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Subject: Waterlogged leather

Waterlogged leather

From: Paul Storch <paul.storch>
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2004
Susanne Grieve <susannegrieve [at] hotmail__com> writes

>Currently I am working on several leather shoes that have been
>waterlogged for about 140 years. Most of them are in very poor
>condition. My question is, does anyone have a favorite filling or
>display material that can be used as a support? What type of glue do
>you usually use on leather to piece it back together? They will
>eventually end up in a museum setting.

I have been using DOW Ethafoam 220 polyethylene foam planking cut to
fit the interior shape as a support during both freeze-drying and
for storage/display.  It usually has to be changed out after
freeze-drying as the bulking solution and particles are deposited on
it.  If the objects are to be displayed, then the exposed areas of
the foam can be covered with a cotton or polyester fabric.

The components of archaeological shoes are usually separated due to
failure of the stitching.  The heel layers separate due to complete
corrosion of the nails.  I usually hold the vamps, uppers, and
counters to the sole layers with linen tape, rather than re-sewing
or using adhesives. My reasoning is that the objects are easier to
study and analyze if the components are not permanently fixed
together.  Most of the objects that I conserve go directly into
storage, but the linen tape can be visually distracting on exhibit
objects.  If objects are required for exhibition, more complete
reconstruction could be done. I will, however, usually reconstruct
heel layers with adhesive.  I have found that both Butvar B-73 in
ethanol and Lascaux 498 EVA emulsion work well.  They are both
compatible with leather and form strong but flexible films when dry.
The choice of adhesive depends on the surface condition of the
leather after freeze-drying, flexibility, etc..

Paul S. Storch
Senior Objects Conservator
Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory (DOCL)
B-109.1, Minnesota History Center
345 Kellogg Blvd. West
St. Paul, MN  55102-1906
Fax: 651-297-2967

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:62
                  Distributed: Friday, March 26, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-62-008
Received on Thursday, 25 March, 2004

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