Inpainting (Conserving Incised Inscriptions on Stone War Memorials)
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Inpainting (Conserving Incised Inscriptions on Stone War Memorials)

January 9, 2020

Surface finishes such as painting are often
found on incised lettering. These may have been originally, or subsequently applied as
a means of increasing legibility. Paint types and colours vary. Letters have
often been repainted black, but it isn’t uncommon to discover the original paint was
a different colour. In some cases, it may be necessary to take
a small sample of the original paint to establish the type and colour. The lettering may have
been re-painted and so the surface colour may not always be the same as the original. Some older paints may contain lead, so awareness
of this is essential so the necessary health and safety precautions can be taken. Loss of the paint or gilding will tend to
reduce legibility, so if cleaning doesn’t improve this, inpainting can improve it. Remaining paint which is flaking should either
be consolidated or carefully removed back to a sound substrate. New paintwork should be applied very carefully
so it doesn’t bleed or smudge beyond the edges of the letters. It must be carried out
with due regard for the surface, the style of lettering and any original paint colour.
This takes patience and an experienced hand. A clay barrier can be applied which will stop
any paint leaching into the stone. Since this is water soluble, it can carefully be removed
afterwards. Acrylic, potassium silicate, oil or enamel
may be chosen, depending on the stone type, condition and exposure. It isn’t always necessary to inpaint the
whole inscription, but touching in certain areas may be all that is required to make
the inscription more legible. More than one coat of paint is often necessary
and each coat needs to dry before the next is applied.

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