Leaving the Sculpture Attached to the Base - Throughout the project I have discussed progress and plans with my wife Pam during our morning coffee. When I told her about removing the sculpture from its base in preparation for the move to the library she reminded me that the GYMC sculpture called Celebration had the arm cracked during an incident when removed it from the base. To keep the Princess safe, it would be best to leave her attached to the upper base. It would be heavy and awkward to move, but that was the best option.
Installing Slate Tiles - Since I have no experience installing slate tiles I referenced You Tube for guidance. A quick trip to Canadian Tire was needed to buy some tools then I mixed the mortar, spread it over the wood base pieces and applied the slate tiles.
Sealing the Sculpture and the Slate Tiles - One of the tips I learned on You Tube was that slate was so porous that it needed to be sealed before grouting or it would suck the water out of the grout making it difficult to apply. Using disposable paint brushes I painted sealer to the top of the crown then worked my way down the sculpture, over the hair, face, arms, bag, legs and feet. Once satisfied that all runs and drips were fixed and all loose brush hairs plucked off the sculpture I sealed the slate tiles too.
Applying Grout - The next day I mixed some grout which was charcoal in colour and thought that this was a high risk activity, not a risk to the sculpture, but a risk to our house. If I spilled the dark grout anywhere it would create a terrible mess and be very difficult to clean up. Utmost care was needed and no accidents were allowed. Using a floating tool I pressed grout into the grooves between tiles and scrapped of any excess. I wiped the tiles with a large wet sponge, wrung it out in a pail of water then repeated until the water in the pail was filthy. Carefully I carried the pail from the studio which was upstairs in our home, down to the basement where I dumped it into the laundry tub, rinsed it out, refilled it with clean water then headed back upstairs. It took about five trips of washing and dumping to wash the excess grout off the slate tiles. The studio floor suffered a few charcoal splash drops but fortunately there was no spill crisis. I ran out of grout when only two thirds of the grooves were filled. I was tired and my back was fatigued and I knew that if I mixed another batch of grout there was a good chance of me spilling so I opted to wait and finish the following day.
One Last Polish - By rubbing an old cloth on the tiles I removed the faint residue of grout and made the slate shine again. I thought about resealing the base to make the grout shiny too but decided that the contrasting sheens gave the base more texture.
Bronze Cast Quote - Winterstone was strong but the Paper Bag Princess' arms were so thin that there was a risk of being broken during an accident. As a backup plan I sent pictures to get a quote of how much it would cost to make a bronze cast. My worst case scenario was that if the sculpture got broken, I could patch her back together temporarily and have a bronze cast made for the library. The quote came back at $13,000. Wow! My addendum to the backup plan was to have someone fundraising to pay for the bronze cast if needed.
On moving day Mike and his son carried the heavy pieces into his truck, secured them in place and drove to the library. I followed behind in my car.
Kitty, Lisa and many other library staff guided us to the Paper Bag Princess' new home on the second floor of the downtown library. We put her in place then wrapped a large sheet around her to hide her until the unveiling.
Commemorative Plate - I bought a brass plate from Champion's Choice and when I picked it up, asked them to place a couple more sticky strips to the back to keep it securely attached to the slate tiles. I knew that they would have to endure cleaning, bumping and possible picking for years. On my way home I stuck it to the base in front of the princess. I stood back and paused while thinking, "My time with you is almost over. Thanks for sharing this incredible adventure with me."