Cherub Shields for the Jantzen Beach Carousel

MPF Conservation conserved and restored the Decorative Elements of the Jantzen Beach Carousel; this page outlines the assessment, treatment and recommendations based on Cherub Shields #6 and #17.

Note: Sometimes images are shown out of order to tell a story.


Eighteen cherub shields, called “overhead shields” in the 1995 appraisal, sit between the rounding boards, top right, and allow the cornice of the carousel to begin to make the curve.

Cherub Shield #6 and #17 were brought into the studio for assessment and treatment; #6 is shown below.

The shields are 29 x 48-inches, with an overall depth that is 3.5-inches, but with the mechanical aspects of the lighting come to about 6-inches, shown above right. They are built from five 1″ thick pine boards of varying width, with thick relief carvings applied onto the front, and attach to the rounding boards with huge bolts.

Eight electrical lights with floral surrounds in bright yellow and red brighten the cherubs, shown right.

All the decorative items applied to the front are hand-carved, which can be easily seen in the differences of the two cherub faces above, #17 and #6, in studio, and the three cherubs shields below which did not come into the studio for assessment.

Treatment of Cherub Shield #17

MPFC decided to fully treat the structural issue of the splitting shield on #17, below.

The cherub shield construction departed from the construction methods used for the other carousel decorative elements. They were constructed from solid pine planking with grain structures running horizontal to form the body of the shield, shown above.

The relief carved elements which form the decorative front of the shield (two details above) are applied to the boards with large construction brads.

Detail of an applied rose, left.

Above, examples of the splitting damage occurring on the shields:

  • On #17, a center leaf lifting away, which would eventually break completely
  • On #17, a split carved flower surround of an electrical socket
  • On #6, the front of the shield splitting away from the back;
  • On #6, a detail of the top showing the relief carving cracking, and this would ultimately lead to failure

The pine planking has two large boards applied vertically which provide a mounting surface for the large bolts which secure the shield to the steel structure (cornice structure), image number two, below. The supporting boards also provided additional structural stability against the bouncing motion of the cherub shields, and the larger cracked areas happened above the boards.

Years of environmental degradation (temperature fluctuations, rain, pollutants, etc.) occurred within the pine planking, making the cells in the boards spongy. When the 1995 restoration occurred the shields were dip-stripped, causing the boards to lose even more strength. Once mounted again on the cornice structure for full operation, the inherent vibrations of the movement going around and starting/stopping made the upper portions of the shields flex, eventually splitting the planking along the grain lines.

Above, Mitchell padded the front of the shield to protect it when he worked on it from the back. It was secured to the worktable for most of the process with huge clamps.

The support boards were removed from the back, and then cleaned of debris which worked its way under the boards, image number three above and right.

Mitchell filled existing holes on the back panels using various hardwood picks, inserted using hide glue, allowed to cure and then cut flat to the back face of the shield, above.

Mitchell used ®Araldite to fill knots (such as the one shown in images 3-4) and other anomalies, above. (®Araldite was a museum approved carvable bulking compound with crush strengths similar to wood, and we do not know why it disappeared from the market.)

Mitchell chose a restorative process to insure the shields would not crack again.

The final step was to reinforce the entire cherub shield, above. Instead of the two shorter boards, MPFC created two long stair-stepped boards which reinforced the entire length of the back.

The back of the shield was cleaned of decades of grime in order to further assess each board as we reinforced it. Marine grade plywood board was affixed to the back. The plywood was cut into the contours, then sealed with shellac to minimize expansion and contraction during seasonal relative fluxuations.

Each contoured board sat on each side of the middle, where decorative parts were attached. Bores were created for the screws, and the long contoured reinforcing boards were installed, above.

The electrical lines were double checked for viability and their trajectory cleaned up so that they did not interfere with the hanging of the shield.

Above and right, details and over all images of the backs of the two shields, Cherub Shield #6 and Cherub Shield #17.

Note each shield is slightly different. MPFC reminds you that the shields (and all the many decorative parts) were hand-carved, and so, each is slightly different. We do not know if they were carved by different people; it is likely so. It is not noticeable when you are watching the carousel go round and round, but when they are laying on the tables it is easy to see their differences, both in configuration and carvings.

Below, two videos where Mitchell discusses the Cherub Shields: