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Terra-Cotta Angel

The fix the broken angel figurine needed came from something long forgotten in their medicine cabinet.

A terra cota clay angel with his hand on his chin.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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When my wife and I got married, our friend June could not attend the wedding because she was teaching in Guatemala. “We’ll take lots of photos,” we promised.

“I’ll bring you back something special,” she said. Since June collects angels and knew we did too, we had high hopes.

Sure enough, June returned and invited us to her house, where she presented us with a Guatemalan terra-cotta angel. A little girl with flowers in her braided hair.

“Let me show you the one I got for myself,” June said. She disappeared into the bedroom. The next thing we heard was a loud crash. June’s angel was in half a dozen pieces.

“If you had only seen it!” she said. “She was a teenage version of the angel I gave you. I don’t know where I’ll get another one.”

“Don’t worry,” I reassured her. “I’ll fix it so she looks like new.”

We gathered up all the broken pieces, and back at home I glued the teen angel back together. The pieces fit perfectly, but the underlying clay was lighter than the ruddy fired surface of the terra-cotta, so the cracks were obvious. I bought orange, red and brown paints, and mixed and remixed colors, trying to cover up the blemishes. It seemed like an impossible task.

A few days later I was rummaging in the medicine cabinet when I came upon a long-forgotten tube of acne medication. For the teen angel? I wondered ruefully.

I squeezed the tube and a dab of reddish-brown ointment oozed out. Hmmmm…this might just work.

Wouldn’t you know it? The pimple cream was a perfect match for the terra-cotta skin, and the Guatemalan teen angel made it through this trial of adolescence, relatively unscathed, as once had I.

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