materials is the object made of (e.g., brass, wood, oil on canvas)?
How was it made (e.g., carved, cast, etched)?
This category records the materials and techniques used in the
creation and decoration, as well as in any subsequent repairs
to or adaptations of the object. Descriptions of objects often
combine these two types of information (e.g., pen and black
ink with gray wash on paper), making it difficult for non-experts
to distinguish between a material and a technique. To obviate
that confusion, Object ID brings the two together in the single
category Materials & Techniques.
may know that an object is made of wood, maybe even that
it is made of more than one type of wood, but not that it is of
rosewood cross-banded with kingwood and lacewood and inlaid with
satinwood banding and boxwood lines. Where there is uncertainty
about the exact material, use a broad term (e.g., wood, ceramic,
metal), or if there are only two or three possible materials,
record them with appropriate qualification (e.g., oak or elm).
descriptions vary from those that simply list the materials and
techniques employed (e.g., painted papier mâché
and glass), to ones that provide information about which parts
of the object were made using which materials and techniques (e.g.,
ivory drum and a silver-gilt embossed and chiselled mount).
Both approaches are useful, although the latter is of more value
when it comes to visualizing, and therefore being able to identify,
In the case
of furniture it is common practice to describe only the visible
surface materials and/or the technique employed (e.g., mahogany
veneered, marquetry) and not the secondary internal materials,
even if they constitute the greater part of the object. Museums,
on the other hand, often record both primary and secondary materials
(e.g., maple and yellow poplar with yellow and white pine),
while some record which parts of the object are made from which
type of wood.
Black walnut case, doors, drawer fronts, top board on desk,
and feet; pine drawer bottoms, sides, and backs.
& Techniques can also be used to provide information about
the color(s) of an object (e.g., black chalk, pink plastic). Some
objects are of a single color, or a small number of dominant colors.
In these cases, it is well worth recording the color(s), since
they can provide an important means of identifying the objects.
Many objects, however, such as most paintings, have so many colors
that attempting to list them all is a time-consuming and pointless