Are Dragons Lucky? - Hand Carved Panel Restoration

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 11-29-2010 06:15 AM 2405 views 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So this is a reasonably simple explanation – a hand carved dragon panel arrives in a condition lacking any finish but having lots of dirt, grime, residual paint residues, etc and of course it’s cracked and twisted and whatever was glued on was falling off.

We – the restorers – are tasked with removing all the old paint and grime, filling the cracks, sealing the piece and applying appropriate layers and textures of gold, red, and black paint. Traditional Asian colors for carvings of this nature.

Our final task is working out a mounting method, not sure yet probably a cable or eye hook configuration to allow the piece to flex as it needs too. If we force it flat, it will stress the piece and probably crack it again.
This was a fun, slightly tedious, but fun project as the transformation contrast is drastic. No question we can see the results of our efforts!

Eric M. Saperstein
Master Craftsman
Artisans of the Valley

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

17 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4028 days

#1 posted 11-29-2010 06:25 AM

That looks like quite a project! Well done!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4051 days

#2 posted 11-29-2010 06:42 AM

It turned out real nice, I have to say the work you do is incredible. I stay away from restoration because there is guys like you and I am no good at it. I think dragons are only lucky if they decide not to eat you.

View Pawky's profile


278 posts in 3813 days

#3 posted 11-29-2010 08:19 AM

wow that looks tedious. it turned out looking fantastic

View TJ65's profile


1405 posts in 4059 days

#4 posted 11-29-2010 10:12 AM

wow what a transformation, it is amazing what a little elbow grease can achieve!

-- Theresa,

View rdlaurance's profile


381 posts in 4356 days

#5 posted 11-29-2010 10:17 AM

A beautiful save!
That should reward you with untold amounts of luck…. think lottery….LOL

-- Rick, south Sweden

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3866 days

#6 posted 11-29-2010 10:28 AM

Eric that is a nice piece.
I can imagine the work it took to restore, probably longer than it took to carve initially.
Looks like the front panel of a Puja table.
What size is it.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 5034 days

#7 posted 11-29-2010 02:17 PM

I think “slightly tedious” is an understatement. I agree about forcing it flat. Carving that intricate, especially pierced work, causes the wood to take on a life of its own, no matter how even the grain. Once it moves, there’s almost no going back.

An excellent restoration.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View mmh's profile


3682 posts in 4732 days

#8 posted 11-29-2010 03:39 PM

You’ve done the piece justice with your beautiful restoration efforts. Fixing problems, especially works of others is always tedious and pain staking but it can also bring more knowledge to your craft. Well done indeed, as it would have been ashame to see this piece destroyed in it’s deteriorated state before you saved it.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5256 days

#9 posted 11-29-2010 09:39 PM


-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View misslolly's profile


52 posts in 3810 days

#10 posted 11-29-2010 10:43 PM

As much as I hate cleaning I enjoy a cleaning job where you can see where you’ve been. Its amazing that items like this get junked in the first place.

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

View woodchic's profile


841 posts in 4367 days

#11 posted 11-30-2010 12:40 AM

Awesome job!


-- Robin Renee'

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4730 days

#12 posted 11-30-2010 03:22 AM

Holy Cow! That’s amazing, both the original carving and the resoration work you did.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View grosa's profile


1037 posts in 3839 days

#13 posted 11-30-2010 04:37 AM

My hats off to you, you did an amazing job.

-- Have a great day.

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 4116 days

#14 posted 12-01-2010 08:35 AM

I had to look twice to see if it was just like the one I have hanging in my dinning room. Nice job, I can only imagine how much work it was to refinish. I sure am glad my panel is still in good condition.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 4257 days

#15 posted 01-18-2012 06:02 AM

Check out: – Blog feature of this project on !

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

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