Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kachina Repair, Cleaning & Maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance of your Kachina doll:
Use an artist paintbrush to brush away any dust that has accumulated, this is the only way to actually clean your doll. 

Do Not use any form of liquid or even a damp cloth as this will melt the kaolin white clay ‘duma’ base. For instance: A woman came in with 2 dolls that her housekeeper had ‘cleaned’ with Windex, the result was a catastrophe, they looked like a clown after he’d been sprayed with a garden hose or just plain bad mascara after you’d been crying all day.

As for repairs to a doll that has been dropped or purchased with missing parts, go to a professional. I have been repairing Kachinas and wood carvings since 1980. I’ve gone so far as to travel to the Hopi mesas and ask permission to repair certain items and have been granted access to gathering materials for the repairs.

Bad glue (such as Gorilla Glue) leads to more complications down the road, such as staining and misalignment of the pieces. 

Lost pieces can be replaced. Feathers can also be replaced, but if you start to see tell tale signs of feather damage place your doll in direct sunlight for a few days, turning him in all 4 directions each day, this should kill most feather mites. If you can place the doll into a sealed plastic bag this will speed the process of killing the mites.

Often times a broken foot is a good indicator of age and of your doll being the real deal. Feet are the first part of a doll to break when played with, usually the toe tip winds up lost, this too can be replaced.

I’m not big on attaching dolls to bases of any sort, I prefer a kachina to be hung on a wall usually over a window or doorway. Try to resist the ‘southwest’ style of hanging them over the fireplace or placing them onto a fireplace mantel, the heat and smoke will eventually do irreparable damage.

I have repaired Kachinas and Santos for some of the Best Collectors and Museums. People have been finding me by word of mouth, I am careful and patient. Removing excessive old glue repairs is just one of the things I do. Gathering the correct materials is also a time consuming aspect of the repair work.

The doll in the photo here had been colored with crayons by an ambitious child. It took me 4 days to clean it all off and repair any damage to the original paint. I was told that the tableta was made from recycled fruit crate wood, this had been cracked and repaired with traditional butchers cotton string. This particular doll was sold rather quickly, a Hemis doll is one of the most beautiful and desirable of Hopi carvings. I took it off the wall and handed it to a couple that were interested in it. The gentleman would not hand it back to me, he was delighted, telling me this is the best doll he'd seen on his trip and that he had to have it. This wasn't just about making the customer happy, I was happy that this really nice man purchased this great jewel of a kachina, one that took my breath away!

My repairs average $100. per repair. I will get back to you quickly with an estimate if your doll is something I choose to restore for you. IF it is not, I  may or may not get back to you. I do not know of any restoration people who I would trust to do work for myself, which means that I can not recommend someone else.
My turnaround on restoration is 8-10 WEEKS, meaning patience. 
You will need to ship or deliver your doll to me, and you will need to pay for return shipping. I ONLY use USPS, (UPS has been careless with packages). I require payment up front for repairs.

Please Note: 
If you NEED a doll repaired, the first thing to do is: 
Otherwise, you have wasted my time and yours.
I have a tendency to fall behind with repairs, they seem to all turn up at once. 
I am now ONLY repairing Older than 1960's Hopi Kachina Dolls. 
I will not be repairing any sort of Contemporary or Navajo Dolls.
 Absolutely None.
What I do is Time Consuming and needs to be done with my head into it. 
I have a standardized price list which I use for reference on all repair estimates. 
Chances are strong that I will turn down most repairs. 
I can no longer do everything that I once could do.
Thank You for understanding.

IF You choose to 'do it yourself' ask for my complete Kachina Repair Kit Instructions the fee for this is $75.

For repair service please contact us at:
Two Graces, PO Box 1587, Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557
We are located in the historic district of Taos at 105 Barela Lane

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