Holly Holland does what “all the Kings horses and all the Kings men” couldn’t do. She puts Humpty Dumpty together again. Yes she does! And she does it over and over again.
She’s done it so often over the past 20 years that the former Dallas Art Institute student has built a growing reputation for doing the “almost impossible” work restoring art objects.
Her art and her occupation allow her to live anywhere she chooses and she chose the rolling terrain and pine trees of East Texas.
Customers, old and new, keep shipping packages to her Hawkins, Texas location from places like Dallas, Baton Rouge, Houston, Washington State, North Carolina, Canada and Georgia.
Those packages are always filled with modern day Humpty Dumpties in need of repair.
She deals with fine porcelains and pottery, Boehm, Lladro, Cybis, Royal Worchester and much more. But what she really works with are the hopes and minds of her customers who have lost something very precious to them. And that might be an object of great monetary value or it might simply be something with heart-tugging sentimental worth.
In either case she calls her studio, which is an eight mile drive from her country home in rural Wood County, her “home away from home.”
Her work is often much like dealing with a three dimensional puzzle. The pieces on the tables and under the bright lights in front of her very often represent shattered dreams and memories and it’s her job to heal the wounds, both figuratively and realistically.
Her customers can range from antique shops to those individuals who are sometimes quite secretive. They sometimes arrive, asking for the near-impossible… that she not only restore the broken object to “like-new” but that she do so in a matter of a few days.
She admits to being asked to restore one piece that “almost gave me a heart attack and made me think of going into nursing.”
She says she had to “say a prayer” over those “umpteen pieces” and thought she’d “met her match.” Like all the others before it, she stayed with the project until it was finished.
There was the Hummel that had to be rebuilt in a weekend for what she says was “a mystery customer.” And she did it.
There was another customer who brought her a sentimental tea pot. It was in more than 100 pieces that he’d kept for over 20 years until he found someone he was comfortable with, to restore it like new.
“He didn’t think I’d do it,” she laughs. “I guess I’m insane. I sometimes amaze me.”
She finds herself reaching out for English putty and coatings, as well as many U.S. products, as she cleans, brushes, sands and glues.
“What ever it takes to make them happy,” and she says it like she means it.
The day we met her, she had a recently delivered Griffin that had at one time sat in front of a Belgium castle, an armless art object by Mexican artist Rodo Padella and an Edward Marshall Boehm blue bird that were in various stages of restoration.
There was also a large porcelain bowl that had only sentimental value to the owner. And that, she said proudly, got the same care that all the others received.
She restores objects to various levels, from simple conservation to “full invisible,” where you can’t tell it was ever broken.
Holly can be found at her www.renewalfactory.com website.