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2020 11 20 NH 109.LR

Labelling a metal or ceramic object

In this training, we demonstrate best practice techniques for applying labels to metals and ceramics.

How to apply a label to a stable metal or ceramic object

Using Paraloid to label objects is challenging. It requires chemicals, a ventilated work space and time. It can take a lot of practice to become confident using this method but it can provide a very effective object label. 


As with all chemicals, it is important to understand the properties and risks of Paraloid B72, Paraloid B67 and Acetone prior to using them.

When working with these chemicals, wear nitrile or latex gloves as they can be harmful to your skin. Additionally, work in a well ventilated space as the Acetone emits harmful fumes. The Paraloid and Acetone must be clearly labelled and securely stored in a suitable chemical cupboard when not in use.

At National Museums Scotland we favour the use ofParaloid B72 as it works best with Acetone. Traditionally Paraloid B67 is also used but its chemical makeup makes it more of an ‘oily’ base that works best with White Spirits. As White Spirits are a degree more dangerous to use than Acetonewe recommend sticking to Paraloid B72 and Acetone where possible. 

Labelling metals and ceramics with the application of paraloid B72

In the video below, Collections Technician Kelly Rennie demonstrates how to apply a label to a metal or ceramic object.

Key learning points:

Always assess the object’s surface prior to application:

  1. Some object surfaces react badly to inks, acetone and Paraloid, particularly in combination. If it is a plastic or varnished object, if the surface is fragile or its material makeup is unknown, consult a conservator before application.
  2. Use a different labelling method for more porous ceramics or plastics such as the Japanese tissue method. This involves the application of Japanese tissue with Paraloid and writing the number on the tissue rather than the object.
  3. Ensure whatever writing implement you choose has ink that is water soluble and therefore removable with the right chemicals.
  4. Only undertake this method in well ventilated spaces; the chemicals are harmful to breathe in large quantities.

Pros of labelling with Paraloid B72:

  • Can be discreet for display when done effectively
  • Secure to the object, can’t fall off or be lost

Cons of labelling with Paraloid B72:

  • Can be unsightly for display if not done effectively
  • This method isn’t safe for all object surfaces
  • Can wear off with age or abrasion to the choice of label location
Labelling metal or ceramic objects
Method Statement Object Labelling Using Paraloid
PDF (460.1 KB)

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