Create & Make

DIY: Fixing my Mexican Alebrije

This is my alebrije from Oaxaca, Mexico named “Mushu” It was a present from my last trip to Mexico, I know it sounds crazy naming a decorative accessory but it’s my new favorite piece. I love painted wood, and alebrijes are just amazing, all the detail, technique, and the thousands of small figures that are painted and hidden there.

Back from Mexico in the airplane I packed my alebrije in my bag and even I protected it with a lot of socks, but none the less a leg was broken, part of the tail as well and I could not find several of toes. First I was sad thinking that I would not be able to repair it and it was just going to look weird and broken, since it was already broken, I figured I couldn’t do much more damage, and decided to try and fix it.

  • Identify the damage so you can quantify and determine the materials you will need and make a list before shopping so you don’t forget anything.Take the piece with you to make sure you choose the exact colors and finishes.

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  • For the broken pieces use  white wood glue or a few drops of super transparent glue.

  • Scrape can be repaired with a little paint in a similar tone.

  • You can use any small brush and acrylic paint that are cheap and easy to find. If you need to polish you can use a transparent protective layer of polyacrylic.

  • If the wood is porous, I recommend sanding before painting to avoid a rough finish. You can use a nail file for small details.

  • Paint both broken pieces so when you glue them small holes don’t appear, often the wood is cracked and the pieces don’t fit perfectly. Don’t leave spaces without paint not even the smaller ones.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, people notice mistakes less than you think.

Although it wasn’t perfect the paint helped me a lot to hide some pieces I have lost.  I didn’t find all the toes for example, but I painted the toenails of the broken foot like the other one. People see the colors and don’t realize that there are two different feet and one has missing toes.

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Try to fix a broken wood pieces that you have in your house, it is broken anyway what do you have to loose? xoxo Elba

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