Wednesday 6 September 2023

Shire horse and Dray - Part 1

This ornament of a Shire Horse pulling a Dray belonged to my parents and when I was clearing their house after they passed I decided I'd like to have it as a keepsake. Sadly, during their latter years they weren't able to give such things much attention and so it had been allowed to deteriorate quite badly.

There are many wooden elements of the dray that had come unstuck or had simply broken, but I was fairly confident I could bring them back to a reasonable condition.

What I was worried about was the bridle and straps on the horse. They had become so brittle that they fell apart as I touched them. I began by treating the faux-leather straps with a leather conditioner in the hope that they would then hold together better. 

As I began removing/dismantling the horses 'tack' I was very concerned to find that someone had attempted some repairs previously and an excess of contact adhesive had actually glued some of the leather straps to the horses body. Fortunately I was able to careful remove the straps by using a sharp modelling knife, but it did leave the horse in quite a state. 
I also discovered a repaired crack suggesting that one of the legs had been broken off and glued back on. It took quite a while to do but I successfully scrapped away all of the glue without scratching or damaging the body, and I also managed to remove the excess glue from the cracked leg. I touched in with a couple of dabs of acrylic paint just to hide a couple of very small chips and render the repair almost invisible.

Next task, to tackle the harness and straps.


  1. I love how you so reverently describe how you are handling this piece. I can't wait to see how it looks when you finish.

    1. It was sad to see it in this condition and I'm pleased that my descriptions convey that. Thank you very much Joan.

  2. John under your tender care I am quite confident you will restore your piece so that all repairs will not be noticed. What a wonderful work of art. Hope you are having a delightful weekend. Hugs


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