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Subject: Cake


From: Linda S. Roundhill <artsconservation<-a>
Date: Friday, April 15, 2005
Karl Gillies <karl.gillies [at] southlandmuseum__co__nz> writes

>My museum has recently acquired an artwork in the form of an
>elaborately iced cake. The core is a cooked fruitcake, but the sides
>are entirely covered with a thick layer of sugary icing which has
>set hard. The shape is of a miniature band rotunda and there are
>four "trees" also made of icing (with food colouring). There is a
>little fence (icing) around the rotunda, and this is particularly

You might want to check the DistList archives
<> as I believe
something like this has come up before.  I should think the main
thing would be protection from settling dust, sooty air and excess
moisture.  Sugar and the glycerol that is sometimes used in icing is
hygroscopic.  RH's above 50% could enhance deterioration and cause a
sticky surface.  Conversely, excessive dryness could make the icing
extremely brittle and maybe even cause detaching of elements.

Light could definitely fade the colors, so that is another factor.

There is also the obvious problem of the fruitcake.  All jokes
aside, it is still edible organic material and would definitely
encourage pests, molds, etc.  Perhaps a special display/storage case
is in order, if the museum can afford that luxury for this item.  An
anoxic environment might be a good option.

Apart from this I have nothing helpful to suggest, as I don't think
any coatings or other treatments would help and might be a big
problem later on.

Linda S. Roundhill
Art and Antiquities Conservation
18121 157th Ave NE
Woodinville, WA 98072

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:51
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 26, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-51-012
Received on Friday, 15 April, 2005

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