This summer the Conservation Lab is filled with fragments, even more than there usually are. All these fragments of Islamic lustre and stained glass don’t belong to one object. Most of them were once part of the extensive fragment collection of Ray Smith and came into the Museum’s collection in two batches in 1951 and 1968.
Although fragments aren’t as visually pleasing as whole or nearly whole objects, they still provide a lot of information about glassmaking techniques. It is also a lot easier to take a sample for analysis from a fragment than from a complete object.
In order to really study fragments like these, we need to be able to keep track of them just like any other object. Unfortunately, the Museum’s record keeping wasn’t always as comprehensive as it is now and many of these fragments were never formally accessioned. As you can imagine, accessioning and cataloguing hundreds of fragments is a big job. We’re trying to reduce that number by looking for joining fragments. This might sound like looking for a needle in a haystack, and in some ways it is, but laying out all the fragments in one place and arranging them according to colors and patterns makes it a little easier.
We have found several joins already!
After we get done with all the lustre and stained fragments, we get to start the whole process again with our enameled Islamic fragments.