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Subject: Soot on fur

Soot on fur

From: Jerry Shiner <keepsafe>
Date: Thursday, December 10, 1998
Greene Loretta <lgreene [at] providence__org> writes

>I have several angel statues which have fur glued to the "skirts"
>for decoration.  The fur is lightly soiled from candle soot.  Any
>suggestions on methods to clean this?  The fur appears to be of a
>rabbit fur texture.

As some of you know, my family began cleaning fur garments
commercially in the thirties. I hope the following advice is not
redundant to the information already available.

Fur is commercially cleaned by tumbling in a drum with sawdust, or
ground corn cob.  The sawdust is dampened with a dry cleaning
solvent (perchlorethylene or mineral spirits, or some combination),
and sometimes some solvent or water-based silicone and anti-static
chemicals are added as well. As the fur tumbles in the drum, the
sawdust "scrubs" the hair without removing oils from the pelt. The
garment is then "shaken" in a drum made of screening, blown clean
with compressed air and steamed and/or ironed. (I've been told of
apprentices in Europe beating the garments with bamboo sticks in the
yard until all the sawdust was removed.)

I've heard of conservators using corn meal in local treatments: the
medium is gently worked into the fur, then brushed through and out,
and the excess corn meal is removed with compressed air and/or a
vacuum. It should be possible to clean the fur trim using a this or
a similar method. *However*, I wanted to add the caution that some
pelts are known to be weak, and will easily fall apart when handled.
Rabbit pelts (as well as cat and chinchilla) are known to be quite
weak. In addition, the glues used to adhere the fur to the statue
might have further weakened the pelt.

One solution might be to simply "steam" the fur at a fur cleaner, or
to use a dry cleaner's spotting table steam gun. This would remove
some of the surface soot, and would apply minimal stress to the
pelt. You might also consider that rabbit fur is not expensive, and
it might be easier to replace than clean. Please contact me
personally if I can be of any further help.

Jerry Shiner
Keepsafe Systems &
Forever Yours Bridal Gown Preservation
Toronto, Ontario

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:51
                Distributed: Tuesday, December 15, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-51-008
Received on Thursday, 10 December, 1998

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