Case Study: A Tablet of Two Halves

When ceramic items are damaged or broken, they can come to us in a variety of pieces and fragments. Whether a ceramic item has been chipped once, cracked in two, or smashed into many pieces, we can achieve a seamless result.

In the case of a recent enquiry, our client had an artwork on a clay tablet that was cracked into two complete pieces. The cause of the damage was frost; the tablet was kept at the entrance to our clients’ home and was weakened by the change in temperature.

At just over 2 square ft and almost 2 inches thick, the tablet was reasonably heavy for its size.

Our conservators are used to repairing broken ceramics with many variables to consider, such as its fragility, the materials used, size and weight. The clay tablet was a very unique piece, and our specialist team took the first steps to its restoration with an assessment.

Assessment and Restoration

The split happened right down the centre of the tablet and into two pieces without any additional substantial fragments. This meant that no new sizeable pieces would need to be created and re-adhered to the tablet.

Once they arrived in the studio, the two pieces of the tablet were first cleaned to remove any dirt and contaminants, particularly around the damaged areas. It was important to ensure that the two parts were thoroughly cleaned so that when were rejoined, the finish was as seamless as possible and did not contain any contaminants in the join.

The two pieces were re-attached to each other using a bonding material. As you can see in the photograph the tablet is quite deep and so constant weight pressure was applied to ensure that the tablet was successfully re-joined.

Once stabilised, some retouching was required down the line of the join to make the repair as seamless as possible. The colour matching against the existing artwork was carefully considered, especially as the clay tablet has very bold colours and distinctive shapes. With precision and care, the areas were carefully colour matched and in-painted for a discreet and uniform finish. 

The result was a seamless restoration, and our client was delighted with the outcome after receiving the tablet back. We advised that the item is now kept indoors to guard against any environmental concerns.

We were very pleased to restore such a unique item, and allow it to be enjoyed at home once again.

For further insight into the restoration of ceramics, you can read our advice on how to deal with a breakage, learn more about the ceramic restoration process, or contact us if you would like our recommendations and a quote for your own items.

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