Bolivian craftsman restores baby Jesus figurines

Paola Flores reports for AP via Belleville News-Democrat:

AP PHOTOS: Bolivian craftsman restores baby Jesus figurines

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In this Dec. 14, 2016 photo, religious statue restorer Roberto Ramos retouches a plaster doll of infant Jesus at his workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. The Bolivian artist inherited the job from his grandfather and studied in Argentina’s School of Fine Arts. At 65, he still has the steady hands of watchmaker to replace eyelashes, restore hair and polish the wax skin of old figures of plaster, wood and maguey, some 300 years old. Juan Karita AP Photo

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In this Dec. 14, 2016 photo, religious statue restorer Roberto Ramos retouches a ceramic infant Jesus doll at his workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. At his tiny workshop, inside an old house in the center of La Paz, dozens of figurines with mangled fingers, dead eyes, haggard faces and dusty hair arrive for him to revive in time for Christmas. Juan Karita AP Photo

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This Dec. 15, 2016 photo shows an infant Jesus doll in need of repair at the workshop of religious statue restorer Roberto Ramos in La Paz, Bolivia. Ramos considers himself a simple craftsman, but each Christmas his capable hands restore the splendor to antique baby Jesus figurines. Juan Karita AP Photo

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In this Dec. 14, 2016 photo, dolls of infant Jesus fill the shelves of Roberto Ramos’ workshop where he restores religious statues in La Paz, Bolivia. At Ramos’ tiny workshop, inside an old house in the center of La Paz, dozens of figurines with mangled fingers, dead eyes, haggard faces and dusty hair arrive for him to revive. Juan Karita AP Photo

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In this Dec. 15, 2016 photo, Maria Ramos shows a doll of infant Jesus after it was restored at her father’s workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. Maria, 45, learned the skills and now is her father’s assistant. “These babies have sentimental value for their owners, they’re family relics,” she said. Juan Karita AP Photo

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In this Dec. 14, 2016 photo, religious statue restorer Roberto Ramos conforms a hairpiece on the doll of a nativity infant Jesus, at his workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. “They are mischievous, some days when I wake up their hair is uncombed,” Ramos said showing off some that he has repaired so they can be with their families on Dec. 25. Juan Karita AP Photo

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In this Dec. 14, 2016 photo, religious statue restorer Roberto Ramos retouches a plaster doll of infant Jesus at his workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. “Restoring them is more difficult than making a new one because you have to work on them respecting the form, the color that their creator gave them,” he said. Juan Karita AP Photo

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In this Dec. 16, 2016 photo, Leyla Fuentes holds dolls of infant Jesus after they were restored at Roberto Ramos’ workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. Fuentes, a client who inherited the Jesus figures from her grandparents, said she was happy with how hers came out. “Without baby Jesus there is no Christmas,” she said. Juan Karita AP Photo

 

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA – Roberto Ramos considers himself a simple craftsman, but each Christmas his capable hands restore the splendor to antique baby Jesus figurines.

At his tiny workshop, inside an old house in the center of La Paz, dozens of figurines with mangled fingers, dead eyes, haggard faces and dusty hair arrive from the United States, Italy, Spain and Peru for him to revive.

The Bolivian artist inherited the job from his grandfather and studied in Argentina’s School of Fine Arts. At 65, he still has the steady hands of watchmaker to replace eyelashes, restore hair and polish the wax skin of old figures of plaster, and wood, some 300 years old.

“The baby Jesuses they bring me here are from families that don’t want to lose them, they don’t want to change them because of the faith they have in them,” Ramos said, surrounded by half-naked saints in mid-restoration beside his bed. “They are mischievous, some days when I wake up their hair is uncombed,” he said showing off some that he has repaired so they can be with their owners on Dec. 25.

“Restoring them is more difficult than making a new one because you have to work on them respecting the form, the color that their creator gave them,” he said.

His daughter Maria, 45, learned the skills and now is his assistant.

“These babies have sentimental value for their owners, they’re family relics,” she said.

Leyla Fuentes, a client who inherited a Jesus figure from her grandparents, said she was happy with how hers came out.

“Without baby Jesus there is no Christmas,” she said.

http://www.bnd.com/entertainment/article122684709.html

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