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Analytical Investigations of Silver Stained Glass

Silver staining has been a convenient method for glass artists to achieve a permanent yellow colour by applying silver compounds mixed with an inert aluminosilicate such as ochre or clay on the glass surface and treat the panels at temperatures just below the softening range of the glass. Depending on the parameters of the manufacturing process the final colour of the silver stain can vary from bright yellow to orange or brown.

The aim of the research project was to investigate the parameters of the manufacturing process affecting the final colour of silver stained glass and to correlate them with the final colour and colour intensity. Therefore, measurements were carried out on defined, self-preperad mixtures of ochre and a silver compound (AgCl, AgNO3, Ag2SO4, Ag3PO4, Ag2O) applied on soda-lime glass. The firing process was modified within the range of 563° C and 630° C and glass samples were analysed after the treatment with energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence analysis (EDXRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM/EDX), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) as well as ion beam analysis (IBA) with an external beam. Within the scope of IBA simultaneous measurements using particle-induced x-ray emission (PIXE), particle-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE), and Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy (RBS) were carried out in order to obtain the thickness of the Ag-rich surface layer and the depth distribution of Ag. By means of TEM the microstructure of the silver particles could be visualised.

Self-prepared silver stain glass panels (Kristel De Vis, Department Conservation/Restoration Glass, Polytechnic University of Antwerp), showing different colours of silver stain

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