The Development of a Mold and Cast Technique for Infilling on Varnished Chinese Export Laquerware

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University of Delaware
While China continues to capture newspaper headlines during discussions of economic growth and competition with the United States, much has been forgotten about early 18th century trade between China and the United States. The results of luxury export trade can still be seen through current patterns of consumption, the growth of the United States economy, and revived interest in Chinese designs still evident in European and American homes. During research conducted during the summer of 2014, the conservation treatment of a Chinese export lacquerware shawl box, 1964.0084D, from the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate collection, was performed. The shawl box was chosen as it exemplified the monumental impact Chinese export had on developing trading ports across America, specifically focusing on Salem, Massachusetts. The shawl box was analyzed through the techniques of pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (py-GC/MS), ultraviolet light (UV) auto-fluorescence, and chemical staining in order to accurately assess the current condition of the object and develop an appropriate conservation treatment plan. After learning one lacquerware conservation technique through the shawl box treatment, I aimed to develop an alternative methodology that would eliminate some material issue concerns that arose during the shawl box treatment and facilitate the treatment of larger losses. This thesis aims to develop a mold and cast system which completely eliminates the use of water while reducing the amount of time an object is handled during the conservation treatment of varnished Chinese export lacquerware pieces. A varnished Chinese export lacquerware screen, 2004.0030.002, in the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate collection was used to carry out testing for the purposes of this study. This study has informed further treatment of the varnished Chinese export lacquerware screen, 2004.0030.002, and presents a new method of treating large losses on varnished Chinese export lacquerware
Art Conservation