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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Reconstructing a Shattered Glass Shade

by Kelly Rectenwald, Associate Objects Conservator

1/25/2024

CAMConservation , objects conservation , glass lamp shade , rejoining fragments

This week in objects conservation, I reconstructed a shattered century glass lamp shade. This iridescent green shade came to the lab in a box of fragments. Piece by piece, I built the individual fragments back into a shade.

Due to the thinness of the glass and the risk of locking out a piece during the reconstruction, I pieced the fragments back together using 2 mm x 5 mm cut strips of tape before using an adhesive. This kept the pieces securely joined while allowing me to easily undo the reconstruction to fit in any pieces found to be locked out. Once I was confident that every piece had been fit, I then placed adhesive along the join lines on the interior surface, where through capillary action, the adhesive distributed through the joins, bonding the fragments together.

With all the fragments put back together, it is clear there is still some loss to the edge of the shade. The next step of the treatment will be to fill these areas of loss with another material to stabilize the delicate glass and lower the risk of any future breaks. We’re very excited in Conservation to be returning this box of shattered glass back to its original form as a lamp shade!