Time For A Tune Up: A Wall Clock Receives A New Face

One thing that makes The Center unique is our ability to have several departments collaborate to deliver superior results and develop innovative treatments. Recently, a wall clock came to us for treatment that afforded such an opportunity. 

Upon arrival, it was noted that the frame of the clock was composed of wood, compo, gesso, metal leaf, brown bole, and toner. The clock's glass was broken, and there were nails missing from the decorative brass edging around the glass. 

One of the brass edgings was also misaligned, and the wood and applied cast were separating at the lower center of the clock. Detached compo fragments from the lower center had been retained, and the frame had a sight liner with compo and black paint.


There were minimal abrasions throughout the piece, with additional compo losses at the center left and a few minor losses from the clock’s lower center.

The finish appeared to be intentionally distressed, and the finish of the frame was original. Additionally, the surface of the piece was coated with a particulate film and scattered accretions.

After a formal treatment proposal was sent to and approved by the client, the clock was first treated by The Center’s Furniture Department. Our furniture conservators began by carefully removing the brass edging and broken glass. Replacement glass was then measured and cut to fit the frame by our Custom Framing Department and the brass edging was reinstalled and properly aligned.

Next, the missing nails were replaced as necessary. The piece was then treated by our Framing and Gilding Department.

Our framing conservators noted that the wood and applied cast were separating at the lower center of the clock; detached compo fragments from the lower center had been retained. Our framing conservator began by consolidating the flaking compo with the appropriate conservation adhesives. Next, the frame was surface cleaned on all sides to remove the particulate film and accretions.

Due to the fact that the finish of the frame was original to the piece, our conservators chose to leave the finish in its present state. The scratches and abrasions were inpainted to emulate the surrounding surface, and the retained fragments were reattached using the appropriate conservation adhesives.

Next, the losses in cast decoration were recast and the fills and replacements were finished to emulate the surrounding surface. A protective layer of microcrystalline wax was then applied to the surface of the frame, and the treatment was topped off by our Custom Framing Department with the installation of new glass.

The wall clock’s recently completed treatment is just one example of three of our departments working together on the treatment of one piece. Custom Framing, Framing and Gilding, and Furniture all collaborated to bring forth the best results possible, preserving the piece for future generations of time tellers to admire and enjoy.