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September 09, 2016

Dirty Angel


“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free…”  -Michelangelo

On the Gonzaga campus, there sits a lonely angel, offering holy water at the entrance of St. Aloysius cathedral. A hundred years of dipping fingers in the water, leaving behind dirt, oil, hand lotions and the like, contaminating the old, unsealed sculpture to the point of needing some serious TLC. The base of the sculpture, a marble-clad wooden structure had also deteriorated to the point of not only being unsightly, but dangerous considering the amount of weight it was now straining to support.


Enter Mario & Son...


Some parts of the sculpture were so badly stained that even a vigorous cleaning couldn’t improve. Sections like the clam-shaped bowl had to be completely re-sculpted in order to get past the deep scratches and embedded stains. 


The years of grime and neglect had penetrated deep within the stone, and the sculpture was badly chipped as well, requiring repair and re-finishing of the entire piece.



The brilliant white of the Carrara marble reappeared as we re-abraded the surface. We even gave the angel a day at the “spa” for a facial of clay poultice in attempt to draw out the remaining deep-set stains that were beyond the reach of refinishing. Further sanding of the sculpture would have begun to alter the original appearance.



We engineered and manufactured the new base so that it “floats” on casters, along with a brake to keep it from rolling once in place. The brake is accessed by a removable, magnetic side panel which will allow the option of rolling outdoors for pressure washing in the future if needed.


A subtle cross with a design that coincides with the rest of the church was inlaid into the side panels because… well… it was added because we could.


Once complete in the shop, the entire work was sealed thoroughly, and now awaits delivery back to the church. 


“I saw the angel underneath the dirt and cleaned, scrubbed and sanded until I set him free.”  Take that Michelangelo!




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Posted by Larry M Hood on
Hello, Joey

I am very interested in picking up this story for the Slippery Rock Gazette.

Would you be interested in participating in getting this story published in print?

Best Regards,
Larry Hood,
Editor, SRG
Posted by Phillip Lee on
Master Joey,

First of all, thank you very much for sharing your life stories with various stones. Your craftsmanship just amazed me and literally popped up open a cap that has been sitting on top of my jar and I just had to leave a comment to let you know how honored I am to second hand experience your work by reading your blog. Thank you, thank you and thank you. Please be well and safe! best of luck to you and I look forward to get to see your next post.


Phillip Lee
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