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Thursday, June 1 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Objects) Well that didn't work, now what? - Stain Reduction on a 10th-century Iranian Ceramic

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The conservation of a glazed earthenware dish from tenth-century Iran in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art was a focus of a fellowship funded by the Hagop Kevorkian Foundation. Off-white in color with minimal decoration of brownish-black and red inscriptions, the dish bore disfiguring stains along most of the joins and had not been on view since 1982, as a result of its appearance. The current Curator of Islamic Art was interested in exhibiting the dish, but also concerned about the aesthetic distraction of the stains. An investigation of the stains and subsequent treatment was undertaken to reduce their visual impact. Analyses were conducted in order to identify the nature and source of the staining, which previously had been believed to be due to burial materials. Although a specific material was not identified, XRF, FTIR and SEM-EDS provided clear indications that the stains were instead caused by earlier treatments. The removal of old, extensive repairs revealed some deterioration to the glaze in areas and the presence of soluble salts. These parameters and limitations were taken into account during the conservation process. Various methods of stain-reduction were investigated on a few of the most stable sherds. Of the methods deemed safe for the object, none was completely effective at solubilizing or removing the staining. In fact most had little or no effect. The ceramic was therefore treated in order to obtain a consistent appearance amongst the sherds, with as little distraction from the staining as possible. After the sherds were joined back together and the losses and cracks were filled, several approaches to loss compensation were considered, from different levels of integration of the stained areas to covering the most disfigured ones. As the treatment progressed, some pitfalls were encountered and the thought and decision-making processes had to evolve. The presentation aims to discuss the challenges of a particularly complex treatment and the compromises that need to be made in order to ensure the integrity and safety of an object, but also to make the object exhibitable, particularly when a treatment is not as successful as hoped.

avatar for Claire Cuyaubère

Claire Cuyaubère

Fellow in Objects Conservation, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Claire Cuyaubère is an objects conservator who trained at the French National Institute for Cultural Heritage in Paris, with a focus on inorganic materials and an interest for East-Asian ceramics. She has been a fellow at the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research of... Read More →

avatar for Ellen Salzman Chase

Ellen Salzman Chase

Objects Conservator, Freer|Sackler
Ellen Chase has been Objects Conservator in the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research at the Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian Institution’s Museums of Asian Art since 1999. Prior to that she was a contractor or fellow at a number of museums including the Metropolitan... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 11:00am - 11:30am CDT
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower