An Egyptian painted mummy shroud is undergoing an exciting conservation treatment and Rita Berg is discussing various stages along the way.
BkM conservators are faced with a challenging task of consolidating the flaking and powdering paint layers on a two-thousand year old painted mummy shroud. Prior to doing any work on the original, a series of mock-ups were prepared in order to conduct testing of various adhesives. The mock-ups, as seen in this image, reproduce the layers of the original painted textile using linen strips that have been primed with rabbit skin glue, covered with gesso, and painted with dry pigments bound in animal glue or gum arabic. To reproduce the type of damaged surface that is seen on the original, the mock-ups were distressed by folding, creasing, and scratching.
For testing, conservators selected natural glues that are compatible with the materials of the shroud. These included funori (an extract from seaweed), isinglass (a water soluble glue made from fish bladders), and gelatin (a mixture of proteins obtained from skin, ligaments, and tendons). Different mixtures and methods of application were tested to find the best result without altering the matte appearance of the paint surface.
Next post I’ll discuss the consolidation technique selected for the original shroud.
Posted by Rita Berg