Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Greek Alabastron

by Conservation

10/25/2018

behind the scenes , conservation , alabastron , alabaster , Greek

This 5th C Greek alabastron made of alabaster, has been in the objects conservation lab for repair. The alabastron is a long bodied ceramic with a flat disk at the top and a rounded bottom and would have been used for holding oils or perfumes. This container has a large loss comprising almost half the vessel and a detached fragment. The fragment has only one point of contact and sits like a peninsula in the middle of the loss, making it vulnerable to breakage. In order to secure the fragment and fill the loss, our objects conservator devised a recessed Japanese tissue paper fill.

The recessed fill attaches to the interior edges around the loss and creates a secure backing for the fragment to rest against. Sheets of Japanese tissue paper were layered and coated with an adhesive to provide strength and rigidity to the fill. To mimic the rounded shape of the vessel the paper wetted and pressed into the interior until dry to create a cast. The paper fill creates a stable support for the fragment and a unified appearance for the vessel.