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Subject: Samurai Armor

Samurai Armor

From: Kasey Brewer <kbrewer>
Date: Friday, September 17, 1999
Edith McCandless < [at] nics__gov__uk> writes

>We are currently working on a project to re-house and clean several
>suits of Japanese Samurai Armour but are having some difficulty in
>tracking down specific information.  We would be grateful to hear
>comments and ideas from anyone who has treated similar objects.

I was involved in a project to re-house the Glenbow Museum's large
Samurai Armour collection about nine years ago.  I constructed
Coroplast boxes with plastic Chicago screws to secure the corners.
Mylar windows were adhered to the tops of the boxes with 3M
double-sided tape to enable viewing without opening the boxes.
Inside the boxes, the various accessories were supported by two
layers of pre-washed stretch knit cotton-polyester fabric-covered
Ethafoam, the top layer cut to the shapes of the objects.  Labels
were adhered to the exteriors of the boxes.

The large bodice pieces were suspended on a T-frame of wood, which
had been painted with latex paint at least 2 weeks earlier (more
would be recommended, but not necessarily practical).  The frame was
padded out with fabric-covered Ethafoam as well.  The bodice did not
so much hang from the horizontal member of the "T" as use it for
support.  If the bottom edge was especially fragile, cotton twill
tape was used to take some weight off by attaching it to a more
sturdy area and partially suspending from the top of the frame.
These frames were then secured to a padded and fabric-covered wooden
platform, and placed inside of a Coroplast box so as to protect the
bottom edges.  Frames were likewise made for the helmets, with
widely varying designs dependent entirely on the size, shape and
type of helmet.

All boxes and supports were then stored on open shelving which was
draped with fabric so as to keep light and dust off the pieces.

I should note that each box and support was made individually to
accommodate the specific dimensions and condition of the suit of
armour.  This is a very labour-intensive project, but essential due
to the fragility and often poor condition of the silk and lacquer
involved.  Cleaning during this project amounted to simple dusting
with gentle suction and Japanese brushes.  Even this minor dusting
was not possible on some very deteriorated pieces. Although I am no
longer working at the Glenbow, I understand that they have recently
begun a project to carry out more involved conservation treatment of
this collection.  I would suggest that you contact Heather Dumka at
the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta about your cleaning methods.
Also, an expert in the field of lacquer conservation is Marianne
Webb at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario. Best of Luck,

Kasey Brewer
Royal Saskatchewan Museum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:21
               Distributed: Thursday, September 23, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-13-21-007
Received on Friday, 17 September, 1999

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