Volume 17, Number 2 .... May 1995

Technical Exchange

by Dean Yoder, Column Editor

Earthquake Damage Prevention Netting System

Museums of the Pacific Rim face the particular problem of earthquakes, which can cause damage by shaking artifacts from shelves. At the Bowers Museum the method used to prevent this is a nylon netting system with a separate net for each shelf, so that artifacts on a certain shelf can be utilized without making artifacts on any other shelf vulnerable. A standard size or set of sizes allows for more cost-effective production of labor. Most objects in the Bowers Museum's permanent collection of approx. 72,000 items, for example can be accommodated on a 2 ft. x 4 ft. shelf with a 12 inch opening.

The net must be secured to the shelf and easy to open. At the Bowers Museum this has been accomplished using 3/8-in. tapping screws at the bottom of the net and a simple fastener attached with the same 3/8 screw along the top (Note: You must pre-drill holes for screws in steel shelves). The nets must be about 2 inches larger than the opening in order to have enough room for these attachments. Stretching the net slightly takes up slack which might otherwise allow objects to slip out. The nets should be overlaped in vertical columns to conserve materials.

Your local hardware store can supply the appropriate materials for installation. You can purchase the netting and fasteners from a company called West Coast Netting (see below). The materials incorporated in their netting are nylon and a laminate made with a vinyl film on a 100% polyester base scrim. Please note that it is important to communicate clearly and specifically such details as the exact placement of fasteners, and the exact dimensions you require if you decide to use this system.

West Coast Netting
5075 Flightline Drive
Kingman, AZ 86401
(800) 854-5741
Contact: Dan Kirkland

Tim Campbell
Collections Manager
The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art

Low Tech Paper Pulp Paste: An old material revisited

My recent work with ethnographic objects involved a wide range of repairs: Creating large fills for raw hide straps on a large drum; gap filling on a Boli made from mud, grain and other organic matter; creating replacement parts for a societal emblem, a large flat basket covered with animal skulls and soot. The material I used in each repair was an old friend - paper pulp paste made with Japanese tissue or filter paper and methyl cellulose. This low tech and often forgotten material is exceptional.

For the raw hide, areas of loss were first spanned with Japanese tissue paper adhered to the reverse side of the original raw hide. Tinted paper pulp was then placed on the Japanese tissue support until the desired thickness, color, and texture was achieved. When the repair was finished it appeared to have the same density, color, and texture as the adjacent raw hide. The same success was found when treating the Boli and emblem. In the case of the Boli, bits of pulp were hand rolled and colored to resemble seeds and then added to the paste. The losses to the basket of the societal emblem were made with Japanese tissue paper straps, tinted and covered with wads of pulp tinted black to resemble the thick sooty surface of the object.

Pulp paste is a light weight fibrous repair material that can be easily adjusted to match the appearance of the original object. The only drawback is that the paste shrinks, requiring multiple applications. However, multiple applications can provide the depth of color and texture that a repair often needs. Further, the apparent similarity in density between the paste and the original fabrication materials will hopefully provide less stress or strain when responding to the environment.

The use of Japanese tissue paper is wide spread in conservation. Recently, this material was the focus of the Objects Group's session on gap-filling at the AIC meeting in Nashville. Post prints from the meeting are currently being prepared.

Shelly Reisman Paine
Objects Conservator

Multiwax W-445 Lends a Helping Hand

Trying to hold a broken finger onto the hand of a statue just long enough for an adhesive to set can be maddening. At times, the break surfaces are too small or unevenly matched to allow the use of tape, rubberbands, or clamps. Multiwax W-445 can be used to hold awkward pieces together. Once the adhesive has been applied and the pieces positioned, a thick blob of wax is pressed against the firmly held join. This method is great for use on glass, glazed ceramics, and other surfaces not affected by wax or solvents. After the adhesive has set, it is simple to remove the wax blobs.

Beverly N. Perkins
Objects Conservator

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