Statue Conservation: August 6-17, 2006
Week one and two of statues project, supervised by Erik Risser (Getty Museum) assisted by Nerina de Silva (Institute of Archaeology U.K.), Semra Mägele (Cologne and K.U.Leuven) and Melih Ekinci (Istanbul University) continued on the statues of Poseidon and Satyr joined in 2005. Work on these two statues was intended to address the large structural and aesthetic gaps on both statues to achieve a uniform whole. The Satyr had two large missing areas: the right lower leg and left thigh section. In both areas the pins were still visible, rendering the figure incomplete visually and somewhat unstable structurally. The Poseidon figure had a missing section in its lower left calf. Both statues had large gaps around broken areas, such as the chest and right upper leg of the Poseidon and the entire lower section of the Satyr. Each type of gap required a specific solution. As with the reassembly of the year before, all work was undertaken emphasizing reversibility of any materials used, while using the most stable and appropriate materials.
In filling the aesthetic gaps, work was designed to reintegrate missing areas by first filling any gaps with medium density polyethylene foam, cut to fit the void. The foam would fill 90 percent of the volume of the gap. The exposed interior section would then treated with Paraloid B48N to create a reversible barrier on the stone that could easily be undone with common solvents and could then have a more permanent resin placed over the top and pushed onto the foam to reconstruct the remaining 10 percent of volume, as well as surface texture and detail similar to the surrounding stone. Two part Phillyseal epoxy resin putty was to be used to create this surface, its advantage being its chemical and physical durability, easy working properties, and time of catalization.
||Left, Melih, Erik, and Nerina at work in the museum. Right, Erik Risser works on a leg of the Satyr.
Structural gap fills required a different approach entirely. Whereas foam was used in aesthetic gaps to facilitate work, structural fills had to be entirely of resin so that the fill material could support the full weight of the statue and be able to handle and channel any stresses placed upon the object during movement, storage or display. The easiest approach would be simply to use a resin to reconstruct the missing areas in situ. Because of the necessity of reversibility however, work had to proceed differently. Missing sections would have to be reconstructed in sections that, once joined together, would create the missing whole. For the calf of the Poseidon and the right lower leg of the Satyr, the section was first to made in plaster in several parts and from these resin casts made that could then be joined onto the pin and break joins. Prior to joining, each section would be coated with Paraloid to give a reversible material that would allow the resin sections to removed if need be in the future. The upper left thigh of the Satyr, because of its complex angle and surface morphology would have to have yet another approach. Here, the sections were to be made in-place in resin. Each section would be made and the interior surfaces made flat at oblique angles to one another so that other sections could be created on top of these. In this way the missing area would be built-up piece by piece and likewise could be easily taken apart piece-by-piece.
Any small cracks would equally be filled with a reversible gap-filler consisting of cellulose powder, fumed silica, and marble powder in a Paraloid B48N matrix. This would be applied to the cracks and then cut and shaped to replicate the surrounding surface morphology. The advantage to this material is its ease of manufacture, application, and both wet and dry manipulation.
For the first week, worked progressed on both statues simultaneously, with the large non-structural fills being filled with foam, the stone treated with Paraloid, and the surface recreated with epoxy putty. Work on the structural fills also began, with the plaster sections created and shaped for both the Poseidon and Satyr.
In the second week, the aesthetic gap-fills--both epoxy putty for large voids and Paraloid fill for small cracks--were refined by cutting, rasping, filing, and sanding. Plaster piece molds were made of the structural gap-fills and work was begun on the sectional resin gap-fill of the upper right thigh of the Satyr.