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Subject: Carved wooden relief

Carved wooden relief

From: Jessica Johnson <tqaa345>
Date: Friday, February 4, 1994
In reply to Michael Cogswell's question about storage/treatment of the
Nigerian wooden hand-carved relief.

Don't oil it.  Oil will only darken the surface, will probably not
penetrate to any great extent and will do nothing to stop structural
cracking. Application of surface coatings to ethnographic material is
rarely a good idea. As well as doing little for stabilization, applying
a material to your object that is not original brings up a lot of
ethical questions I won't go into here.

I'll give you one idea for low-tech, possibly better storage of your
statue. I'm sure there are many other objects conservators out there who
can give you alternatives.  You have identified the likely reason for
the cracking of your statue, cycling of temperature and humidity.
However, you say the statue is boxed and temp/humidity is supposed to
stay at 65F/45%.  I'll assume it doesn't.  So what you want to do is
create a microenvironment, a local environment that will cycle much
slower.  The easiest way to do this is to surround your object with a
lot of cellulosic "stuff".Several boxes, cotton wool (but don't put the
wool in contact with your object), acid free tissue paper, the more
cellulosic material the better.  Also, if you make the outside box a
stable plastic tight lidded box that will be another barrier for
humidity fluctuations.  This technique won't of course work for entire
collections but if you've only got one object it might be a viable
alternative. See

    Piechota, Dennis 1978 "Storage containerization: archaeological
        textile collections," Journal of the American Institute for
        Conservation 18(1):10-18.

for a description of the effectiveness of a cellulosic container around
your object to protect it from temp/humidity fluctuations.

Good luck.

Jessie Johnson
Texas Memorial Museum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:58
                Distributed: Thursday, February 10, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-58-001
Received on Friday, 4 February, 1994

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