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Subject: Water damage to furniture

Water damage to furniture

From: Arlen Heginbotham <aheginbotham>
Date: Friday, December 27, 2002
Jillian Adams <jillianadams [at] ci__lowell__ma__us> writes

>Our museum uses some of its museum space as function space.
>Unfortunately, we've had a recent accident with one of our quality
>pieces. A guest left a sweating glass on our side buffet. Does
>anyone know of ways to work magic (short of incantations) to remove
>the white "stain"? (I do realize that it isn't a stain, but moisture
>trapped under the finish.) Our inventory lists this piece in the
>following manner: "Carved mahogany and veneer Empire Sideboard with
>rope-twisted front, candle stands on ends. The rectangular top, 71
>1/2 by 24 inches, (brasses replaced). American, c. 1840".

In my experience, it does sometimes happen that a white ring caused
by a wet glass is caused by water damage to a heavy wax layer above
the finish itself.  If this is the case, then a bit of odorless
mineral spirits on a soft cotton rag may help you.  The finish can
be rewaxed after treatment.  Admittedly, this is not *often* the
total nature of the problem, but it may be worth a try.  If the
finish itself is damaged by the water, the finish may also be able
to be made transparent again by exposing it to solvent vapors,
without actually abrading the surface or adding new finish.  The
finish should be clean first, the choice of solvent or solvent blend
should be made and tested carefully, and appropriate ventilation
should be provided.  This is something that should be done by
someone with considerable experience in such things, as there is
also the potential to do more damage than good.  The benefit is that
the integrity and "patina" of the surface can be preserved.  I'd
also encourage the museum to take the opportunity this incident
provides to re-evaluate how  events are organized and supervised.
I'm sure there are many variables to consider, but mishaps like this
can sometimes provide reinforcement for arguments to increase
supervision or restrict access.  An ounce of prevention... and all

Arlen Heginbotham
Assistant Conservator
Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation Department
J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687
310 440 7178
Fax: 310 440 7745

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:41
                Distributed: Wednesday, January 8, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-41-009
Received on Friday, 27 December, 2002

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