The analysis of ceramic and glass works of art can take advantage of many of the same analytical techniques that are used for the analysis of a painting. The decoration and imagery which is painted onto a ceramic can be analyzed using optical microscopy, Raman microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence.  These techniques allow us to understand compositional profile of the material as well as identify materials used to produce color and images on the piece.


Because of the process of firing a ceramic in its production, materials used to color or decorate the object are typically inorganic pigments.  Inorganic pigments are often very directly identifiable with a nondestructive technique like x-ray fluorescence.


For ceramic sculptures which may have internal structure, x-ray imaging can be utilized to see this internal structure to help understand the process of how was made.  Examination of the internal structure can also provide some information about the technology used could be related to different eras and may be a possibility for help determine if the piece is consistent with certain age.


The analysis of glass objects regard to the composition of the glass as well as the materials used to produce colored glass can be accomplished using x-ray fluorescence, SEM/EDS and in some cases Raman microscopy.  Just as metals have different alloys, the formulation of different types of glass can be very specific regard to the points that are used to produce certain qualities for the glass.

We'd Love to Hear From You

If you would like further information on the scientific analysis of artwork and how it might be able to help you, please use the form below to send us a message. The procedure for having artwork analyzed is to first submit background information about the artwork along with a photograph(s) and what you are trying to determine about the artwork.  We will prepare a proposal for you, outlining the scope of the analysis and an estimate of the costs involved.  All communications with the Center for Art Materials Analysis are considered confidential.

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