Once a reputable artist based out of the Chicago area, Lisa Parr began to receive carousel animals in need of repair over 35 years ago and she’s never looked back. Ms. Parr is one of the most sought-after specialists in the restoration of antique carousels, performing the recovery of original paint, re-carving, wood replacement and re-painting – faithful to factory documentation – for museums, cities, and collectors.
According to Ms. Parr, she’s learned by doing: asking old carousel survivors, reading the few available books, and researching restoration. She quickly began to incorporate her sculptural skills and historical knowledge of paint and created a business in which she restores and conserves 2 and 3 dimensional wooden figures of full-sized antique wooden carousel animals and related wooden figures.
Ms. Parr notes that the old carousel carvers and painters were classically trained artisans from Europe; their shapes were flowing and dynamic, and their paints glowed.
With much to learn from their techniques, and she feels that she has no right to change them and has therefore earned her reputation for historically accurate restoration. Ms. Parr purposely clings to the old carvers’ manner of joining, gluing, and painting, and the repairs she undertakes are with regard to factory structure, joinery, and painting techniques. The paints are oil-base, which are hand applied and not sprayed.
Examples of Lisa Parr’s work can be found at: Weona Park, Pen Argyle, PA., Rocky Springs, Lancaster, PA, Pullen Park, Raleigh, NC (all three Dentzel carousels); Allan Herschell Chavis Park Carousel, Raleigh, NC and Fireman’s Park C.W. Parker Carousel in Waterloo,, Wisconsin.
Interview With Lisa Parr