“Conserving Silver-Leaf Mirrors in a Surtout de Table at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.” Sarah Barack, Jessica Walthew, and Drew Anderson. ICOM-CC Glass and Ceramics Interim Meeting, London, England. September 5–7, 2019.

Download a PDF of the presentation poster here (6.5 MB).

Sarah Barack, Head of Conservation and Senior Objects Conservator, will be presenting the conservation team’s technical study and conservation treatment of the surtout de table recently featured in the exhibition Tablescapes: Designs for Dining (on view at Cooper Hewitt October 2018–April 2019) at the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation Glass and Ceramics Working Group conference in September in London, England.

Conservation treatment focused on the mirrored-glass surfaces of the plateaus, upon which all the other elements of the elaborate table centerpiece rest. The silver leaf was applied to the reverse of the polished glass panels, originally providing a shiny, continuous, and reflective surface, which enhanced the surrounding gilt metal components. Past damage had caused lifting segments of the silver leaf to peel away from the glass surface, allowing crazing and oxidation resulting in instability and an unattractive discontinuous surface appearance. Contract conservator Drew Anderson stabilized the leaf with adhesive and microcrystalline wax consolidation, and devised a clever method of compensating for gaps of missing silver leaf. A tinted reflective film was placed beneath the glass to fill in losses in a completely reversible manner.

Image: Contract conservator Drew Anderson stabilizes damaged silver leaf during treatment of the mirrored components of the surtout de table.

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