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Subject: Tortoise shell

Tortoise shell

From: Bart Greebe <anjelier>
Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Greg Peters <gregnpeters [at] effect__net__au> writes

>Does anyone where I can obtain tortoise shell, faux tortoiseshell or
>a tortoiseshell substitute within or near to Australia (to be used
>for patching a 19th century boulle cabinet).

In December 2002 the Sixth International Symposium on Wood and
Furniture Conservation took place in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The
theme was "The meeting of East and West in the furniture trade.
Answering your question were the following two lectures:

    Tortoiseshell imitations
    Ms. Elisabeth Grall, private furniture conservator, Paris

        Due to its exclusiveness tortoiseshell has been imitated
        with various materials. An imitation of this exotic material
        by the use of horn is presented. Its behaviour when exposed
        to variations in temperature, humidity and light makes it a
        reliable material to be used by conservators.

    The problem of substitutes for tortoiseshell
    Mr. Donald Williams, furniture conservator, Smithsonian Center
    for Materials Research and Conservation, Washington

        Various materials have been used to imitate tortoiseshell.
        Esthetic characters and physical properties are compared, as
        well as their suitability in conservation.

Recent developments under review by the U.S. Patent Office provide a
source of faux tortoiseshell with working properties remarkably
similar to the genuine material.

The presented examples of the different approaches were remarkable;
Mr. Donald Williams' method even makes it possible to scan in and
print out the desired pattern. Pity for you is the postprints are
still under construction.

I hope you are aware that the tortoise shell used on 19th century
boulle furniture is something completely different than the 1 or 2
mm. thick carett-tortoiseshell used in the 17th century. In the 19th
century the used tortoiseshell is just a film-layer of 1 or 2 tenth
of a mm. backened with paper, glue, pigments to get to the thickness
of the surrounding brass. The used tortoiseshell can be of different
kinds, even from nowadays *not* forbidden ones.

Bart Greebe
Bruys Meubel- en interieurrestauratie

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:67
                 Distributed: Wednesday, April 30, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-67-005
Received on Wednesday, 30 April, 2003

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