ISAS Archaeologists Attend
Vessel Reconstruction Workshop
Sarah Wisseman, Alexey Zelin, and Kjersti Emerson received special training in ceramic repair techniques for archaeological collections at the “Conservation and Mending of Low-Fired Ceramics” workshop hosted by the Indiana State Museum. Director of Archaeology, Michelle Greenan, and Head Conservator, Gaby Kienitz, taught the workshop. The workshop focused on reversible methods of vessel reconstruction using Paraloid B-72 and the use of plaster fills.
Archaeologists learned that consolidating edges (with a weak solution of B-72 adhesive) before gluing strengthens the pot and makes repairs more easily reversible. “In fact, everything is reversible, as long as you're patient,” says Wisseman. “Take your time—the pot will wait. When you're working with plaster though, the clock is ticking as soon as the stuff begins to set.”
Participants also learned another technique called “relaxing.” This involves redoing old joins by placing a pot inside a plastic bag with two vials of acetone overnight. Afterward, one may gently remove old adhesive, consolidate edges, and re-glue. Says Emerson, “The workshop was extremely beneficial and we have already begun to put our new skills to practice in restoring vessels from some older collections.”
Wisseman says, “Ceramic repair can be fun!” She reminds us that it takes time, and several short sessions—as opposed to one longer session— work well, since glue and plaster patches both require setting before they can be cleaned up. The group learned that it's helpful to work as a team, since some pot reconstruction can pose a unique challenge.
[posted September 6, 2012]