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Subject: Stone sculpture

Stone sculpture

From: Ebenezer Nsiah Kotei <kotei>
Date: Friday, October 2, 1998
Dear [Ms. Appelbaum] and fellow conservators, thank you for all the
messages and advise on the above subject within the past few days.
[Ms. Appelbaum], your last mail was very useful and informative to
me. You have contributed tremendously to the discussions on this
List and, as we all know, to our field, and I am sure we will
forever continue to benefit from your tremendous experience and
pieces of advise.

I do agree that impregnation tests performed on sample pieces, no
matter how closely the material matches the actual object to be
treated, will never be a substitute for the real thing, especially
if we are talking about a large, bulky object like stone sculpture.
And since we do not want to take core samples from the actual object
it is not easy do a proper study of this all-important subject. The
stone buildings conservation and restoration field seems to offer
some hope in this regard because not all stone buildings are
necessarily historic, and indeed, many stone buildings are being
cleaned and treated by people who are not in the field of cultural
object conservation.

I have been considering methods that will make it possible to
impregnate and consolidate outdoor sculpture under vacuum in the
outdoor environment (if impregnation is extremely necessary). Other
methods will involve "raining" the impregnant on the sculpture for
several hours from a cycling tank/pump mechanism. It is assumed in
this case that the prolonged and continuous soaking will enhance
penetration. But once again it is not possible to ascertain the
success of the treatment.

I have always believed that the presence of salts in the sculpture
or in the ground it stands on, will be one of the several factors
determining whether any kind of surface sealing should be attempted.
It is not impossible to move the sculpture indoors and desalt it but
it is expensive and dangerous. What use is desalting without
desalting the ground it it sits on? A whole book can be written on
this issue--the finance, the benefits of carrying out certain
expensive treatments, etc. etc.

My sculpture sits in the shades of several big trees which make it
impossible for it to dry out, thereby aggravating its problems. For
now, I have advised the clients that whether we do something to the
object or not, and while we are still considering what to do that
will make both conservator and client happy, they should go ahead
and clear trees from the surroundings. This will also eliminate the
chances of a dry tree limb falling on the object and destroying it.
Thank you for your input,

Ebenezer Kotei

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:34
                 Distributed: Saturday, October 3, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-34-002
Received on Friday, 2 October, 1998

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