Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Roundhouse Objects Conservation - Nov. 6, 2012

November 6, 2012

Ceramics and Glass Cleaning

Cleaned up the last of the ceramics in the collection and started in with the bottles and other glass objects.  One of the ceramics was a plate that had some interesting characteristics.  It had been broken and repaired with a large crack essentially down the middle.  There are patches of glue that squeezed out of the crack and dried.  This same plate had an interesting wear pattern in the middle which can be seen at an angle with a bright light.  The pattern suggests to me that it was likely used as a tray for a milk or water jug which stood in the centre.  Perhaps the person repairing it decided that it could remain useful even with the effort to repair it.  This is conjecture on my part.  Can you think of another explanation?

The glass bottles are especially challenging because most have small openings at the top and were buried in soil so they often have small patches of soil right up underneath the top.  I used a shish-kabob stick with a cut off Q-tip bent back on itself to reach the difficult spots at the base and the top.  In some cases the bottles were rinsed inside only if they did not appear to hold any special remnants of what may have been the original contents.  It is important to keep any  material which may be original content for future testing.  It is not critically important at this time to determine the contents but we cannot be sure if this might be important perhaps 50 or 100 years from now.  Certainly, the testing if done now would be expensive and would not normally be done by a community museum with limited funding for such procedures.

The following photograph gives an example what should be done with material to be kept.  The dark material removed had flakes of lighter shiny material intermixed.  These were not separated out but just carefully kept and stored together.

Material removed from inside bottle with container and label.

Conservation Tip:  When cleaning any object be sure to keep any material removed which may be important for future research.  It must be stored in a container that can be sealed to remain uncontaminated.  The container must be labelled to clearly identify the object it was removed from and any other relevant information.  Some examples of materials which should be kept:

  • the contents of a bottle,
  • flakes and/or pieces of an object which fall off when handled,
  • threads or cloth pieces from textiles,
  • plant material found on exterior or interior,
  • paint flakes.

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