Sunday, 8 October 2017

Nitromors magic

This huge (34cm tall) glazed "Etruscan" vase arrived from Ebay last month. It was listed with what looked like white scuff marks to the surface, and this made sense as these pots are quite susceptible to surface damage.   However when it arrived this scuffing turned out to be white paint - it looked like someone had brushed against it when painting nearby.
Old pots often collect small specks of paint, presumably from being left in situ while ceilings are being rollered.  Paint doesn't stick very well to a glazed surface and usually specks of paint will wash off easily with warm water.  The paint on this pot was a different matter however.  The rough unglazed surface made a perfect canvas and the paint was stuck.   Luckily I remembered reading in a pot conservation guide that nitromors is used by conservators to remove old glue from repairs.  It seemed quite drastic at the time, but an old can of nitromors and several cotton wool buds later and the vase looks to be in factory-fresh condition.  It turns out that nitromors will burn skin, completely melt paint, but magically leaves pottery untouched.
The pattern is AB and it was painted by Ruth Pavely in the early 1930's.  The V&A have a similar vase.

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