Meticulously Mending Fragments of a Fan | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Mar, 2022


By Adrienne Gendron, Gradutate Intern in Objects Conservation at the CMA

Fig. 1: Supporter, c. 1900. 2009.79. René Lalique (French, 1860–1945). Mother-of-pearl, gold, silk open up and prolonged: 21.5 x 37 x 1.8 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Artwork, Obtain from the J. H. Wade Fund, 2009.79. Image: David Brichford (CMA)

Handful of components embody luxury a lot more absolutely than mother-of-pearl and gold. This mom-of-pearl lover is composed of 19 slats with gold-colored inlay and cutout patterns that includes butterflies and bouquets (fig. 1). The supporter was built by René Lalique, a French jeweler and glassmaker working at the height of the Artwork Nouveau movement in the early 20th century. At that time, artists started to refocus on the value of the individual artist’s hand following a period of time of fascination with industrial processes. The Artwork Nouveau movement introduced an appreciation for natural and organic forms, references to the normal entire world, and an affinity for Japanese design and style. Simultaneously, there was an outpouring of artistic work into the realm of decorative arts, resulting in a wealthy period of creativeness and ornamentation of each day objects. Lalique was heralded as “the greatest jeweler doing work in France” and was acknowledged for employing materials animated by gentle (Harrison 2008, 29).

The mother-of-pearl utilised to produce this Lalique supporter is really thin (about the thickness of a quarter) and designed even far more sensitive due to the intricate cutout layouts. Yrs ago, a person of the slats broke into multiple parts. Former fix attempts utilized an adhesive, but with such a little surface area region to be part of, the repairs were inherently weak and unsuccessful continuously. As portion of my graduate internship with the museum’s objects conservation lab, I was requested to uncover a better resolution to this hard challenge.

Fig. 2: Depth demonstrating the broken slat with tiny mom-of-pearl slivers.

To do this, it is critical to evaluate an object and ascertain the most correct treatment method. Right after exploring the object’s cultural context, I identified that, as an Artwork Nouveau luxurious decorative arts object, the fan’s gorgeous overall look is paramount to its core which means. The object is no lengthier visually coherent in its existing harmed state, and restoring it would return a degree of visual legibility to the object reliable with Lalique’s inventive tradition. Its existing problem also renders the item unstable and susceptible to even further hurt, so repairing the spot would reduce chance. With these considerations in head, I made a decision to master as a great deal as I could about the item and how it was created, in get to establish an proper cure prepare.

(Remaining) Fig. 3: Photomicrograph (5x) exhibiting the spliced be part of in between two sections of mother-of-pearl. Also seen are the spherical drill holes applied to start off the linear slits in the higher-right corner. (Suitable) Fig. 4: Photomicrograph (5x) displaying the incised strains used to program out the patterns
Fig. 5: Photomicrograph (20x) exhibiting the incised channels with triangular cross segment (noticeable at still left) and the unique particles of gold-coloured inlay.

Analyzing the admirer beneath a microscope disclosed interesting details. While at initially glance the slats surface to be created in a person piece, skillfully executed joins are visible beneath magnification (fig. 3). The artist made use of at minimum two items of mother-of-pearl to develop every slat, utilizing a refined splicing strategy to make the joins as invisible as doable. I could also see that the artist initial mapped out the designs in shallow incised strains (fig. 4). The slim slits were being built applying a little drill to pierce holes, which ended up then elongated into slits with a jeweler’s saw.

The front of the supporter is also embellished with incised strains, which are stuffed with gold-colored material . The incisions have angled sides, indicating that they ended up manufactured working with a pointed software. Less than the microscope, the gold material looks like quite a few personal particles as opposed to a solitary sheet of metal, suggesting that it was applied as a powder rather than as a leaf (fig. 5).

Fig. 6: Photomicrographs (10x) of mock ups for flash gilding (left), mordant gilding (middle), and shell gold (correct).

At first glance the gold-coloured product and metallic loop appeared to be pure gold on the other hand, things are not always as they look! I employed portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF), a non damaging analytical approach that gives info on elemental composition, to come across out additional. I learned that the gold-colored materials contains brass, a copper and zinc alloy, along with some gold. My assessment of the metallic loop suggested that it is probable composed of a copper alloy foundation metallic that has been gold plated.

Fig. 7: Photomicrograph (10x) demonstrating the existence of stray gold-colored particles trapped in the linear slits outside the house of the meant style parts, suggesting that a unfastened powder was applied.

Up coming, I developed mock-ups to get a fingers-on understanding of how the fan was made. Utilizing sample pieces of mother-of-pearl, I created incised channels with a Dremel device and analyzed 3 procedures of applying gold-colored fill: flash gilding (gold powder applied over a binder), shell gold (gold particles suspended in a gum arabic medium and used as paint), and mordant gilding (gold leaf utilized over a binder) (fig. 6). I located that the flash gilding approach gave an physical appearance most similar to the parts on the Lalique enthusiast. This theory is even more supported by the presence of stray gold-coloured particles in locations of the lover not meant for decoration, which could very easily occur when doing work with loose powder (fig. 7).

Fig. 8: The damaged mom-of-pearl mock-up and Mylar backing (still left) the fixed mock-up with Mylar backing adhered in area (proper).

The destruction to the fan’s outermost slat experienced resulted in a complicated break with various different parts. Simply because prior repair service tries employing adhesive on your own experienced failed, I determined to check out using a backing content to assistance the destroyed spot from guiding. I chose Mylar, a thin polyester film, as it is transparent and would not disrupt the visual influence of the fragile cutouts but it is also potent and rigid ample to provide suitable assistance to the destroyed spot. To exam this approach, I designed yet another mock-up re-making the fan’s cutout method, then broke the mockup in fifty percent and adhered the Mylar backing in put (fig. 8).

Fig. 9: Depth illustrations or photos showing the concluded fix just before (still left) and after (proper). Photographs: David Brichford

Immediately after finishing the mock-up, I was able to productively repair the first supporter (fig. 9). The end result is an object that is now visually coherent and dependable with the artist’s originally meant overall look (fig. 10). It is also far more structurally secure and can be properly exhibited in the potential.

Fig. 10: Overall right after-treatment method graphic. Picture by David Brichford (CMA)

Zoom in on this French supporter and many other folks by exploring the keyword “fan” in Collection On the internet. Which design and style catches your eye?


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