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Conservation

Ceramic Vase

photo of the ceramic vase, before treatment
Before Treatment

photo of the ceramic vase, after treatment
After Treatment

This vase was a wedding gift for Margaret Ramsey, Alexander Ramsey's sister. It was made much like the famous Sevres ceramics, although Sevres apparently did not make this one. The vase was actually made in two parts, the top and the bottom, which are held together with an iron bolt. This bolt had started to come loose, and there were significant losses to the gilding on the bottom half.

The vase was disassembled, and the iron bolt was cleaned of corrosion and rust. It was treated with a passivating tannic acid solution, and coated with wax. The ceramic was washed with a mild surfactant. Then losses to the gilding were restored by applying a solution of water, ethyl alcohol, and a tiny amount of animal hide glue, followed quickly by sheets of 22-karat gold leaf. This is very similar to traditional water gilding, which is also done by MHS conservators, in addition to traditional oil gilding. After drying, the restored areas were slightly distressed to better match the slight losses to the top half. Finally, to protect the gilding, a thin coating of wax was applied, followed by a thin coating of Acryloid B-67 resin dissolved in xylenes. All of these restorations are fully reversible if needed. The vase was reassembled and placed back on display.