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Subject: Drying sand

Drying sand

From: Steven Prins <sprins1102>
Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Deborah la Camera <dlacamera [at] mfa__org> writes

>I am seeking thorough references to the historic use of sand as a
>means to quickly dry fresh writing ink. In the writing of
>manuscripts, sand was sprinkled on the wet ink of recently written
>pages and shaken off in order to speed up drying.  Presumably, if
>the ink was tacky enough, some of that sand would remain loosely
>adhered to the surface of the ink lines.  I believe that I have
>identified a late 17th  early 18th century Italian drawing on which
>sporadic crystals, akin to drying sand remain loosely adhered to the
>surface of the ink.  However, SEM/EDS analysis of those crystals
>yielded results that I was not expecting.  Rather than silica, the
>crystals proved to be a covalent potassium/calcium sulfate.

Deborah la Camera's analysis of the 'drying sand' in question
reminds me that sometimes sand is not what it appears to be.  The
mineral species she has found do occur in particulate forms similar
to and even called 'sand'.  The best example I can think of is White
Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico.  Here the so-called
sand turns out to be particulate gypsum!  I imagine that this is not
a unique occurrence.  But then this raises the question:  Does
sulfate 'sand' have better drying properties than silica sand? Could
the selection of this 'sand' have been purposeful?  Just a thought.

Steven Prins
Santa Fe, NM

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:64
                  Distributed: Thursday, April 1, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-64-003
Received on Tuesday, 30 March, 2004

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