Thursday, 8 August 2019

"I wanna see your face painted black".... A gueridon tutorial - Part 1

Hello my friends. 

Perhaps you recognise this line from 'Paint it black' by the Rolling Stones? Don't worry. I am not morrose, lovelost or depressed. But that song keeps popping up in my head when I work on this next little project.

Many of you will know gueridons. A type of sidetable/ pedestal which were quite popular from the 17th century onwards. They were highly decorative and there stem could have the shape of a collumn, a balustre or the carved figure of an animal or a human. The human figures were, depending on the size of the Gueridon, either shaped as putti, Cherubs or full grown people/ mythical figures. Blackamoor was the name given to those where the stem was carved and painted like African natives. Like the pair beneath which I found on the site of Sotheby's. Although some examples with Asian or North American Indian figures do exist. Those are very rare however. 


You may know that Mulvany and Rogers also used pairs of beautiful blackamoors made by John Hodgson in some of their dollshouses. Their version(s) of Versailles has them for example. The photo beneath depicts them, though not in a Versailles setting. 

For a large countryhouse like Huis ter Swinnendael a pair of this kind of gueridons or torchères may still be a bit too grand but I believe that Carel Polyander Zonneschut could have brought them back from his ambassadorship in Paris. So with that in mind I started sketching...

Remember the two 'clock angels' I bought at a fleamarket last year and used to adorn a wall mounted clock? I did not quite know what to do with them. Their faces did not have the right proportions for classical angels. And their bodies were quite elongated. A few weeks ago I got the idea of trying to turn them in a pair of gueridons/ blackamoors. But how should I proceed from here?

First I had to rid them of there wings. They are made in the second half of the 20th century and made from a cheap alloy called spelter. So if my attempt should fail, the loss of them would not be that great. I took a pair of plyers to hand and ripped the wings of their back.

It is not as cruel as it sounds. Luckily they did not feel a thing. ;-) Next I proceeded to repair their backs. I shaped the 'wounds' of the remaining wingattachment with needlefiles, and used filler paste to fill the holes. Lastly I used coarse and fine grade sandpaper to smooth them up. Now they were ready to be painted.

Then I aplied black enamel paint to blacken their bodies. I tried one with black and one with gold coloured hair. I sticked with the gold. The tone difference between the black and gold is always quite apealing. Blackened and gilded bronzes are to be found in almost every antique shop or grand house.  My gueridons will not be real blackamoors in the sence that they are gold haired putti.

But where to go from here? The bases and the crowns and how I will make them will be shown in part 2. Be well and enjoy the summer!