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Subject: Cleaning and degreasing animal head mounts

Cleaning and degreasing animal head mounts

From: Fiona Graham <fiona_graham>
Date: Friday, February 17, 1995
Jim Fielding asked for information concerning cleaning materials and
techniques for dust, smoke and grease covered fur and feathers.  Sarah
Spafford and I published a paper in Vol.1 of the Preprints of the 1993
ICOM-CC (International Council of Museums - Conservation Committee)
conference on the subject of soot removal from a natural history
collection.  The title is "Fire Recovery at the Saskatchewan Museum of
Natural History: Part II, Post-Disaster Cleanup and Soot Removal.

We investigated a number of cleaning materials, both dry and wet.  The
most useful ones for soot/dust removal included vacuuming with a crevice
tool or a specially designed "wand", using a dry felted cleaning wipe
(Webril brand) wrapped around a paint-brush handle as a giant swab,
using an owl wing in a gentle brushing motion barely touching the
feathers, gently wiping with Groomstick mouldable eraser (only on
specimens in good condition), and rubbing very fine gauge glass beads
into short-haired specimens and vacuuming it out.

We tried a number of wet cleaners, including two commercial preparations
(The Eliminator and Seabrite).  The results of our cleaning tests are
documented in the ICOM-CC paper and are too lengthy to summarize here.
Generally speaking, however, we found that wet cleaning was necessary on
the longer-haired specimens but less effective elsewhere.  Many of the
mixtures we tested tended to strip the fur or feathers of any remaining
natural oils.  The commercial preparations did this too, but then left a
residue on the fur to simulate a healthy sheen.

If you would like a copy of the paper or if you would to discuss the
details of the techniques, please call me at 613-991-1693.

Fiona Graham

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:65
                 Distributed: Sunday, February 19, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-65-004
Received on Friday, 17 February, 1995

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