job for a few pieces of wood,
glue, and paint. It's amazing how carousels originally designed for fun at the
end of the trolley line are now re-energizing the core of downtowns in cities
Patriot, from a label printed and distributed along
the route of the Patriots in History parade,
September 17, 2003
It was a rough ride for Patriot on the way to his new home. He arrived broken,
and had to be repaired before he could assume his official position . . .
in the mayor's office!
I have a few flag horses to post. The pinto Illions was sent to me
by Lisa Pisano of Staten Island. She included a note of concern for this
favorite carousel as it was closed on her last summer visit. The figure, from
the Hempstead Park Illions Carousel, is destined for restoration along with
the entire rare portable Illions ride.
A pinto Illions
Courtesy of Lisa Pisano,
Gary Grasso, the architect for the
project, joined us for the NCA Technical Conference in Spokane and Republic,
Washington in May and is researching the best building and strategy for this
project. The staff of the New England Carousel Museum is helping him with his
research so if you have photos or information on Illion's portable machines,
which were quite rare, contact the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second photo of a military flag horse was given to me as a
reference photo a few years back. I did not write on it the location. I love
this figure, the bright colors and beautiful carvings. A Muller perhaps? Maybe
a reader can recognize it and let me know. This points out why it is important
that we mark all those pictures of carousels we enthusiasts take around the
country. Each year a dozen or so volunteers travel to the NCA Archives in
Leavenworth, Kansas and spend the weekend trying to identify boxes of such
treasures. Oh, if they had only been marked.
Can you identify this horse?
From the mail box:
As promised, I'm going to include some paint
questions that readers have sent.
Sagging paint: Sagging is caused when the paint is too
thick or is being applied onto a previous layer that is to slick or glossy.
Gravity is making it slide off the surface. You need to dull down the base
layer of paint, or give it "tooth". This can be accomplished by mixing a
flat paint - white, black, primer, or oil tube pigments in the base layers.
If your final color is glossy and another coat is needed, you can also add
"tooth" by lightly sanding with a very fine sand paper. 400 grit works best.
To test how it will look after this sanding, just apply a wet finger. The
color will pop right up at you again.
Covering eyes and jewels:
The easiest and fastest method is to apply masking tape flat, shape
around the jewel with finger and then cut away the outline of the jewel
using an Exacto knife. Use real masking tape, not painter's tape. If a
sticky residue is there after removal of the tape, just use a clean cloth
damped with clean paint thinner to remove it. Be sure the paint is
completely dry around the area. Also, remove this tape before the final
clear coating as there are always spots to be cleaned off and or touched up.
Again, the Exacto knife is used to scrape any paint off the glass before the
Old worn and scratched jewels often can't be replaced.
They just aren't being made. You can clean off the old paint, and then clear
coat them with the figure. They are protected and the sheen will be
returned. This is often easier and more cost effective than trying to remove
them and find someone who will re-polish them for you.
Finish: This clear coating is optional for a new carving or restoration
for home use. I love the varied level of gloss finishes that happen
naturally as the paint is mixed and applied but there is nothing like the
depth of color and protection of a final clear coat. It doesn't have to be
high gloss. Today's clear coats are available in satin or you can compromise
and mix satin with high gloss. This gives you just the right light
reflection and protection for the figure.
Cleaning: Yes, we
all love to dust! Ha! For an operating carousel figure, the best way to
clean them on a regular basis is to wipe them down with a damp cloth. And a
scheduled good scrubbing is also in order. For this use ordinary car shampoo
without wax. These are formulated to not scratch or abrade and will leave
you with a bright, shiny figure. Use water sparingly and be sure to wipe
down and dry after cleaning. Dust and grime will get into the carved lines,
so begin with a soft brush to flush out these areas. The new "magnetic" dust
cloths work great on day to day dusting. (or is that week to week).
PAINT is hard paint. When you first paint your figure, treat it gently in
dusting and cleaning!
Placement: Nothing does well when it
sits in the sun, including carved and painted carousel figures. No matter how
lovely it looks, don't place that carousel figure in a window that gets
direct sunlight or near a heat source. Both the wood and the paint have
enough to deal with in adjusting to normal seasonal changes. They won't be
able to tolerate the instant changes due to heat registers and hot sun
Tails: Good tails are hard to find. For those of us who
deal with both operating carousels and home projects, it is wise to invest
in the best quality available. I could tell a hilarious story here of a
community project that made the mistake of taking on a large batch of
donated tails from a rendering plant. These were "fresh" tails. I do not
advise this, ever, unless you have a tanner in the group. Tanned leather
tails are the best as they are soft, pliable, and washable. Rawhide tails
work well for a home project and salted-down tails are a waste as they
become hard and brittle. They will break at the slightest touch.
My last photo included is the Uncle Sam Chariot on the carousel at
the Museum of Carousel Art and History, previously known as the Merry-Go-Round
Museum in Sandusky, Ohio. I hope all of you will keep our nation's carousels
and museums open and independent this year. Not only by taking a ride but by
volunteering and or buying a membership in their support groups. With higher
wage costs, insurance, and hard economic times, all carousels are put at risk.
The Uncle Sam Chariot
The Museum of Carousel Art and History
I spent yesterday afternoon volunteering and dusting the Gift Shop associated
with our city owned Spokane Looff Carrousel. I put up summer displays and
folded t-shirts. Sometimes a helping hand at putting on mailing labels or
running a vacuum cleaner can make a difference to the bottom line. Just like
"Patriot" in Lancaster, you could represent a "revitalization of the carousels
in the country".
Bette Largent is a professional carousel horse restoration artist from
Washington State, and the author of
Paint The Ponies,
a guide for those who are interested in learning the art of painting
for information on ordering her book.