KATE: This is a Japanese armour and it is a replica of a 12th Century armour which is in the shrine of Kasuga-taisha in Nara and it is one of Japan’s National Treasures. It’s known as the Plumb Blossom and Reed Warbler Armour because on the back there is a little bird which represents the Reed Warbler. In 1929 it was made and I understand it was put in a shop window and unfortunately red fades very badly in sunlight and so all this beautiful red braiding had faded so they came up with the bright idea of painting all of it red, except for the back because that hadn’t faded so badly and unfortunately they hadn’t done it very neatly, so my job was to work out how to remove all the red paint that had been splodged on this lacquer and on the gold decoration. Lacquer is quite a sensitive subject so you can’t just use any solvent and I had to do tests. Luckily if you remove lacquer on a cotton swab it glows under ultraviolet light so I was able to check to see whether the lacquer was being removed. and luckily I found a solvent that could remove the paint but not the lacquer, so over a two week period I managed to remove all of the excess red paint. The other thing was that it was very dusty and dirty and had had an insect infestation so there were bodies of insects stuck in the crevasses and underneath these gold decorations. With a vacuum cleaner and a brush I was able to suck out all the dust and the dirt and everything and able to clean it up, and on this doe skin I was able to clean the leather using a smoke sponge and that just made it brighter and cleaner. The other thing was that I had to clean all the lacquer itself and I did this with a gentler solvent than the one I used to remove the paint and just by cleaning it I was able to bring some of the shine back to the lacquer and having cleaned it and hoovered it and used solvents I brought it back to looking more respectable than when it was first given to me.