Stone sculptures are one of the oldest styles of art. They’ve been used for thousands of years, long before written records began. It’s no wonder, then, that when your personal sculpture breaks into two pieces, you want it fixed.
However, paying someone to repair your sculpture can get pricey. The expense for materials plus time-consuming labor adds up to more than the artwork may have cost in the first place for the average person’s stone. The good news is that it’s not difficult to learn the skills you need to include this type of knowledge to your do-it-yourself set of talents. We’ll show you how right here.
While there’s no “one-way” method to fix every kind of damage in stonework, there are some general steps that work well when part of the stone breaks off and needs to be reconnected. Follow these ten steps, and you’ll have your stone sculpture back to masterpiece quality in no time!
Step 1. Do the prep work. Before you lay a tool on any piece of the stone, take a few minutes to prepare the area. If there is a lot of damage, set out plastic sheeting around the statue and wrap some around any fragile areas you want to protect as you’re working. Carefully remove any of the loose pieces of stone or old adhesive in the broken area.
Step 2. Collect the tools. In addition to your sheeting, you’re going to need a small container to hold the stone dust as you drill it. You’ll be drilling in the main mass of the stone of the head and the body. The dust you collect will be used later to fill in the gaps and keep the original stone’s authenticity. You’ll also need:
- A drill
- A pencil and sheet of clean paper for marking
- Water-soluble glue
- Clear epoxy
- Filler epoxy
- A metal rod (at least three inches) and a tool to cut it to size
- Acrylic and bonding materials
- Granular sand of the same size as the sculpture
- A grinder and tools for scratching the surface
- Glaze or another protective coating
Step 3. Start drilling carefully. Choosing the location of the holes you are going to drill is as much of a science as it is an art. You’re going to need to drill holes on the matching angle and area on the non-broken side and the broken side. To do this, first drill the holes on one side of the statue. Then, take a sheet of paper (any kind, as long as it is clean so no ink spreads onto the statue) and place it over the drilled surface.
Use water-soluble glue to adhere the paper to the stone. Once it dries, take a pencil and trace the stone and holes. When the holes are drawn on the paper, poke through those spots to demonstrate where the drilling took place. You’ll use those designations to mark the hole locations on the head of your granite monument or other portions so you know how to keep them in alignment.
When the epoxy is cured, it becomes harder than the stone itself. You don’t have to worry about making your granite weak because of wide holes. They just allow a little more margin for the imperfect location of the opposite drilling areas.
Step 4: Drill the other holes. Now that you have the location of the original drilled holes, you can use those marks to show you where to dig into the other broken section. Mark the spots with a pencil, and then verify that those spots are accurately aligned. After you are satisfied with the indicators, go ahead and drill matching holes on the second piece.
Step 5: Size the metal rod. The drilling is done. It’s time to clean the surfaces, removing any dust and leftover glue. Then, cut the metal rods to the size necessary to connect the stone in each drilled hole and secure it. This should be at least three inches unless your sculpture is tiny.
Step 6: Place the rods in the holes. When your metal rods are accurately sized, place them in the two holes on one side of the sculpture. Mix your epoxy and fill in the holes in the bottom and the top, then cover the surface with the connected pieces. Keep in mind that if you have fast-drying epoxy, you’re going to have to do these steps quickly. It starts to set within a couple of minutes.
Step 7: Fill in the gaps. Check to ensure the epoxy is cured. Once it is secure, take the filler epoxy and mix it with the stone dust you collected earlier. You should have a 3:7 ratio of dust to epoxy when you’re done. Use that mixture to fill the gaps between the pieces. It should take about 24 hours to set completely. Make sure it doesn’t get touched or wet during that time.
Step 8: Replicate the texture. Right now, your new connecting point where the epoxy was placed looks obvious. It stands out from the rest of the statue. You want the entire stone sculpture to blend, so it’s time to replicate the texture. When the filler cures and the statue is completely stable, use a grinder, drill, and other tools to change the texture of the surface. This will vary depending on the surface of your statue, but you should be able to poke and scratch it until everything blends together texturally.
Step 9: Finish blending. Chances are, your stone isn’t quite perfectly matching the original artwork yet. The colors are likely a little out of place, and you didn’t use the precise stone to fix the damage. It’s normal. To correct this, use matched acrylic and bonding materials. Mix them with sand in the correct grain sizes. You can paint these on or use an airbrush. Then, after that dries, apply the protective coating or sheen glaze.
Step 10: Allow to set, and you’re finished! You’ve connected the two broken pieces together, and now it’s time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Your stone sculpture is in one piece, and it looks like the masterpiece you fell in love with when you added it to your collection.