photo courtesy of director Laurent Bavay
This season consolidation of the polychrome layer was undertaken, in conjunction with the removal of the facing tissue in a two-part process – which allowed both the softening and swelling of the facing medium to enable the safe removal of the tissue, while also using the tissue as part of the consolidation process through which to apply the consolidant – a compatible Culminal 2000 1% in water and ethanol. Timing was key to the process, allowing enough time for the swelling of the facing medium, the penetration of the consolidant through the tissue and surface decoration to the wooden substrate, to allow relaying and re-adhesion of any detached or delaminating flakes. With the facing medium swelled and softened, and the polychromy consolidated and relaid the facing tissue could then be gently rolled back to reveal the fixed polychrome layer. UV light was used as an additional tool to this process to detect any remaining surface traces of the Japanese tissue during the treatment – which could then be removed using a scalpel or tweezers during the consolidation process.
The conservation process was recorded photographically, and after the removal of all the facing tissue from the lower part of the coffin, infra red photographs were taken to attempt to clarify the decorative scheme – which included decoration of which only the medium is now surviving.
The photographs below are with credits to Anja Stoll and Rafael Morales.
On return to Oxford I gave a talk for the Oxford Conservators Group at the Chantry Library on the project at Sennefer, two write ups of the event can be found here: