Loss compensation on a Michoacan inlaid tray using pigmented B-72 film

Paula Hobart, Mina Thompson, and Maureen Russell

Abstract

This paper illustrates an interesting loss compensation technique for a Mexican Michoacan wooden lacquer tray owned by the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) in Santa Fe, NM (Fig.1). The tray dates to the 1920s and was made using the traditional inlaid technique called embutida or incrustada. The tray had a large loss in the lacquer layer along the rim. A footprint of the original inlaid design was visible in the area of loss due to staining of the wooden substrate from the original lacquer. Pigmented Acryloid B-72 in acetone was cast in thin films and cut to fit the inlaid design in the area of loss. This type of loss compensation simulates the traditional Michoacan inlaid technique by using the visible design pattern in the wooden substrate. Traditional gap-filling materials and methods were less suitable for this particular object due to the thinness of the loss and the desire to make use of the visible design pattern in the substrate. Advantages of this technique include minimal intervention and a dry fill material with no residues to penetrate into the substrate, producing an easily reversible fill. This loss compensation technique can be applied to other materials with similar requirements.

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