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Subject: Humidification


From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Monday, April 17, 2000
Neil Patrick O'Donnell <npo [at] acsu__buffalo__edu> writes

>The Society's collection of Native American material includes
>several pairs of moccasins that have completely dried out during
>the last century.  I have placed one pair in our home-made humidity
>chamber and after several rotations, the pair softened up quite a
>bit.  However, once out of the chamber the pair quickly harden
>again.  I would appreciate any suggestions on anything we can do to
>prevent the pair from hardening again.

I think this project needs to be thought through better.  It seems
to me that what is being preserved here is the physical and visual
(or decorative) aspects of these objects, not the feeling of walking
in them. That means that they should be preserved in the from they
were in when used, but that their flexibility is, relatively
speaking, irrelevant.  If they are distorted, then temporary
flexibility for the purpose of reshaping makes sense if it is
technically feasible without causing damage.  The automatic notion
that objects that were flexible when used should have their
flexibility "restored" to them may come from materials for which
brittleness is a sign for a chemical state that is dangerous to
preservation, e. g., paper.  The chemical and physical processes
responsible for the flexibility and brittleness in these objects is
not in this category.  Adding foreign materials that may make the
moccasins sticky, be unavoidably confused in the future with
original materials, and will produce no benefits relevant to their
(presumably) museum use is not a good idea unless there is some
other reason that it is warranted under the particular circumstances
of the current use and meaning of the objects.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:52
                  Distributed: Friday, April 21, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-52-005
Received on Monday, 17 April, 2000

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