Silver communion set, Mariakirken, Bergen. Norway
This communion set was part of a group of 30 church silver items, and assosicated material, from Mariakirken, Bergen, that required cleaning, tarnish removal and a variety of further conservation treatments.
The items ranged from silver spoons and small containers to large serving vessels and plates, varying considerably in size, style and age.
The images clearly show the objects were in very poor condition due to damp and mould, with previously adhered parts now separated, deformation of the card elements and degradation and staining of the velvet textile. The silver cup and candlestick holders were severely tarnished and the silver bottle lids were corroded and pitted in localised areas.
The case was placed in a fume cupboard for an extended period of time to completely dry out, and for the mould spores to become inactive. The case surfaces were then dry cleaned using a soft brush and vacuum extraction. Re-adhesion of all elements was undertaken using wheat starch paste and an acrylic dispersion, in combination with japanese tissue and cotton tape, where lining/ reinforcing was necessary. The thermoplastic properties of the acrylic dispersion were utilised where necessary by reactivating with solvents and/or softening with a heated spatula, to control adhesive application and prevent staining of paper or textile.
As the silver is to continue to be used within the church, there was an expectation for it to be completely clean and free of all tarnish. A series of approaches to tarnish removal, starting from the least abrasive and/or interventive, was trialled to achieve the level of clean required. Methods included degreasing with organic solvents, minimal and local polishing with a mildly abrasive silver polishing cloth, use of a mildly abrasive polishing cream made from precipitated chalk, and use of a chemical solution in heavily tarnished areas.Thorough rinsing was vital to ensure all residue of these materials was removed.
Providing the client with information about after-care was particularly important in this case, including cleaning and storage approaches to minimise the risk of damage in the future.