Sunday, December 11, 2011


I found this 24 inch carved-in-the-round San Isidro Labrador in a shop cum residence of an Angeles antique dealer. Everything about it was bad—it was badly painted, badly damaged, badly ignored by his buyers as I’ve seen it on the same table, gathering dust for what seemed like forever.

The redeeming quality of this santo however, is its fairly good carving. I thought I could have this easily restored back to its original condition, but where was the angel? The ox and the plow? The kneeling landlord?

To my amazement, the antique dealer asked me to open an old cabinet, and inside one shelf, I found the missing parts! The plow was damaged, the angel and its tin wings were slathered with layers of paint, the ox had a broken leg and the kneeling landlord had lost its kneeler as well as its features! These tableau parts were not as nicely carved as San Isidro Labrador—but they are original to the image, and more importantly, they are 90% complete.

I made an offer which was gladly accepted, and I took San Isidro home with me. I kept it in my room, the loose parts in a shoebox. In a month, I decided to take it to Dr. Raffy Lopez to see what he could do with it.

I also told him that this was a no-rush assignment, asking him to focus on another ivory santo project which I deemed more important. We sort of agreed to update each other by text, and he would keep me posted by sending work-in-progress mms photos.

In a little over a month, he gave me a ring to tell me that San Isidro was done! Now, that was fast! I picked it up on a week-end and was amazed to see a completed tableau—with all the disparate parts repaired, re-painted and then assembled on a new simple base. See what a bit of TLC can do to a santo that looked so hopeless just a few months ago:

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