This week we have started the process of making replicas for the future, in collaboration with the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC), part of the School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University. The replicas are intended to be indiscernible from the originals when viewed through a display case. They are intended for use in the new Hoard gallery (at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) when the original pieces are either on display elsewhere, being conserved or studied.
The first object that we will replicate is K270, one of the cloisonné lentoids. To do this the JIIC have firstly observed and recorded the original object. They have made written notes, taken photographs, taken measurements and colour matched metals and garnets whilst conferring with the conservators about details that are essential for the copy.
The next stage is using laser scanning equipment to digitally capture data. The scanning technology they will use is highly accurate down to a 4 or 5 micron level and is carried on a multi-functional positioning arm system. The scanning equipment is fully portable and scanning is carried out in the conservation department under the supervision of the conservators.
Once the data is captured, the next phases will be completed back at the JIIC offices in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, this includes the creation of CAD images.
Above (image 4) is a picture of the finished CAD image ready for Rapid Prototyping into a resin that will then be moulded, and in turn cast from a wax taken from the mould. You can see all the pockets have been carefully cut out ready for the resin garnet effect to be applied to the casting. The finely detailed beaded edge has been emphasised to allow for finish polishing, as has the lattice pattern in the centre. We will take you through these next steps as they happen.
As well as creating a one-to-one replica, this method of digitally replicating objects means that we can use the data to also produce materials and 3D prints of the objects that can be used for the education and outreach departments of the museum. It may also help us begin to understand the construction methods of manufacture for each piece.
We can also use the data to create images and 3D print objects that represent the Hoard artefact in its original and undamaged condition before it went into the ground. This will let us look at possibilities for how objects were used; since some have no currently known parallels in the Anglo-Saxon world as we presently know it.
We will continue to work with the JIIC to make replicas over the next year as funding allows, currently we are still fundraising for more replicas that will enhance our displays and add value for the visitors.
Hoard Conservation Coordinator
Technical Manager, JIIC School of Jewellery
Watch a video of the scanning process of object K130 in the video blog section.