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Subject: Renaissance Wax

Renaissance Wax

From: Robert J. Milevski <milevski>
Date: Monday, May 1, 1995
The following appeared in Museum-L and is reproduced here without
the knowledge or consent of the author. There was some other traffic
on this subject but this was the most interesting one to pass along.
It makes me think what we are doing to the books we use this on.  We
use it here.  I know others use it as well.  It a good post for the
DistList.  Robert

    Date: 28 Apr 95
    From: David Harvey <toptendave [at] aol__com>
    Subject: Re: Renaissance Wax, British Museum. Legit?
    To: Multiple recipients of list MUSEUM-L <MUSEUM-L [at] UNMVMA__BitNet>


    Renaissance wax is a formulated  blend of several microcrystalline
    waxes in white spirits to form a soft paste.  It has been used by
    the conservation & curatorial communities for some time now and it
    is carried in the Conservation Materials catalogue.

    I have used this wax for some years now in metals & arms
    conservation and I have been pleased with it's performance - I have
    never had  any trouble either applying or removing it.

    I have talked with one colleague, however, who has told me that she
    had experienced some trouble with this wax in terms of reversibility.
    Sometimes the use of a white spirit solvent will dissolve one
    component of the wax but leave another intact (the polyethylene wax,
    I believe) - leaving whitish streaks on the surface of the object.
    This can be removed but it takes experimentation with other
    solvents (ie., hexane) and it is a time-consuming process.  The
    conservator who related this experience to me says that her
    institution no longer uses Renaissance wax for this reason.  I have
    not read anything in the conservation literature which either
    confirms or denies this anecdotal evidence - but it has made me
    very cautious in using the wax - I only use it as a protective top
    coat to lacquered metal surfaces. The easily reversible lacquer
    isolates the wax from the surface of the object and the wax will
    come off with the lacquer upon removal.

    As is always the case, it is important to realize that the
    application of any material to an historic or artistic object's
    surface is not as straightforward as it may seem.  Every time you
    interact with the surface of an object you are creating a new layer,
    or have the potential of destroying a layer, of that object's
    material history.   This is why the conservation profession is
    becoming more conservative and less intrusive in treatment

    I would be very interested in hearing any comments, pro or con, from
    other conservators and especially conservation scientists on the use
    of Renaissance wax.


    David Harvey
    Conservator of Metals & Arms
    Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
    P.O. Box 1776
    Williamsburg, VA  23187-1776

Robert J. Milevski

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:87
                  Distributed: Wednesday, May 3, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-87-012
Received on Monday, 1 May, 1995

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