Isabel Okaya

I first developed an interest in conservation in high school, when I began digging up broken ceramics from abandoned landfill sites in my hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts and reassembling them at home. After high school, I gained experience in collections care and conservation through volunteering opportunities in small museums and conservation studios in my home state. During my time on this course I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of materials, including ceramics, archaeological objects, natural history specimens, and even a gilded frame. I am hopeful that I will be able to continue my studies by doing the conservation MA at the University of Lincoln, so I can focus on my preferred specialism of ceramics conservation.



Private owner

UL No. 15/101

This Goryeo celadon dish, owned by Ruth Harrison, was missing a large fragment when it came in for treatment. The presence of an insoluble adhesive along the break edge indicated that an old fill had already been removed from the object. Most of the adhesive was removed mechanically, using a scalpel; the remaining adhesive was then removed using a steam cleaner.

It was felt that it was important for any gap-filling treatment to be easily reversible; therefore I chose to create a removable fill. A model for the replacement fill piece was built up in-situ using modelling wax. The wax fill was removed and used to create a two-piece silicone mould.

The fill piece was cast using a conservation-grade epoxy resin. Powder pigments were used to tint the resin to match the celadon stoneware body. After the fill piece had cured sufficiently, it was carved, sanded and polished to match the surface texture of the ceramic. The pattern was painted onto the fill using colour-matched Golden Acrylic paints, and then coated with Golden Porcelain Glaze gloss medium. The completed fill piece was then adhered to the ceramic using Paraloid B-72, a reversible, conservation-grade adhesive.

Goryeo Celadon Dish 



Anglo-Saxon Annular Brooch



Custodian: Adam Daubney (Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer)

UL No. 18/093.19

This annular brooch was excavated from an Anglo-Saxon burial site in Scremby, Lincolnshire. The round brooch frame was made of a copper alloy, and there were two fragments of the original iron pin. The underside of the pin fragments had preserved textile fibres attached to them.

Careful surface cleaning was carried out on the brooch frame to remove the dirt obscuring the object’s surface. To avoid damage, cleaning was carried out under magnification using a microscope. The dirt was softened with a solution of industrially denatured alcohol (IDA) and water, and removed mechanically using a variety of implements including pins, thorns, and a white plastic eraser. The remaining dirt was removed with moist cotton swabs, using the IDA/water solution.

The copper alloy frame of the brooch was mostly protected by a stable patina; however, there were signs of active copper corrosion. To prevent further corrosion, the brooch was treated with benzotriazole (BTA), a corrosion inhibitor. The object was then coated with Incralac, a protective acrylic varnish containing BTA.

The pin fragments were extremely brittle, and were consolidated with a thin solution of Paraloid B-72 during cleaning. The dirt was softened using IDA and pinged off with a pin. Some dirt was left on the pin, as removing it would have damaged the fragile textile fibres, destroying important archaeological information. The fragments were re-adhered to the brooch using Paraloid B-72.




Owner: Rockbourne Roman Villa 

This taxidermy mouse came from Rockbourne Roman Villa, a Hampshire Cultural Trust site, where it was part of a diorama of a traditional Roman-style Kitchen. The mouse had been badly damaged by insects and had large missing patches of fur, and a hole in its belly as a result of insect damage. It was covered in surface dirt, clothes moth cases, and frass. 

The dirt and dust were removed by vacuuming. Dirt was dislodged from the fur and brushed into the vacuum using a soft brush. More stubborn dirt was removed using cotton swabs which were dampened slightly with distilled water. 

The mouse was “re-furred” using Japanese tissue, which has long fibres that are good for imitating fur. Watercolours were used to tone the paper to match the fur. To create tufts of fur, the toned tissue was pre-wetted; tweezers were used to pull small strips of paper which, when layered, resembled tufts of fur. These patches were adhered to the losses using EVA, a water-soluble synthetic adhesive commonly used in paper conservation. With its appearance significantly improved, the mouse was returned to Rockbourne Roman Villa.

Taxidermy House Mouse