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Subject: Waterlogged ivory

Waterlogged ivory

From: Jim Grant <jimgrant>
Date: Sunday, June 28, 1998
Eva Christensson <eva.christensson [at] rashm__se> writes

>I'm about to conserve a beautifully carved waterlogged ivory plaque,
>probably carved from a walrus tusk, dating to about 1100 A. D.
>...
>The main problem now is how to dry the plaque from its waterlogged
>state without any warping, cracking and flaking.

I assume from your description that your ivory plaque has been
relatively stable in it's waterlogged state--i.e.,. The object has
survived thus far because the water environment is stable enough to
support the structure of the ivory.

One approach is to keep it in a water environment, even on display.
This may be possible, but not necessarily desirable or practical.

The alternative is to make the object stable in our dry environment.
Your previous experience indicates that just drying it out is
insufficient.

I remember hearing a paper on consolidating deteriorated wood by
Schniewind & Eastman in 1994 (AIC Journal Vol.33, No.3) which may
have application to your task. It involves the introduction of a
consolidant in a vacuum. Perhaps you can add a very dilute
consolidant to the ivory as you displace the water -in the same way
that you exchanged the water for ethanol.

And wouldn't it be nice to test the process on some "scrap"
waterlogged ivory. Now there's a search topic! Seriously though,
there must be others who have more relevant experience. Good Luck.

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:7
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 2, 1998
                        Message Id: cdl-12-7-001
                                  ***
Received on Sunday, 28 June, 1998

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