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Subject: Paper impregnated with beeswax

Paper impregnated with beeswax

From: Tamara Clark <tclark>
Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2001
Mary Britton Clouse <mtkages [at] aol__com> writes

>... I encouraged the clients to consider just leaving one or
>two items with the wax and removing it on the rest but the clients
>want to leave the beeswax on most of the items because of the
>important part that beeswax plays in their cultural heritage. All
>items will be sleeved in polyester and postbound. This leaves me
>with some questions:

I can certainly understand their wanting to keep the items encased.
But being a beekeeper, I can understand your worries!  As a
conservator I have never encountered such a thing, so I cannot speak
from experience.  But here are my thoughts.  Beeswax should be a
relatively "safe" environment, as it has a low pH.  It will be
necessary to monitor the temperature of their enclosure more than
usual.  The melting point of beeswax is around 140 degrees, but it
can "sweat" at temperatures much lower than that.  I'm wondering if
the polyester sleeve might case it to sweat more rapidly.  Obviously
you don't want moisture building up.  Maybe they would be better off
in a box separated with spun polyester or even a kind of waxed
paper?  If you are concerned about the dull appearance the beeswax
might give the documents, you can remedy this with a blow dryer set
to the coolest setting.  All beeswax tends to "bloom", or become
dull and take on a dusty appearance, but a little heat in a
controlled environment as described above should do the trick.

Tamara Clark
Grand Lodge of Missouri

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:5
                  Distributed: Thursday, June 21, 2001
                        Message Id: cdl-15-5-005
Received on Wednesday, 20 June, 2001

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