Archaeological glass conservation: Comparative approaches and practicalities of using acrylic resin films as gap fills

Hana Bristow and Jan Dariusz Cutajar


The conservation of archaeological vessel glass is notable for the challenges inherent in loss compensation and has seen conservators creatively manipulating many materials with varying degrees of success. Conventional gap-filling techniques using epoxy resins are now widely regarded as inappropriate. One of the latest emerging techniques is the use of customizable Paraloid B-72 films, established by Stephen Koob and his colleagues at the Corning Museum of Glass. This article presents two alternative approaches to loss compensation in archaeological glass using acrylic resin gap fills. The authors reflect on their independent experiences in adapting this technique and consider each against the backdrop of Koob’s own recommendations. The approaches described here illustrate the practicalities, challenges, and conclusions drawn from the application—through trial and error—of this technique. It also highlights the similarities and differences in decision making by the conservators working separately at the University College London and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum while replicating a given treatment methodology. Additionally, it advocates the use of collaboration and knowledge sharing in tackling a conservation issue. Ultimately, through sharing these experiences, both case studies serve as a guide for conservators wishing to implement similar treatments in the future. It is hoped that in doing so, the professional conservator’s repertoire for the treatment of archaeological glass will be expanded on, allowing for the significance of fragmentary archaeological glass to be better preserved.

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2017 | Chicago | Volume 24