Tortoiseshell Box Conservation Series – A Domed Box With Cracked Shell (Part 3)


After creating a properly shaped caul for the domed lid, the next step was to bring the pieces of the top into the closest proper conformation I could.  The end point for this process would be an applied backing support to the underside of the fractured area, but first I had to get the pieces in place with an outer “cast.”  By placing the caul on the underside, with gentle clamping (pressing it with great force would in the end accomplish nothing beneficial; as it is working with tortoiseshell is risky enough), I was able to get the two sides of the cracked shell into very god conformity.


Knowing this, I cleaned the affected area and glued on a small piece of linen to the outer surface with hot hide glue. This step was hard to photograph but here is the final result; a very stiff, hard sheath on the outer surface to hold in in place while additional work progressed on the inside.

One exciting development in this step was the design and creation of some new clamps that fit the bill perfectly and will become an indispensable part of my conservation tool kit.  I’ll blog about those in a few days.