Rocking horses restored to their former glory
Reporter Tao Lin discovers a secret place and its precious inhabitants. She also took the photos.
Tucked away in a spacious Mt Wellington studio four rocking horses wait for a new life.
No longer a child’s toy of choice in modern times, the horses have been brought out of storage, dusted off and given hope for the future through the loving efforts of the restoration and repair artists at Wrightway Studios.
The studio restores and repairs antiques and works of art with collectable and sentimental value.
Studio manager Trilby Conway says it’s the largest studio of its kind in the country – and possibly in the southern hemisphere.
‘‘No-one else does it on the size and scale we do,’’ she says.
The studio has been around for 25 years and started off mending china.
Now 15 restoration artists work with almost anything, including shattered glass, broken ceramic, weathered picture frames and damaged prams.
‘‘Anything can be restored. It’s just a matter of time and money.’’
A lot of people have rocking horses tucked away at home somewhere, Ms Conway says.
The studio itself has a large wooden one stored away, waiting for its turn to be worked on.
Making rocking horses is a ‘‘dying art’’ and they’re not cheap, either.
One horse on sale at the studio carries a price tag of $4950.
It’s difficult to say how long a rocking horse takes to restore because every case is different.
But Ms Conway reckons three or four months will do it.
Head artist Eason Chen says the process of restoring rocking horses involves stripping the original paint and decorations, putting on a base coat, repainting the exterior and finally adding new decorations.
Two metal rocking horses now being worked on had to have rust remove.
The restoration artists try to keep the pieces as original as possible, fixing only the damaged areas and keeping as many of the initial parts as possible, Mr Chen says.
The 51-year-old came from Guangdong province in China 18 years ago and landed a job at Wrightway Studios just two weeks after arriving in the country.
The former engineer has enjoyed restoring art from the very beginning and happily continues to do it.
‘‘It’s quite a skilled work. And everything has a culture and history behind it.’’
Finished product: A large swing stand wooden rocking horse is completely restored and looks brand new.
Packed away: An old wooden rocking horse waits high up on a shelf at Wrightway Studios, waiting to be worked on.
Trade tools: Attention to detail is key to the careful restoration work.