About Conservation Treatment



Metal Artifacts

About the Conservation Treatment of Metal Artifacts

The majority of metal heritages are unearthed from the ground, etc., making them vulnerable to diverse types of damage depending on their burial environment and materials. Unearthed metal Artifacts are highly susceptible to damage due to environmental changes and corrosive factors in the atmosphere. Thus, conservation treatment is very important in preventing further damage to unearthed heritages and in restoring their original form. Also, based on data obtained from the process of conservation treatment, diverse studies on ancient metals can be conducted.

Conservation Treatment Process of Copper-Alloy Artifacts

1. Pre-treatment Survey and Analysis
  • Document and take photos of surveys of materials, size, condition, and shape.
  • Non-destructive survey: Survey the structures and corrosion levels that cannot be identified visually (X-ray, CT, etc.).
  • Analysis:Analyze the composition materials and the corrosive compounds of artifacts(XRF, XRD etc.).
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2. Cleaning
  • Physical methods: Use small tools to remove soil and corroded compounds from the surface of artifacts.
  • Chemical methods: Use formic acid, EDTA, etc. selectively to remove corroded substances.
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3. Stabilization Treatment (Corrosion-inhibition)
  • Benzotriazole (B.T.A) method: Form a Cu-B.T.A film on a artifact’s surface to constrain corrosion.
  • Dip a relic in B.T.A. 3% (In ethyl alcohol) solution to penetrate it.
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4. Consolidation
  • Block corrosive factors such as oxygen and moisture in the air, thus consolidating the material of the artifacts.
  • Dip a artifact in acrylic resin, by using a impregnation equipment.
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5. Adhesion and Restoration
  • Attach the damaged or broken pieces and recovery the original after restoring the lost parts.
  • Use acrylic resins and epoxy resins according to the materials of artifacts.
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6. Coloring
  • Match the color of a joined and restored part with that of the artifact’s surface.
  • Coloring should be conducted in such a way that the color can only be distinguished from the artifact surface’s color within 30㎝ of the artifact, whereas it should be indistinguishable at 1m or more from the artifact.
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7. After treatment Documentation
  • Document and take photographs of the treatment process and post-treatment status.
  • Packaging: Fix a artifact in polyethylene foam safely and package it together with materials such as silica gel that can remove moisture.
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Conservation Treatment Process of Iron Artifacts

1. Pre-treatment Survey and Analysis
  • Document and take photos of surveys of materials, sizes, condition, and shape.
  • Non-destructive survey: Survey structures and corrosion levels that cannot be identified visually (X-ray, CT, etc.).
  • Analysis: Analyze the composition materials and the corrosive compounds of artifacts(XRF, XRD etc.).
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2. Removal of soil (cleaning)
  • Physical methods: Use small tools and abrasive equipment to remove soil and corroded compounds from the surface of artifacts.
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3. Stabilization Treatment (Desalting)
  • Use alkaline solutions such as NaOH and sodium sesquicarbonate to remove chlorine ion.
  • Remove Cl ion by using constant-temperature water bath.
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4. Consolidation
  • Block corrosive factors such as oxygen and moisture in the air, thus consolidating the material of artifacts.
  • Dip a artifact in acrylic resin, by using a impregnation equipment.
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5. Adhesion and Restoration
  • Attach the damaged or broken pieces and recovery the original after restoring the lost parts.
  • Use acrylic resins and epoxy resins according to the materials of artifacts.
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6. Coloring
  • Match the color of a joined and restored part with that of the artifact’s surface.
  • Coloring should be conducted in such a way that the color can only be distinguished from the artifact surface’s color within 30㎝ of the artifact, whereas it should be indistinguishable at 1m or more from the artifact.
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7. After treatment Documentation
  • Document and take photographs of the treatment process and post-treatment status.
  • Packaging: Fix a artifact in polyethylene foam safely and package it together with materials such as silica gel that can remove moisture.
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Ceramics and Glass Artifacts

About Conservation Treatment of Ceramics and Glass Artifacts

Ceramics, earthenware, roof tiles, and glass artifacts can resist chemical damage but are vulnerable to physical damage caused by incorrect conservation treatment and mismanagement. Thus, conservation treatment focuses on maintaining the original forms in consideration of conservation material stability, but earthenware have archeological value, so conservation treatment is conducted so as to distinguish between the prototype and the restored area.

Conservation Treatment Process of Ceramics and Glass Artifacts

1. Pre-treatment Survey and Analysis
  • Diagnose the relic structure, survey areas requiring restoration, type of contaminant, and the artifact’s art history and historical value, and write documentation cards
  • Take pictures of and conduct 3D scanning of artifacts before conservation treatment (The whole and detailed pattern).
  • Non-destructive investigation: Identify the artifact structure and past treatment traces (X-ray, UV light, etc.)
  • Component analysis: Analyze the artifact’s materials and contaminants (XRF, XRD, FT-IR, etc.).
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2. Dismantling
  • Target ceramic wares that have already undergone repair and conservation treatment.
  • Use organic solvents and other relevant chemicals and separate the restored area safely.
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3. Removal of stains (cleaning)
  • Apply different cleaning methods according to types of stains.
    • Physical cleaning method: Use dental implements, steam cleaners, air brushes, etc.
    • Chemical cleaning method: Use organic solvents, chelating agents, etc.
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4. Attachment of the original fragments
  • Use different kinds of glue depending on the material properties of cultural assets.
    • Solvent evaporation glue (e.g., Paraloid b72, Cemedine-C)
    • Chemical reaction glue (e.g., Epoxy, Cyanoacrylate, poly urethane)
  • Apply coating solution on the edge of each side to form a separate coating film, and attach both sides considering reversibility.
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5. Restoration
  • Restoration should be conducted in such a way that the restored area should not exceed the size of the ceramic form by more than one-third.
  • Restoration materials include epoxy resins which can maintain the artifact form.
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6. Inpainting
  • Match the color of the restored area with that of the artifact, using pigments and acrylic water colors.
  • Inpainting methods include pointillism using fine-hair brushes, and a spray method.
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7. Documentation
  • After conservation treatment, document the survey results, take pictures, and package for storage.
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Stone Heritages

About the Conservation Treatment of Stone Heritages

The rocks of which stone heritages are made appear to be stable materialistically, but most of them are located outdoor and are supposed to sustain rapid damage over time and according to the changing environment after drastic weathering.
Diverse types of damage - such as stone surface weathering, detachment, cracking, exfoliation, and the formation of pores - are being exacerbated by environmental pollution related to industrialization and acid rain. Thus, stone heritages require more stable and effective conservation treatment technologies.
In this regard, we conduct onsite surveys and environmental monitoring of heritages to present long-term conservation methods and to provide technical guidance on the management of damaged heritages along with conservation treatment.

Conservation Treatment Process of Stone Heritages

1. Pre-treatment Status Survey and Analysis
  • Draft drawings of weathering impact and conduct pre-treatment documentation through detailed surveys and 3D scanning.
  • Use ultrasonic technique, portable microscopes and other relevant scientific devices to survey weathering levels and strengths on the spot, and use the results in determining the scope of conservation.
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2. Emergency Conservation Treatment
  • Use reversible methods and apply emergency conservation treatment to potentially vulnerable areas of stone heritages when dismantling them.
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3. Cleaning
  • Dry wash surface impurities, mosses, and herbaceous plants and remove them with sticks, push sticks, knives and other small implements.
  • Wash using the distilled water wet cleaning, micro-abrasive and dry ice methods
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4. Joining
  • Join damaged sections or sections restored with new stones, using polymer synthetic resins such as epoxy resins.
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5. Filling
  • The method by which, when pores have formed inside the rock due to weathering, one creates an mineral binder similar to the rock into a solution and fills the pores with the solution.
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6. Consolidation
  • The method by which one uses ethyl silicate agents to consolidation the rock’s surface in order to prevention it from sureface weathering action.
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7. Restoration
  • In the case of damaged sections restored based on an estimation of their production place and an analysis of their center axis, consider their outdoor exposure environment and apply conservation treatment to them after additional adhesion and strengthen.
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Mural Heritages

About the Conservation Treatment of Mural

Korean mural include diverse ancient murals ranging from the murals that decorate the interiors and exteriors of temple buildings to those spanning the Three Kingdoms Period to the Joseon period. As they are exposed to the exterior environment, most of the murals have sustained diverse types of damage caused by contact with the atmospheric environment, by various animals and plants, and by building developments.
To conserve the domestic mural, we are building up a data based on surveys of the conservation status of domestic temple murals. We use infrared ray and survey murals and Dancheong (Traditional Korean decorative coloring on wooden buildings), thus providing the results as research data in the area of arts history among others. We have also conducted research on filling agents and other treatment materials for use in the conservation treatment of walls. These research findings will be applied in the conservation treatment of murals on earth walls. Based on the surveys of the Goguryeo ancient murals, we will conduct mid-to-long-term research on the conservation of ancient tomb murals.

Conservation Treatment Process of Mural

1. Emergency Conservation Treatment
  • When relocating a mural for the purpose of conservation treatment, a facing treatment should be given to protect and stabilize the various layers of its coloring.
  • Facing treatment should be conducted so as not to affect the layers of coloring, and should be easily removable to facilitate future conservation treatment.
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2. Pre-treatment Survey and Analysis
  • Record the mural's material, size, structure and current status on a survey card, and taking pictures.
  • Non-destructive survey: the method by which one surveys murals without destroying or removing them.
    • Microscope survey: Use a microscope, and observe and record the mural's micro-status, contaminants, etc.
    • Infrared survey: Identify and record any sketches, ink lines and calligraphic inscriptions etc. that cannot be well seen visually.
    • Pigment analysis: Use a portable XRF analyzer and analyze the components of the pigments used in the layers of coloring.
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3. Cleaning
  • The process by which to remove contaminants from a mural’s surface.
  • Wash coloring layers so as not to damage the mural.
  • Dry cleaning: Use brushes, small dental implements, etc. to clean the surface.
  • Wet cleaning: Use distilled water and solvents and wash the mural according to the status of its coloring layers.
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4. filling
  • If a mural has sustained cracking, peeling, exfoliation or other physical damage, the missing or damaged part should be reinstated.
  • Use reinstating materials such as synthetic resins or filling materials similar to those to the original material.
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5. Reinforcement
  • Use adhesives and color the mural to prevent the crumbling and detachment of pigments and other coloring layer damage and to stabilize the mural, thereby reinforcing the layers of coloring.
  • Reinforcing agents should not cause any changes to the mural and its coloring layers (Discoloration, polish). Reversible agents that can be re-treated in the future are recommended.