How to repair a plaster figurine

Written by melissa j. bell
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Plaster, although it is a versatile and useful art material, is also very fragile. Statues and figurines made from plaster can be easily chipped or scratched by harder objects, and can break into many pieces if dropped. While the most seamless way to fix a plaster figurine is to replace it by sculpting another or by recasting the broken figurine in a mould, it is also very time-consuming and uses a great deal of materials. To return a broken plaster figurine to its original state without replacing the original figurine entirely, you must reattach all separated pieces, fill in any holes and repair the surface damage.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Broken plaster figurine
  • Elmer's glue
  • Bucket
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper
  • Artist's spatula
  • Armature wire
  • Wire clippers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Erase any damage that has been done by prior attempts to repair the figurine. Scrape off any Superglue or other glue products with the spatula, and pull apart the attempted repairs. If the broken sides of any part of the figurine have lost their porous quality due to prior repair jobs, scrape the first layer of plaster off this part of the figurine.

  2. 2

    Locate the largest broken-off fragments of the plaster figurine, such as a head, arm or leg. Gouge a deep hole, using the spatula, into the broken side of the fragment. Gouge a matching hole on the figurine where the fragment is supposed to sit, so that the holes meet when the fragment is reattached to the figurine. Wet the whole broken side of the fragment as well as the figurine.

  3. 3

    Mix a small amount of plaster in a bucket, and drop a gob of plaster onto the hole in the figurine. Cut a piece of wire that is as long as the added depth of the two holes and insert it into the hole in the figurine.

  4. 4

    Fill the hole in the broken fragment with plaster, then fit the fragment back onto the figurine, so that the wire also goes into this hole. Hold the fragment steady until the plaster hardens.

  5. 5

    Locate smaller fragments and glue them into their respective places on the figurine with white Elmer's glue. Let the glue dry on each fragment before moving on.

  6. 6

    Mix a small batch of plaster to repair the smallest fractures, scrapes and surface damage. Wet the cracked plaster with a paintbrush so that it will better adhere to the new plaster. Apply a thin layer of plaster over the fractured area and let it set, then scrape away the excess with the spatula.

  7. 7

    Let the plaster harden completely. Sand down any bumpy repaired areas or scratches.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid getting the plaster figurine wet after making a full repair. Repaired plaster is not as strong as regular plaster, and you may cause your repairs to fall apart.

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