Chinese Diorama Table, 2

Continuing from the first post of our client’s Chinese carved diorama
from the nineteenth century, we move now to the
reparation of the figurines and decorative elements.

Phase Three, Reparation

We used two glues, hide (we use only Old Brown Glue)
and fish glue (we made this time), depending upon the two surfaces being glued.
I am not fond of the smell of either, though Mitchell keeps trying to
reframe it for me, as he calls it the “smell of success!”


  1. The protocol was to make sure the piece was properly positioned before gluing.
  2. The gluing surface was lightly scuffed with a fine, tiny amazing tool called
    Sandits Sanding Sticks, (though we buy them in large lots of the various grits)
    a bit like a Q-Tip dipped in sandpaper.
  3. Hide glue was applied to both sides, being careful not to apply too much — I could not come back and remove excess glue at the risk of removing the decorative colors.
  4. The piece was either shimmed to hold it in place, or held for about ten minutes until it set up.
  5. Broken pieces were allowed to set overnight before a second gluing.

Simpler glued pieces, above.

This little triangular piece of banister needed
a clever shim to hold it against the rocks for gluing!

The intact female was not broken; note she also had a previously applied
wooden shim on her backside (compare to the one below).

The broken female figure had a clean break, however, she was so very thin (no wood shim behind her) that securing her was difficult.  I had little room to create a wood shim, so I used Japanese paper, very thin, very strong, applied in layers with hide glue.  This sat overnight, and the next day I was able to slip her into place.

Reparation completed —
unless we find that newel post!

Above, the entire vignette divided into thirds with the details located in each third.
It is so lovely, I wanted to share!

Phase four, wooden base, next post!

Written by Kate Powell  ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.
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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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5 Responses to Chinese Diorama Table, 2

  1. Dan Antion says:

    I can’t imagine working on this piece. It’s like an Escher drawing. How do you keep track of where you are and where you’ve been? You guys are amazing.

    • This wasn’t so hard on this table… I carefully laid out the parts in the quadrants in the order they were attached. The biggest difficulty was the tiny parts that were hard to find. I had to lok for traces of hide glue to clue me in.

  2. Anna Konopko says:

    Hello, I’m a PhD researcher, working on a dissertation on Qing mixed media dioramas. Recently I found objects on auction from the same workshop (99% sure, same technology) and there was a stamp linking them to a Polish bishop Wojciech Józef Skarszewski (1743-1827). I’m trying to narrow down dating of similar works of art, so I’d like to ask if there were any labels or stamps on table? Regards! Anna

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