The dif­fer­ent meth­ods of restora­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

shapes. This poses a unique chal­lenge for re­stor­ers like Yang who have to think of spe­cific ways to work with each piece, find­ing ma­te­ri­als that best match the color and tex­ture of the orig­i­nal ob­ject.

The restora­tion depart­ment of Shang­hai Mu­seum is renowned glob­ally for their abil­ity to re­store ob­jects to near per­fect con­di­tions. Look­ing at a re­stored glass shelf that Yang and her col­leagues had worked on, one is un­able to de­tect any traces of pre­vi­ous dam­age.

“Our ul­ti­mate goal is to bring out the com­plete his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion of a piece, and re­store it to its orig­i­nal per­fec­tion,” said Yang.

When the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal depart­ment brings in pieces for restora­tion, Yang would first put each ob­ject in the ul­tra­sonic cleaner to re­move the dirt present. Yang and her col­leagues would then use chem­i­cal glues to join the cracked ar­eas.

In the early 20th cen­tury, when peo­ple had lit­tle knowl­edge about restora­tion meth­ods, they would use ce­ment to re­pair bro­ken an­tiques. This would com­pro­mise the in­tegrity of the an­tique as traces of ce­ment can be eas­ily seen and can­not be re­moved. To­day, re­stor­ers can eas­ily re­move the glues, pig­ments, epoxy resin or other ma­te­ri­als they add to an ob­ject.

“Usu­ally when you heat the ob­ject up to 200 de­grees Cel­sius, the glue will soften, and all pig­ments can be washed off with ad­e­quate sol­vent,” said Yang, who added that ceram­ics are hardly ever af­fected by this treat­ment process as they were orig­i­nally cre­ated in kilns at ex­tremely high tem­per­a­ture.

Other tra­di­tional meth­ods of restora­tion in­clude us­ing sta­ples to join bro­ken ce­ramic pieces to­gether. How­ever, this method is not used by mu­seum re­stor­ers as it in­volves drilling tiny holes on the glaze be­fore in­sert­ing the stape, re­sult­ing in ir­re­versible dam­age to the orig­i­nal piece.

Yang Yun, re­storer at Shang­hai Mu­seum

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