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Subject: Cake


From: Paul Storch <paul.storch<-a>
Date: Wednesday, April 20, 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
>Any suggestions regarding conservation treatment which might inhibit
>decay and extend longevity would be most welcome.

I recently treated a loaned 1880's wedding cake topper constructed
of sugar-based frosting for our wedding history exhibit.  It is in
excellent condition overall, but had some slight mechanical damage.
I re-adhered the broken parts with Paraloid B-72 in acetone.  There
is an overall yellowing to the surface coloration and some localized
darkening, but otherwise the material held up well. The museum that
owns the object created a storage box for the piece so that it is
well protected for storage and transport and allows for minimal
handling.  Limited light exposure and constant temperature (60 deg.
F) and RH (30%-35%) are optimal.

For further information on confectionery conservation, I would
suggest looking at the following articles:

    Helen Cox
    "The deterioration and conservation of chocolate from museum
    collections", Studies in Conservation, Volume 38, No. 4,
    November 1993;

    V. Daniels and G. Lohneis
    "Deterioration of sugar artifacts", Studies in Conservation,
    Volume 42, No. 1, 1997.

There were also some posts on this subject on the Cons DistList over
the past year, so you might want to check out the list archives as
well <URL:>.

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 18:51
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 26, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-51-021
Received on Wednesday, 20 April, 2005

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