A delicate glass vase by French artist Emile Galle (1846-1904), owned by the Glessner House Museum was brought to The Center after it was accidentally damaged and shattered. The vase broke into discrete fragments with extensive associated losses along the break edges, including an area of significant loss around the rim. There were also two running cracks as a result of a fracture.
Following a trial assembly, all break edges were cleaned using appropriate chemicals on cotton wool swabs. The fragments were then assembled and secured in place with thin sutures of pressure-sensitive tape in advance of bonding. Breaks and cracks in glass are visible because light moves through the air that is trapped in the crack differently than it moves through the glass. The refractive index is a number which describes how light moves through a medium. Because light moves through materials with similar refractive indexes in similar ways, it is possible to reduce the appearance of damaged glass and to avoid unsightly "glue lines" by using an adhesive that has a refractive index similar to glass.
Therefore, drops of an epoxy resin with the appropriate refractive index were applied onto the break edges and allowed to wick between the fragments by capillary action. Once the epoxy had cured, the tape sutures were removed and attention could then be turned to filling the losses.
The same epoxy resin used for bonding was allowed to partially cure to a gel-like consistency and was then applied to the areas of loss taking care not to introduce or entrap air bubbles within the uncured resin. Pressure-sensitive tapes were once again used to hold the resin in position until cured. For larger losses, wax moulds were used to support the resin during curing. Once cured, the tapes and wax were removed and the resin was brought level with the surface in accordance with the profile, surface texture and sheen of the glass. As this was a museum treatment, no dyes or colorants were applied to either the resin itself or to the surface of the fills so as to be able to easily differentiate the original from the restored areas.
Soon the vase will be back in its proper place, in the recently restored parlor of the Glessner House. Photo by James Caulfield.
The location outlined in red exhibits where the vase will be placed once it returns to the parlor room.