S – Glossary Terms

Salts (Ceramics/ Glass):

White crystal deposit visible on surface. Can cause catastrophic damage to surface and object itself. Salts occur on porous ceramics and appear as white powdery deposits on unglazed surfaces or along cracks and craze lines in the glaze.

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM):


Scientific Research (related to BM):

Science is used both to help protect and preserve and to elucidate the collections by informing preventive and interventive conservation approaches and improving understanding of the collections and their cultural context.


Linear marks on the surface caused by sharp or hard implement, often damaging outer surface or surface decoration/coating revealing fresher material underneath. Comment if look clean and bright, as may suggest damage has occurred recently.

Shattered (textiles):

Extensive splitting and loss in very deteriorated and brittle textile, usually silk, resulting from chemical breakdown of the material.


Where material has decreased in size, leaving gap or opening between joins. In textiles can cause bag (excess of material) or creasing where differential shrinkage between two different materials are joined.

Silvering (Paper):

Shiny or mirror-like discolloration in the shadow areas of a photographic image caused by the ageing of excessive residual silver compounds.

Sizing/ Resizing:

Snagged or pulled threads:



a black or dark brown material typically consisting of a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles, usually from excavation.


chemicals used in conservation to clean, remove accretions / adhesives, dilute adhesives to make them more workable.


Thin sharp slivers of wood, bone, ivory broken away from main body, along the grain, and projecting. Often around edge of break or split. May be at risk of snagging or further loss.

Split (CGM):

An opening or expansion in the material.


(textiles, skin & leather, plant fibre & barkcloth) : A break in the material, damage usually resulting from deterioration and loss of strength of the material, sometimes the result of force but may be gravity, often along fold lines. Little loss of material.


(wood, ivory) Along the grain or across the grain, usually result of the shrinking, drying, or from impact (there are lots of very specific terminology for splits in wood e.g. checks, but probably don’t need to be that specific here?) Measurements of width and length of splits useful to monitor change. Clean fresh or bright wood inside split may indicate more recent damage. Often not clean break edge but associated with splintering.

Squashed / crushed:

Inward or downward deformation resulting from external forces, usually of 3d objects in softer materials, e.g. hats, baskets.

Stabilise/ Stabilisation/ stable/ unstable/ strengthen:

Stains (Ceramics/ Glass):

localised patches of soiling penetrated into the surface and cannot be brushed off. On unglazed surfaces this may be apparent a dark areas. Glazed surfaces and glass may acquire smears from handling.

Stains (Metals):

Localised patches of soiling penetrated into the surface and cannot be brushed off or a localised discolouration, often caused by splashes of liquid or by contact with an acidic material, such as an adhesive or ink.

Stains (Stone):

A localised discolouration, often caused by splashes of liquid or by contact with an acidic material, such as an adhesive or ink.

Stains (Organics):

Localised patches of soiling, penetrated into the surface, cannot be brushed off, often result of liquid or oils.

Stiffened / Hardened / Inflexible:

of material which was originally pliable and soft e.g. skins, leather, barkcloth.


Surface corrosion products have been removed revealing the core or metal surface below.

Surface coating:

Transparent layer applied to the surface of an object. These maybe waxes, natural or synthetic resins intended as protective surface.

Surface dust and dirt / Particulate dirt:

Loose dirt, dust, grime, soot or other contaminant, lying on the surface, can be brushed off relatively easily.