Fully articulated, movable, steel shachi figurine Edo Period, Japan Owner: The British Museum Materials: Patinated steel and urushi lacquer Dimensions: 13.5 x 19.4 x 90.5 cm
The fish is dusty from storage. A rivet forming the proper left barbel was broken and had become detached, hanging precariously.
Treatment for loan, "Treasures of the World from the British Museum" traveling to Singapore. The goals of treatment were to restore movement and realign the rivet, creating a strong, “invisible repair” for travel, while not damaging the solvent-sensitive urushi. X-radiography with metals conservator Maickel van Bellegam revealed that the area of failure may have been a historic repair.
A fill was created using Japanese Tissue Paper, layered with Paraloid B-72 40% w/v in acetone bulked with microballoons. The resulting fill was flexible, but strong and easily carved to fill the tiny area of loss (2.5 x 4mm). In order to avoid damaging the acetone-sensitive urushi and the water-sensitive steel, 30% Paraloid B-67 in 1:9 xylene:petroleum spirits was used as an adhesive. The fill was attached using a removable Mylar backing to insure maneuverability of the rivet after the application of adhesive.
Once dry, the fill was in-painted with Golden Acrylic paints and Porcelain Restoration glaze to match the sheen of the surrounding lacquered steel.