Wax residues on the exterior surfaces were carefully removed mechanically. Bench tests were carried out away from the objects on traces of the surface deposits and adhesives to ensure the stability of the surfaces during treatment with solvents. Local cleaning took place with the relevant solvents.
The elves looked much happier already.
The second challenge was to gauge the best course of action regarding the old repairs.
The blue elf had an area of body loss at the proper right corner of his jacket and the green, an area of body loss at the proper right foot tip. In both cases the exposed ceramic edges had been retouched directly.
Adhesive residues and previous noticeable bond lines existed in numerous areas, such as the tip of hats, neck and feet, and two different kinds of adhesives were noted. One was colourless and clear, the other was yellowish brown.
Some bonds were misaligned and the client had felt not too distracting. However, they could also become more eye-catching once the current most obvious damage was lessened. Thus, it was important to decide on how much intervention was necessary for the ‘minimal intervention’ required.
Having decided with my tutor Lorna, we eventually agreed:
1. All body losses would be filled, as the exposed surface could potentially draw in moisture into the porous body and cause future damage.
2. One previous bond would be dismantled and re-bonded, as it was at an eye-catching position and could affect the area that required filling right next to it.
3. All other previous bonds would be left in place as stable, but the adhesive residue would be removed and micro-filling along the bond lines would be carried out to improve the visual aesthetic.
The dismantling of the section of the candle holder was carried out with solvent on cotton wool (fig 3) and further adhesive residues mechanically removed by scalpel, or chemically with solvent.