The imitation pot plants probably date to the 19th century and were intended as garden or balcony display ornaments. They are made from pressed zinc sheet and soft soldered together on an internal iron tube. On arrival in the studio they were in a very poor condition with the majority of the leaves missing, shotgun pellet damage, distortion and opening of solder joints. Both plants were missing their plant pots and their decorative painted finish and both, but paint traces were found in recesses of the leaves.
Replacement leaves were cut from zinc sheet and the scalloped edges formed over a custom made pattern. The veins in the leaves were made using purpose made dies for the mechanical press tool before finally gently heating each leaf and forming it over a curved pattern. New pots were fabricated from pure iron sheet and welded together, and to provide stability, lead sheet was fixed into the pot base to lower the centre of gravity. As it was not possible to solder the new leaves in position due to the crystallisation of the original zinc, the new leaves were fixed into position using adhesives and fillers. The paint flakes were consolidated, and, these backed up by wider research, provided evidence for the restoration of the paint finish.
The variety of processes, from the delicate re-adhesion of the fragile original paint flakes, to producing dies, patterns and the new components, researching the finish, restoring the finish and writing up the conservation report that was necessary for these objects provided an ideal training exercise for our ICON intern and NHIG student.