Tom Jay, left, who sculpted the bronze statue in 1996, watches as his wife and business partner Sara Johani, right, paints over the spot where an unknown vandal made a cut with a saw. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Finley the Salmon gets a new lease on life in Issaquah

Until recently, Finley the Salmon looked as though he would forever carry a long, deep cut across his back.

The bronze sculpture, which adorns the entrance to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, was attacked with a saw last October.

But as of last week, the fish is looking as good as new again.

The sculpture was repaired this week by its original artist, Tom Jay, and his wife and business partner, Sara Johani. Jay sculpted the male salmon in 1996 along with its female counterpart, Gilda, which swims next to Finley.

An unknown vandal entered the hatchery on the night of Oct. 18 and made a cut several inches deep on the back of the fish. Police have not caught the person responsible and do not know the motive for the crime.

The repairs were a combined effort for Jay and Johani, who own bronze studio the Lateral Line in Chimacum, Washington.

“We collaborate,” Johani said.

“Whoever is good at that does that,” Jay explained.

First, Jay inserted beads of bronze in the cut, before welding and melting them to fill out the cut. He then distressed the surface with lines so that the new area would match the rest of the fish, which has been exposed to the elements for the past 21 years.

Next, Johani stepped in, staining the bronze with liver of sulfur to form a patina. She used a heat gun to help the stain dry faster.

The final step was spreading wax over the entire area, which Johani explained “protects the paint and brings it to the same shininess” as the rest of the statue.

Robin Kelley, executive director of Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, said that FISH was very grateful to have the salmon’s artist repair the statue, as this has kept the statue in line with its original look.

“We were fortunate to have them be available, to have them be the original people working on their piece,” Kelley said.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Johani and Jay have had to repair their creations.

“Lately, the vandalism has gone up,” Jay explained, noting that several of his works throughout the state have been damaged or even gone missing. He said that the “Watershed Bell” he designed for the city of Bellingham had to be removed because it had been harmed too many times.

About 30 of Jay’s and Johani’s pieces can be found all around the region, from Vancouver, B.C. to Vancouver, Washington. In Issaquah, Johani designed the statue of nature conservationist Harvey Manning on Cougar Mountain.

The couple shares a love of sculpting as well as a love for one another. Jay and Johani first met 37 years ago in a bronze foundry.

“We’ve grown to be a team,” Johani said. “It’s a working love.”

Artist Sara Johani carefully stains the affected area with liver of sulfur to match the rest of the fish. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Artist Tom Jay shows the area that was cut by the vandal, demonstrating with his hands how long the cut stretched. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

An unknown vandal made the deep cut on Finley in October 2016 with a saw. Photo courtesy of Robin Kelley

Thanks to the work of Jay and Johani, the area where Finley was damaged is no longer recognizable. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

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