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Subject: Reproducing niello

Reproducing niello

From: Maickel van Bellegem <mjtmvanbellegem>
Date: Friday, February 23, 2007
Renita Ryan <ryan.renita [at] saugov__sa__gov__au> writes

>Does anyone have experience in reproducing niello on a silver item
>that has been stripped back to silver metal?

When it comes to producing niello (gold- and silversmithing
manuscripts would tell you how to do it) there are many things to
consider. One is that there are many different recipes, as niello is
often a combination of the sulfides of silver, copper and/or lead,
and variations may occur with location and time of manufacture.
Another issue is health and safety, as some nasty fumes would likely
be created during production. Ethical issues should also be
considered before reproducing niello on a silver item. Is such a
"restoration" justifiable where information about original
manufacture techniques will be lost--as will, undoubtedly, original
material itself? In many cases the alternative--to paint-in the
losses of the niello--would be preferable.

Maickel van Bellegem
Metals conservator


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:43
                  Distributed: Tuesday, March 6, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-20-43-004
                                  ***
Received on Friday, 23 February, 2007

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