Conservation and Restoration of Fine Furniture and Objects
Not All that Glitters Is Gold, by Bart Bjorneberg
Cleaning water gilded frame overpainted with bronze powder


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Conservation and restoration frequently mean fixing previous incompetent repairs. Introduction of incompatible materials can make repair more difficult than if the piece was left “as is.” Luckily, as we learned when restoring a gilded frame, successful re-restoration sometimes comes easier than expected.

A carved wood frame arrived covered in bronze powder; badly oxidized and greenish-brown. Testing showed the coating was a nitrous-cellulose lacquer, quickly breaking down under thinner. Beneath the bronzing, the water-gilded frame was in very good condition. A fairly easy cleaning (though tedious and time-consuming) revealed the true problem. Two outer corners obviously suffered from gesso damage…and a poor repair job. In trying to cover merely two affected areas, the previous conservator coated the entire frame in damaging bronzing. By recoating the original damage in non-tarnishing mica powder, we were able to blend it into the original gilding. The frame is now 98% recovered…from a “restoration” that should have never occurred.

Read the full version of “Not All that Glitters is Gold” on the Conservation & Design International Website

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