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Subject: Egyptian faience

Egyptian faience

From: Linda S. Roundhill <artsconservation>
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Lindsey Bogle <pstudio [at] xs4all__nl> writes

>In my studio for restoration is a (broken) ushabti or shabti, which
>is a small Egyptian faience statuette which was placed in a tomb to
>accompany the deceased. The original sherd is a bright turquoise
>colour but almost the entire surface of the figure is now unevenly
>discoloured, with many yellow/orange/brown stains, although these
>are less on the rear. Under the foot they are even darker, a
>brownish-black colour. ...
>... The discolorations now
>look much more like iron stains to me and give the impression of
>being to be much older, even from the days in the tomb.

Impossible to say from a verbal description, but I would concur with
you that the stains may very well be either discoloration due to
faulty manufacture or stains incurred during burial.  In either case
removing this would change the objects history and should be
avoided.  I would suggest to the owners that if they must have
bright blue faience, they should purchase it that way from a
reputable dealer.  Just my opinion.

You implied, however, that they remember the color being bright (how
does the blue sherd fit into the scenario?).  If indeed the color
has changed through the years, it may indicate an old conservation
treatment that has gone wrong (eg consolidation with an epoxy or
cellulose nitrate that has yellowed).  Another possibility is some
sort of mineral salt migrating to the surface.  Was the sherd kept
in different conditions from the rest of the object?  It would seem
that more investigation is needed.

Linda R.
Art and Antiquities Conservation, L.L.C.
Woodinville, WA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:34
                Distributed: Thursday, February 2, 2006
                       Message Id: cdl-19-34-009
Received on Wednesday, 11 January, 2006

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