Case Study: St.James' Church Glass Opus Sectile War Memorial


Out of just over 58,000 entries on the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials there are only eleven glass Opus Sectile memorials listed; one of these belongs to St.James' Church, Mill Lane, West Derby, Liverpool. The impressive memorial is comprised of 3000 pieces of glass that form the 2.2 x 1.4m Opus Sectile panel, which is surrounded by a sandstone frame. This stunning glass war memorial features the doomed liner Lusitania. It is a unique tribute to the dead of two world wars of the West Derby community and shows the Cunard vessel steaming at full speed with smoke billowing from her four funnels. Over time, water ingress had caused extensive deterioration and damage to the memorial. The glass panel in particular was badly affected. The removal of the mosaic (Phase I) was done in 2003. By 2008, funds had been raised for Phase II (May 2008 - March 2009). The complex challenges of Phase II were not only associated with how to record, dismantle, and conserve almost 3000 pieces of glass, but how to remount them in such a way that the Opus Sectile panel could, if necessary, be easily removed and re-sited in the future.

Basic Overview of Treatment

Having recorded the position of every single piece of glass, approximatley 3000 pieces of glass were mechanically removed from their wooden backboards; five layers of wood made up the wooden support. Lime mortar had been used to fix the glass to the backboard. Each piece of glass was cleaned mechanically with scalpel blades and various grades of MicroMesh. 23 broken sections of glass were bonded using a conservation grade water-white adhesive. 275 pieces of glass that had lost their reverse-gilded decoration were re-gilded. The glass was remounted onto a backboard of Hexlite 620. Gaps between each piece of glass was filled with Arboflex putty.

A full text detailing treatment will shortly be available as a PDF..

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Case Study: Late 19th Century Thomas Webb & Sons Wall Mirror

A circular cameo glass wall mirror; a circular flat plaque cased in opal over deep ruby ground and cut back to form rose boughs that surround a central mirror. 45cm diameter.

Treatment: Once the frame had been dismantled the residual tape on the reverse of the glass was removed with the application of various solvents and mechanical removal. The old repairs were dismantled with the application of warm water on cotton wool swabs. Once dismantled the broken edges were further cleaned mechanically and with solvent application. The broken sections were re-bonded using Fyne Bond epoxy resin and chips were filled with coloured epoxy fills (Fyne Bond, Cab-O-Sil and Artists dry powder pigments). Once cured, the fills were refined to a finish similar to that of the glass.

Remounting: A conservation grade mount board of a similar colour to the glass was placed behind the glass. A layer of Plastazote was then placed behind the mountboard to act as a buffer and take up the space between it and the wooden backboard; the frame was then reattached.

Private Collection ,

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Case Study: Thomas Webb Animal Ewer

A Late C19th Thomas Webb Animal Ewer
A large section of the spine of the vessel was missing and the client specification was for this to be reconstructed.
1-Part Mould
The missing area was firstly modelled up in-situ in modelling wax. A condensation cure silicone adhesive was then used to make a 1-part mould of the modelled area, which incorporated a filling and an air hole. Once cured a plaster of Paris 'mother' was then formed over the silicone mould.
Making of Epoxy Cast
The mould and modelled wax were removed and the surface cleaned with IMS and Acetone (all decorative areas had been spot tested for solubility before starting any treatment). The mould was then repositioned over the missing area and held and sealed in position around its edges with silicone rubber mixed with fumed silica. It was further secured with elastic bands. A water-white conservation grade epoxy adhesive was then dripped into the filling hole; when it came up through the other hole no more epoxy was dispensed.
Finishing the Cast
The mould was removed and the cast was refined with various sanding papers and cloths. A final layer of epoxy adhesive with a little fumed silica added (to cut the surface tension) was then painted on the surface of the cast. Once cured, this was polished with a plastic polish.
Private Collection

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Case Study: Art Deco Daum & Majorelle Glass & Wrought Iron Vase

 A Large c1920 Daum & Majorelle Glass & Wrought Iron Vase

A large section of one of the glass protrusions was missing and the client specification was for this to be reconstructed.

1-Part Mould
A condensation cure silicone adhesive was used to make a 1-part mould of the exterior of one of the existing glass protrusions.
Making of Epoxy Cast
A water-white conservation grade epoxy adhesive was allowed to cure to a gel-like state and then a thin layer of this was painted onto the interior of the silicone mould. Once cured, Rustins Waterborne Clear Ceramic Glaze was used with artists dry powder pigments to create the desired white 'streaked' effect of the decoration. Another layer of gelled-up epoxy adhesive, this time tinted orange with coloured epoxy pastes, was then painted over this painted decoration. Layers of epoxy were added until the correct depth of cast was achieved.
Fitting the Epoxy Cast to the Void
The cast was profiled to fit the missing area on the vessel, away from the object, using a Dremel drill. The refined cast was then fitted and positioned in the missing void using tinted gelled-up epoxy adhesive. Once cured the cast was polished using a plastic polish.
Private Collection

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Case Study: Ancient Roman Glass Vessel

The vessel was broken into 89 main fragments, plus several minute chips. The fragments were cleaned with a solution of deionised water and industrial methylated spirits. All edges were swabbed with acetone and then bonded with a conservation grade water-white epoxy resin. Several small missing areas to the belly we filled for structural support with the same epoxy resin.


Images produced courtesy of the World of Glass, St. Helens

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Case Study: c19th Century Chinese Cameo Glass Lid from a Ginger Jar

The lid had been repaired previously. The repair was very crude and had deteriorated with some sections becoming completely detached.
Excessive adhesive and other residues were removed mechanically. The repairs were reversed and dismantled with various solvent applications. The fragments were then further cleaned mechanically and with the controlled use of a Derotor Steam Cleaner GV. Fragments were reconstructed using a conservation grade water white epoxy resin and missing areas were made up from an epoxy paste; resin, plus fumed silica and artist’s dry powder pigments. Once cured the fills were refined with glass paper and sanding fabric and then finished/polished with a plastic polish.

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