Paint Analysis

The current ongoing restoration work on Tower Bridge involves the removal of all earlier layers of paint in order to ensure the complete adherence of the new paint. It was important to record the decorative history before all evidence was lost. Patrick Baty of Papers and Paints was tasked to carry out the paint research. (Watch Paint Analysis video)

Samples of paint were taken and documentary and photographic records in the London Metropolitan Archives were examined.

The documentary and photographic records in the London Metropolitan Archives were examined
Some examples of the photographic records in the London Metropolitan Archives
Representative elements were taken to establish the decorative history
Representative elements were taken to establish the decorative history
Samples were removed with a hammer and chisel
Samples were removed with a hammer and chisel
Paint sample removed for analysis
Paint sample removed for analysis
Each sample was numbered and placed in small bags
Each sample was numbered and placed in small bags
The best of the samples were selected and placed in moulds with a label to identify them
The best of the samples were selected and placed in moulds with a label to identify them
Close-up of paint sample
Close-up of paint sample
The paint flakes were placed in half-filled moulds. Quick-setting resin was poured over them, and they were left to harden
The paint flakes were placed in half-filled moulds. Quick-setting resin was poured over them, and they were left to harden (Drawing by Catherine Hassall)
Paint sample in resin block
Paint sample in harden resin block
The resin blocks were cut through and polished
The resin blocks were cut through and polished (Drawing by Catherine Hassall)
The resisn block after it has be cut
The two sections before being polished
Polished resin block containing paint sample
The polished resin block containing paint sample
Examination was carried out using different microscopes
Examination was carried out using different microscopes
Cross section from Helm
Cross section from Helm
Photomicrograph of sample taken from Lamp stand, which has been digitally enlarged by 200x
Photomicrograph of sample T13R/4 (x200 digitally enlarged) which was taken from lamp standard No 12: Frieze of capital