Frequently Asked Questions
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How long did it take to reassemble each vase properly?
The vases were reassembled as soon as possible after cleaning to prevent dirt settling on the cleaned break edges. The fragments were laid out in sequence so the pieces could be built upwards from the base. This time the joins had to be perfect. Although the assembly takes longer than the dry run, it is still a relatively fast process. The time-lapse in the interactive shows the actual complete reassembly of the most damaged yan yan vase (120 main fragments) from start to finish. It took 8 hours. Note how the conservator has to take some areas up and down to prevent locking out some of the fragments. The large baluster vase also took 8 hours. The assembly of the second yan yan vase (80 main pieces) only took 6 hours.
What tape did the conservator use to make the joins?
Penny used the same self-adhesive tape she used to make the draft assembly and applied it in the same way. (see Sorting). Once again she was careful to avoid any fragile or flaking surface decoration and apply the tape perpendicular to the join. Because the breaks were fresh and clean, they produced a very close fit when reassembled, rendering the joins invisible in some places. (The exception was the sprung neck section of one yan yan vase (see Sorting for information on springing) and areas of loss along some break edges. Finally, the tiniest flakes of glaze and painted enamel designs were inserted.
Were there any problems?
Yes. If the joins are not perfect there is a risk with very large heavy ceramics that the fragments will settle and move out of alignment. When this happens the whole object has to be taken apart, the tape residues removed and the pieces reassembled all over again. Therefore, after assembly the conservator leaves them taped up for a few days before applying the adhesive. Unfortunately, this happened with the heavy baluster jar. After two days, the pieces settled and slumped and the whole vase had to be dismantled, re-cleaned and reassembled. There was no problem with the second reassembly.