The applied art and design sub-collections consist of textile objects, furniture, appliances, glassware, ceramics, toys, jewelry, tools and models. They include unique pieces, mass-produced items and everything in between, and the technical construction and quality of the pieces vary greatly.
Due to the enormous diversity of materials, the applied-arts restorer often arranges for outside specialists to restore for instance furniture and ceramic, metal and textile objects.
In recent years part of the ceramics collection underwent a condition check, and it soon became clear that cataloging the materials and techniques used was going to prove difficult: glaze types and firing processes are often hard to determine as they may have constituted trade secrets or were simply not recorded.
ANALYSIS OF WORKING METHODS
In the past when objects were acquired, details about materials and techniques were not always recorded though they are essential to the objects’ care and conservation. The curator and an outside ceramics conservator analyzed the working methods of a number of artists (some still living), including Hans Coper, Wouter Dam, Philip Eglin, Babs Haenen, Geert Lap, Barbara Nanning and Lucie Rie.
Looking at the objects, questions were raised regarding the kinds of tools, glazes and slip layers the artist had used, as well as how many times a given object had been fired (i.e., the number of kiln runs) and at what temperature. Information from curators and art galleries, notes from interviews with the artist, several written sources and other pieces by the same artist helped the conservator establish which techniques and materials had been used. This is valuable information in itself, but also vital for the future preservation of the objects.