Concrete and more concrete

Concrete and more concrete

Oct 08


Yep, it’s been a really rainy Summer over here in good ol’ Ohio.

It’s October and I’m just now finishing up a concrete project here on the property that I planned to have had done in June or early July at the latest. The weather was more of a challenge than I anticipated this year.

This all started with a concrete pad that the previous owners had installed. The pad had cracked diagonally, and a chunk of the cement had to be removed last year to access the clean out port to our septic system (yes, they poured the pad over one of the septic system clean outs… sigh). The pad was an eye sore as well as a safety hazard with the chunk of concrete removed.

So I decided this was going to be the year to resurface the pad. Yeah, any normal person would buy a couple bags of cement resurfacer and squeegee it over the cracks and stuff to pretty it up and call it done. Nope, not me. I decided I’m going with a European worn cobblestone look with a hidden removable trap door over the septic clean out.

As I’m selling the idea to my wife, she requested I expand the project to include the grassy area between the sidewalk and the pad (from 100 sq. ft. of hardscaping to 254 sq. ft.). That turned out to be a great idea. Not only does it eliminate some precarious mowing, but it also makes for a much more natural walking path to the pad. It also gave me an excuse to use my Quickrete Country Stone Pattern pathmaker along with the new European Block Brick ones to add some extra detail to the project. Awesome!

I used about 70 eighty pound bags of Quickrete Crack Resistant concrete, 2 Quickrete European Block Brick forms, 1 Quickrete Country Stone Pattern form, 1 gallon of Quickrete High Gloss Sealer, and most importantly a concrete mixer from Harbor Freight to pull this project off.

The following pictures show the before and after of my efforts.







I still need to put polymeric sand down to lock everything in place, but for the most part all the really hard work is done and this Summer long project is finally done.


—– Brandon


A Griffin

A Griffin

Sep 13


Here’s a very rare Griffin nutcracker that came into the shop recently for some repairs.

Some of you may recognize this piece from the 2010 Nutcracker Club Convention that was hosted by Mike and Linda Pickwick in Connecticut. Mike and Linda have a fantastic collection. This is one of the pieces I took a ton of pictures of at his house. So I was thrilled to have it here in my studio for repairs. Yes, I took even more pictures of it while it was here. I really like this piece.

The Griffin came in missing a right foot, had a piece missing from the shield, and was missing the left wingtip. There were also some older repairs on the tail, right rear leg, and around the pin that needed to be removed and fixed correctly.

This piece came out great and is flawless now.

Here are some before and after photos (be sure to click on the photos for a larger view):



Griffin Before Repairs




This piece was a lot of fun to work on and is really stunning in person.

Thanks again to Mike and Linda for sending this piece in and allowing me to make it perfect for them.


—– Brandon



2014 Geauga County Fair

2014 Geauga County Fair

Aug 31


Missy works for Great Lakes Outdoor Supply in Bainbridge and they have a booth (tent) out at the Geauga County Fair this year. She’s been out there all week so Dane and I decided to head on over there to pay her a visit. Well, Dane mainly went for the Turkey Leg. :-)

She got out a little early so we got to go do some Fair stuff. It was a great night for it and we had a good time.

Here are a few pictures I snapped while wandering around:



Dane and his Turkey Leg!!!!



Dane petting the nice calm horse at the barn.



Baby goat. This little guy was cute.



This guy would growl when you got near him.



Nice shot of Missy and Dane as we were leaving the Fairgrounds.



Man on a Horse

Man on a Horse

May 10

Here’s a great piece with an even better story behind it.

There’s no way I could tell the story and do it any justice. So here’s the great story directly from Arlene Wagner (Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum):


“After the  antique shops closed on Portabello Road in London, George and I went pubbing with David Levi and Rik Gijsen.  After a few, the guys were all feeling good and one antique dealer asked Rik if he was interested in buying a nutcracker he had with him.  Said it would be 100 pounds since it was just “half a horse”  whereas a whole horse would be about 500.  A bit of dickering went on, and Rik agreed to buy “half a horse” without seeing what he was getting.  Well, indeed it is just that, the horse’s whole head and the rider’s R arm is missing!!  I have kept this thing all these years laughing each time I see it, and remembering the good times we used to have antiquing with Rik.   I think it is time to have it repaired!!!

The picture shows what I believe is a donkey, but to go with the story, I think you could make it into a horse!!    Arlene


So I did just that. Sticking to the story, I added a horse’s head and tail to this piece, stabilized and repaired the cracks, carved him new arms, and gave him some rope to fit his new role as a horse rider.

The pictures below show what the piece looked like when it came in missing all its pieces and parts. I also included a picture of what it is supposed to look like in regards to him riding a donkey then what it looks like now all converted over to a horse.

This was a very challenging piece to do, but the story behind it made it fun.

Arlene is thrilled with the piece and can’t wait for Rik to see it when he visits her this July.


Man on a Donkey

Man on a Donkey (Original)

Man on Horse (before)

Man on Horse (after)

The shop still has a steady flow of repairs coming through.

Stay tuned for some more really great pieces!

—– Brandon



Apr 06

Here’s another fantastic piece from Arlene and the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.

This ANRI Ram came in with its bottom jaw broken. Yes, another bottom jaw repair. Told ya broken jaws are common. :-)

Here are a few before and after pictures. Click on the images to see a larger version of them.


ANRI Ram - Before

ANRI Ram with the bottom jaw broken.



ANRI Ram - After

ANRI Ram all fixed.


The shop has been really busy. I can’t thank everyone enough for the steady flow of business and support.

Lots of great pieces and repairs coming up.

Stay tuned!

—– Brandon


ANRI Mouse

ANRI Mouse

Mar 18

Here’s another great piece from Arlene and the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum. This ANRI Mouse came in with its bottom jaw missing . This is usually caused by people’s misconception that the nut gets cracked in the mouth rather than in the back in the space provided under the lever. I see a lot of pieces with this type of damage. He also had a chip out of its right ear and the pin needed replaced.

I have never seen an ANRI Mouse before so I was happy to have this one in the shop. I enjoyed fixing him up so he can be put back out on display at the museum.

Here are a few before and after pictures. Click on the images to see a larger version of them.



ANRI Mouse



ANRI Mouse

More great pieces to come soon.

—– Brandon

Mustache Repair

Mustache Repair

Jan 25

Here’s another great piece Arlene Wagner brought from the Nutcracker Museum to the 2013 Nutcracker Collector Club Convention to be repaired.

This is a 19th century walnut nutcracker originally made in Switzerland.

It came in missing part of the mustache and had a wood grain crack back by the hinge. The repairs are seamless and the piece came out great.

I was very impressed with this piece. It is a high quality well carved piece with a lot of great details. You can see this piece in person along with many others at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum located in Leavenworth Washington.








More great pieces to come soon.

—– Brandon

Squirrel gets a nut

Squirrel gets a nut

Jan 13

Arlene Wagner from the Nutcracker Museum brought a few pieces to the 2013 Nutcracker Collector Club Convention to be repaired.

This nice little Squirrel Nutcracker features an adjustable lever and finely detailed markings all over. It was missing its head and the pin was varnished solid in place removing the ability to adjust it. I restored the piece’s functionality, gave this little guy a new head, and took the liberty to add a nut to the design. It’s the least I could do for this little guy after all he’s been through.

As always, be sure to click on the images for a larger view.


Squirrel Nutcracker (before)

Squirrel Nutcracker missing his little head


Squirrel Nutcracker (after)

Squirrel Nutcracker gets a nut


Squirrel details

Beautiful markings


Stay tuned for more great pieces from Arlene.

—– Brandon