Conservation and Restoration | Porcelain, Ceramics and Glass
Department of Porcelain, Ceramics and Glass
The Department of Porcelain, Ceramics and Glass is responsible for preserving and restoring the entire inventory of porcelain, glass, earthen and stoneware in all the SPSG’s palaces, storehouses and exhibitions. It is overseen by two restorers. Originating from the 17th century to the present, the collection is comprised of approximately 7,800 porcelain objects and figurines, vases, wall plates and tableware, 1,100 ceramic items, such as floor and stove tiles, 1,200 objects made of glass, such as mirrors, vases, drinking and ceremonial glasses, windows, and 290 chandeliers.
This department is responsible for seeking optimal solutions and restoration models, developing methods and materials for conserving and cleaning objects, for removing old adhesives and rebinding fragments, strengthening, filling missing elements, for reproducing certain shapes and retouching elements in color, as well as documenting all these activities. Of particular note is the restoration of Russian monumental vases, 1.80 meters high, which had to be reassembled from many severely damaged fragments.
The biggest challenge facing porcelain and glass restoration is the emergence of new substances during the manufacturing process – when porcelain is fired or glass melted – as new substances originate, thus on the whole preventing it from being restored with the material it is made of, i.e. a broken plate cannot be repaired by being refired. An object made of porcelain cannot be made whole with more porcelain clay, as it tends become more dense and shrink when it is fired. This is why adhesives, filling materials and paints must be found that correspond with the look and feel of the porcelain and glass artifacts and the colors with which they have been decorated.
Another key focus is the manufacture of copies using the same original materials, such as porcelain blossoms from the porcelain manufactory in Meissen, and handblown and cut glass objects from Nový Bor in the Czech Republic. The complex reproduction of a group of exceptional architectural ornaments, 40 glass vases in white, ruby red, blue and green for the Stibadium in the Paradise Garden in Potsdam, required extensive source research into the positioning of the vases at this location, as well as their shape and color. To make sure that the shape and color of the copies matched the original objects, the production process was overseen by the department on location at the Bohemian glassworks.
The sphere of duties of this department also extends to national and international loans, which involves assessing the capability to lend and transport objects, determining appropriate packing and crating, compiling condition reports and providing courier services to accompany works of art.