How To Restore (And Paint) A Mary Statue

Catholic families love to have a Mary garden to display at their home. Often this is in a “Mary Garden”. The statue can be big or small, new or old, and they all have the same purpose: To honor Mary in our homes and have a place to go for reflective prayer. But what if your Mary statue is looking… a little under the weather. I´m going to tell you step by step how I restored my own Mary statue! Hopefully I can inspire you to do the same.

I have been working on restoring our Mary statue and sharing the story over on Instagrm, which you can see here. Thank you to all of you who have been following along in this process and been so encouraging! 

We have had a Mary statue for years that I got from a flea market when we were on vacation at the beach. I had been looking for an affordable version for awhile, and then there she was! Sadly, the people at the store were referring to her at “graveyard Mary”. She had been there for quite awhile, and they thought no one would ever buy her. I was happy to rescue her and get a good deal at the same time! And she actually turned out to be an Immaculate Heart Mary. I was thrilled!!!

Now driving her home to South Carolina actually proved to be more of a challenge than I originally anticipated, but we made it happen. lol. Look how little Lydia was when I firt got this statue!!! She’s 14 now. Sniff sniff.

The concrete of this statue was never in the best shape, and her thumbs were broken off, but we loved her anyway. Well fast forward a few years when my kids knocked her over throwing a big stick in the yard. She ran into our rock wall and her head broke off. I was sad, and I glued it back on, but the glue ran and she was a mess.

Our Mary statue was like this for about a year. Her overall condition was making me sad at this point and my thought was… well I may as well try something new because I can no longer really ruin this statue. 

Not only did she constantly have glue drips visible, but the concrete had cracked all around her neck where the head came off. So even paint alone wasn’t going to restore this statue.

Step 1 For Restoring Your Mary Statue: Plaster

First, we filled in the broken and damaged bits with plaster. I used canned spackle. You need an indoor/outdoor version if you statue stays outside, which ours does. Do not get “flexible” filler. You need something that dries hard. 

Me and Violet went to town! She plastered the back while I did the front. Do your best but don’t worry about it being perfect- that is what the tedious step of sanding is going to do for you.

Make sure you fill in any low or bumpy places. Ours had a seam all the way down her sides that I was able to fill in as well as the crack around her neck.

Let the plaster dry thoroughly. 

Step 2 For Statue Restoration: Sanding

This is probably the least fun and most time consuming part. You need to sand the plaster smooth. 

Practice in the back and then move to the front. Take extra care around important places like her face, and don’t fret too much over the bigger parts. You can use a course grit sand paper. I only used a fine grit on her face. 

At this part of the process, your statue will look pretty awful lol.

Don’t worry. She is ready to go now and we are going to work some magic.

Step 3 To Restore Your Statue: Paint 

Before you paint it you need to thoroughly sweep off the powder from sanding her. I used a course bristled broom. Dust her off until she seems fairly clean. 

For outdoor statues, you will want to get an exterior paint. I grabbed this can of Rustoleum brand paint. I wish they paid me to promote them but unfortunately, they don´t haha. However, I freaking love Rustoleum brand paint. Mine said for interior and exterior. 

For my statue, I decided that I would paint Mary solid white and only her mantle would have color on it. I was inspired by Wanda Gontijo on Instagram. Her Mary statues are absolutely beautiful and she often uses this technique!

You can see some examples of her work here, here, and here

I was very excited to discover this technique because painting a face can be very intimidating and difficult, and I really did’t want to do it. So I went to work painting the mantle blue and the front white.

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It took 2 coats of the paint to look nice.

Once I got the paint on there, Mary stated looking much better right away! It really transformed this statue!

I painted her with a 2 inch brush as well as I could, then I came back with a smaller brush for the edges. It doesn’t really take a super long time, you just need to have some patience on the edges.

You could totally be finished here, and the statue is beautiful! I just wanted a few more detail touches in paint. First, I wanted to accent her Immaculate Heart, which was actually very hard to notice on the concrete version.

I went through several stages of painting this heart and changed the colors several times. But eventually I was happy. I also decided her mantle needed just a little something, and that something should be gold. So I used a metallic gold paint to paint in her belt. Then I came in with a very dry brush and highlighted the folds in the mantle with some gold paint.

Here is the final version of what the Immaculate Heart looks like…

I decided to also paint her base golden.

Display Your Statue!

We happily moved our statue into the brand new Mary garden we made, and I absolutely love her! 

I love our tiny Mary garden! I decided to move her to the back yard where we can enjoy her more and use the space for prayer. There is more privacy in the back yard.

The kids are super excited! I find that they are always more invested when they themselves have helped with the project. (Violet got temporary tattoos for her birthday and she went crazy with them today. So please excuse her Cheetah face lol.) 

I hope this was helpful to you and possibly inspires you to give your own Mary statue a make over. 🙂

Once you have your statue ready, check out my post on how to start your own Mary garden

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out my other resources on how to honor Mary with kids.

Comments

  1. Brenda Moreira says

    Hi Lacey,
    You and your daughters did a wonderful job restoring your beautiful Blessed Mother statue! She’s all set for May 13! Your daughters are beautiful also!
    God bless you all. May you all stay healthy and safe!
    Blessings,
    Brenda Moreira
    South Dartmouth, MA

  2. Deborah says

    I have a Mary in my Mary garden and although she needed some sprucing up, I felt so intimidated I didn’t dare do anything but paint her white. Then I read this and I’m so inspired! I just finished with the plaster step and will start the sanding tomorrow. So excited to have found your tutorial! Thank you!

  3. Stephanie says

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I see that you used Rustoleum for the base coat, what type of paint did you use for the other colors? Maybe I missed it in the explanation? We are excited to transform our Mary statue!

    • I used cheap acrylic craft paint. Not sure if it will hold up outside. Use at your own risk lol. So far so good for our statue!

  4. Tracy Gentry says

    She looks beautiful.

  5. chris horsfield says

    My Mary statue has been outside so many years now that there is quite a large hole at the top of the head. It would be great to have her looking all fresh and reinvigorated. As you say, I can no longer really ruin my statue. I will look for some ‘canned spackle’ if there is such a thing in the U.K. Lovely restoration job – well done. Mr Chris.

  6. Beautiful! Great job,

  7. David Stricker says

    I have a very old large St. Francis Statue. It has a chipped nose. Do you think I can spackle a good nose job? Did you spackle in some of Mary’s fingers that may have been chipped away? Great ideas and results. I will try it. Plan B is to have it restored by some artist but I doubt it will look much better. THANKS!

  8. Jacob Mattson says

    What color blue did you use?

  9. Your Mary Garden is BEAUTIFUL. You’ve inspired me to touch up and beautify mine.

  10. Stella Ott says

    I was hoping you’d have paint for the skin. I’m in search for what color to use to restore pain on the face. 🙁

  11. I used DecoArt patio paint color:Sandy Shore for the face, hands, feet. I can not post the picture here but I can send you an email with the finished product if you would like.

  12. Patty Houghton says

    Hello,
    I am needing to repaint a Mother Mary hard molded plastic statue for a friend. It is quite old as it was her Mothers. Can you please help me to know the best way I can accomplish this task?
    Thank you in advance and God Bless,
    Patty

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