Rock­ing horses re­stored to their for­mer glory

Reporter Tao Lin dis­cov­ers a se­cret place and its pre­cious in­hab­i­tants. She also took the pho­tos.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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