Beaker

Sherds of a beaker, from a burial in Ashton Keynes, arrived at the studio in 86 separate self-seal bags ; highly decorated fine-ware, with a soft orange fabric and two main types of decoration: all-over-decorated or combed-zoned. Some cracking of the surface was present, as well as pitting The edges of the sherds were relatively sturdy although several were prone to crumbling.

Dry surface cleaning was undertaken with a vulcanised rubber.

The edges of all sherds were consolidated with a 10% solution of an acrylic resin in acetone, applied by brush. The sherds were then reconstructed using a 1:1 mix of this resin in acetone. Bonded sherds were allowed to cure over a 24-hour period. Alignment of the sherds was facilitated using various combinations of clamps and masking tape; the tape was removed after 24 hours with IMS to avoid staining.

Missing areas were reconstructed to add structural support. Wax sheets were gently softened, so just malleable, in a bowl of warm water. After removing water residue, the wax sheets were gently pressed against the inner profile of the vessel, itself being protected with a layer of clingfilm. These were then transferred to the missing area and held in place on the interior with Masking Tape. Then, plaster of Paris was used as the casting material – casting onto the wax sheet support. The fills were refined with combinations of scalpel blades and various sanding fabrics. Where necessary, final surface layer of a fine acrylic filler was added for smoothness and a tight edge finish.

All in-filled areas were retouched using a clear acrylic glaze with acrylic paints and a matt medium. These were applied to blend in sympathetically with the original decoration, retaining an aesthetic integrity so that it does not ‘shout out’ when viewed at a distance, but easily discernible on close examination.