All About Glass

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Restoring Tiffany

All About Glass

Here’s the ultimate jigsaw puzzle: take 40 pieces of shattered glass in varying sizes, and hundreds of tiny chips of glass, and put them together to restore a rare Tiffany Peacock Eye Lamp base to its full glory.

That’s just what the Museum’s conservator, Stephen Koob, has done. Unless you examine it very closely, you probably won’t even realize you are looking at a previously shattered lamp.

Koob, one of the world’s foremost glass conservators, works almost by instinct at this point in his career. “The lamp broke with part of the rim intact all the way down the object,” describes Koob. To start the restoration process, he separated fragments by %%size%%. While he teaches new conservators to begin a project by laying out broken pieces and rebuilding an object from the bottom up, Koob simply started with the largest broken piece and rebuilt the lamp, adding on to the intact rim piece by piece.

The challenge, says Koob, is that “There’s only one order in which to put broken pieces of glass back together. If you make a mistake, you get a lock-out, with pieces left over.”

To aid in more easily correcting mistakes, Koob has developed an acrylic-based adhesive especially for glass. It holds broken pieces together, but can be removed with solvent or heat, without damage to the glass, if pieces need to be moved.

The entire restoration took several months because Koob was only able to glue in one to three pieces a day, in order to allow the adhesive to dry. “I made an effort to put in every piece,” says Koob. In the end, only a small handful of indistinguishable dust was left.

The lamp, broken during a house renovation, was donated by Ennion Society Members Jay and Micki Doros for restoration and acquisition. 

Published on October 18, 2011