Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Art Conservation, M.A., C.A.S.


Art Conservation Department


Emily Hamilton

Department Home page

First Reader

Dr. Rebecca Ploeger

Second Reader

Jiuan Jiuan Chen

Third Reader

Dr. Aaron Shugar


Inlaid wooden objects are complex and intricate mixed media assemblages that can provide significant challenges to the conservator, as the properties of the individual materials can conflict and complicate treatment options. For example, traditional inlay materials such as ivory and mother-of-pearl are particularly susceptible to shifts in moisture and acidity, and the hygroscopic nature of historic proteinaceous adhesives can exacerbate dimensional changes in the surrounding wood. This paper describes the research and subsequent treatment to stabilize and restore a Qing dynasty wooden tabletop chest inlaid with ivory, mother-of-pearl, and various siliceous minerals. A combination of adhesive failure along multiple joints and significant physical damage to the structure and surfaces had resulted in areas of splitting, checking, separation, and instability. Treatment aimed to restore functionality, as the object will be displayed and used in a private home. Numerous ethical concerns were considered during the course of treatment, such as the invasiveness of certain steps and the need for restoring function versus strictly maintaining form, but the priority for treatment remained the piece’s ultimate usability. The object was re-assembled with durability in mind, and a variety of approaches were utilized for securing new joins and filling losses in the wood. Once treatment was complete, the box was stabilized for regular handling and use in a private environment.