Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Geddes Dragons restored to glory

Four decorative dragons from Wardrop's Court are being carefully conserved.

Mar 14, 2012

The dragons date to the 1890s and were part of an initiative by Patrick Geddes to regenerate the Old Town, two of them being carved by his own son Arthur. They taken down in November last year and moved to the workshop at the Museum Collection Centre for conservation, where their condition was assessed and recorded.

The dragons were closely examined through a microscope, revealing the different layers of paint. This showed that they were originally a blue colour, with gilding on areas of carved detail such as on the head, feathered wings, teeth, and claws.

The loose and flaking paint was removed and loose elements reattached to the carvings. Specialist wood carver John McRitchie has replaced all the missing features with new limewood. This has included missing teeth, parts of the tails, feathers off the wings, and the tips of the 'combs' on the dragons head. Two volunteer conservators, James Muldoon and Georgina Vanhof, have also been helping out with the project.

On return to the workshop, cracks in the wood have been filled and all four of the dragons were sanded down and prepared for undercoating and repainting.

The dragons have now all been primed, undercoated and top-coated with oil based paint,  as close to the original blue as possible. Areas to be gilded are currently being prepared and sized with 24 hour traditional oil size, and covered with double thickness 23 ¾ carat yellow transfer gold.


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