Even where only a few fragments of an object remain, it may still be desirable to display the object and give some idea of its original shape and dimensions. Enough of the object needs to be present to be able to work out the diameter and profile of the vessel. Providing this information exists, an object can be reconstructed from a small amount of original material.

Firstly the remaining fragments are bonded together where possible in order to work out the internal and external profiles of the vessel. From these measurements templates of the inner and outer surfaces are cut from plastic sheet. Metal can also be used if a stronger material is needed although this was felt to be unsuitable for the Bronze Age Ceramics Project due to the condition of the vessels.

The internal template is mounted onto the spinning frame, in this case an adapted potters wheel, and used to shape a core made from clay. This is covered with a layer of the material from which the reconstruction is to be formed, usually plaster. The internal template is replaced with the external template and the frame is passed over the plaster whilst it is still soft to give an even layer.

If there are a large number of fragments present, they can be placed onto the clay core and the remaining area filled with plaster. Where one or two fragments only remain, it may be easier to create a complete shape in plaster and cut away a hole for each piece once it has hardened. The fragments can be attached with adhesive once the plaster has dried completely.

A potters wheel with a clay core sitting in the middle. there are fragments of pot positioned on the clay core

Before the introduction of cutting equipment, missing sections were built up by hand to an estimated shape. This method was often employed by many of the early restorers working on the ceramic collections because other methods were simply unavailable to them. This was time consuming and, unfortunately, errors resulting in an inaccurate shape were common.



A hand-held tool with a vibrating mechanism. The vibrations produced by applying the point of the tool to the material to be removed will break it down and is particularly effective on tough materials like cement and concrete.


Individual fragments of ceramic vessels


A method used for reconstructing objects when little of the original remains.