Saturday was a day of truth. Could North Beach handyman Sean O’Donnell put the mural pieces back together again? I really wasn’t sure.
The muralist Vranas and I joined Della and Lapo at their Emerald Tablet art workshop and gallery to help Sean lift the heavy mural onto his operating table.
We placed the mural side down so Sean could work on the backside. He had to remove the drywall from the studs. Then he had to align the two pieces so that the image on the other side lined up perfectly. “If the seam doesn’t match perfectly I may not be able to repaint it,” Vranas warned.
Sean has to work blind. Fine measurements were checked, Sean reached underneath to feel the seam. “How is he going to be able to do this?” I thought. “He can’t see the face of the mural.”
I ran across the street to the gift shop at the National Shrine of St. Francis. Pulcinella was with us but we needed more firepower. I bought a statue of Assisi of St. Francis in an “illumination” pose and put him facing the mural on the table where the mural fragments were laid. Maybe he will help enhance Sean’s perception.
When we all gathered on Sunday I was taken aback as I entered the back gallery. Sean’s expert repair looked beautiful to me. “Your a genius,” I told him. “You put it all back together again!” We agreed on a plan to flip the mural. The moment of truth had arrived. Will all the pieces be properly aligned?
Oh my God it worked! The mural is back in one piece. Della and Sean meticulously checked the seam where the circular saw ripped the mural in two. This was a critical area. If the two pieces weren’t perfectly joined the restoration might be doomed.
Vranas walked the mural, stopping here, running a finger over the surface there. “It’s a miracle, everything fits perfectly,” he exclaimed. “Thank you St. Francis,” I mumbled to myself. I still don’t believe that Sean was able to accomplish this feat. “Bravo,” we all yelled in unison. Now the restoration of the mural could start. Sean packed up his tools and turned the project over to Vranas and Della.
“You like puzzles?” Vranas asked as I stood over him. He and Della were gluing the small fragments into place. Once the adhesive cured they would carefully join them to the mural.
There was a void in the upper corner that Della filled with plaster. The large corner fragment and a hang-nail piece flapping freely on loose webbing could both be attached. This is the last marriage for today. We’ll let everything cure for 24-hours. When we come back on Tuesday Vranas and Della will attach the rest of the fragments and fill the remaining voids.
Vranas will bring his paints and if possible he’ll start repainting the parts that we glued in place today. I can’t wait.
Gotta be done in just 5 more days.