Sculpture Restoration in Manila

Several Projects at Our Embassy and Ambassador's Residence

Manila US Flag Memorial locationFinding the Spot

I recently returned from a week in Manila and the successful completion of several projects at our embassy and ambassador's residence.

First up was relocating the exact spot where a small concrete sculpture memorializes a significant and dangerous time in our involvement in the Philippines. During World War II the Japanese briefly took over the Philippines. Just before they arrived to occupy our embassy, the small group of remaining staff gathered all our flags and burned them to prevent them from being mistreated by the invaders. The memorial marks the exact spot where the flags were burned and the ashes buried. The memorial was recently moved temporarily to protect it during construction that will last the next two years. Luckily, Dan Larson located an old photo of its location confirmed by the legend that it is '...six paces from the tree away from the ocean, and seven paces to the right...' reflecting the 13 stripes. And sure enough the legend is correct placing the memorial smack in the middle of the flower bed shown below between the two trees.

Vicente Silva Manansala
Vicente Manansala

Saving Hands and Feet

Next up was an odd job involving tile artwork adorning the pool at our ambassador's residence.

This tile design was created by the Picasso of the Philippines, Vicente Manansala (1910-1981), in the early 60's when the pool was constructed. The tile needed its sharp edges softened to prevent injury. The embassy mason and I softened over 1000 tiles thereby preventing injury to the hands and feet of swimmers.

Repairing 'Big Washers'

Next on the agenda, restoring a sculpture. There were cracks in several locations on the sculpture “Yellow Rings” by Carol Brown Goldberg, affectionately known as 'Big Washers' by the maintenance staff.

This restoration involved removing chipped paint, filling the cracks with two-part metal epoxy, sanding smooth the epoxy and paint edges, and applying several coats of three distinct matching enamel colors, lightly sanding between each coat. The artwork was moved to a location to eliminate employee exposure to harmful dust and fumes. Once fully dry and off-gassed, the sculpture was placed back in its original location for a final wipe-down with a soft cloth and mild alcohol.

repair of “Yellow Rings” by Carol Brown Goldberg
First the damaged areas were sanded smooth


Then epoxy placed in the cracks and sanded smooth


Then several coats of enamel paint applied


Finally the sculpture was cleaned and put back


One color did not exactly match so I feathered the paint to hide the mismatch. What's the saying, it's not how fine the craftwork but how well you hide the mistakes!?

2 Responses

  1. My wife and I have been wanting to find a art restoration service to help us get a sculpture fixed that was in her grandmother’s home. The sculpture has sort of been through the wringer of the years, and I think that a good restoration service would make it a whole new piece of art. You talked about removing chipped paint and filling cracks on sculptures being part of the process, which I’m sure our art piece could benefit from! Thanks to the information, and wish us luck finding a good art restoration service!

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