A previous post introduced you to this demotic jar, currently on view in the Lab. The first step in its treatment was to clean the surface, which was very black due to dust.
It was necessary to make some tests on the ceramic to determine which way to clean was the best, meaning the safest for the object. Indeed, the black inscription on the jar is fragile and water sensitive. The first rule was to choose a non -aqueous method, that’s why I first thought about…erasers !
Test 1 : Sanford Magic Rub Eraser. Test 2: Staedtler stick eraser.Test 3 : Latex eraser.
As you can see on the picture, the erasers seem to be the best choice, especially the n.2. Indeed, it can be applied with different levels of strength according to the amount of dust to remove.
Ethanol was also to be tried, being a “light” solvent; but the issue with a solvent is that you can’t control how it penetrates in the material, especially with a porous ceramic. So the best choice seemed to be the Staedler eraser.
It was then time to test this cleaning method on the inscription.
The eraser appeared to work well, removing only the black grime and not the inscription. Of course, one has to be careful with this method, and not to press the eraser too hard or the black ink could disappear as well !
So I went on and cleaned all the other fragments.
In a general way, cleaning an object is very rewarding for a conservator, because the result can be seen at once. And pictures taken before and after are often impressive.
However, some things could not be improved; many demotic signs are lost due to water damage that occurred in the burial environment so the text isn’t complete. Moreover, a few fragments didn’t change after being cleaned, and still look dusty even if they aren’t.
Here is the general result, after all the fragments were cleaned.
Next step: de-gluing the fragments !