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Subject: Storing Byzantine glass

Storing Byzantine glass

From: Stephen Koob <koobsp>
Date: Monday, April 7, 2003
In (Conservation DistList Instance: 16:56 Monday, March 31, 2003)
Wendy Jessup inquired as to recommendations for the packing,
movement and storage of fragile Byzantine glass fragments.

Here at the Corning Museum of Glass, we have numerous such
fragmentary types of collections, from Egyptian, Syrian and Roman,
right through Byzantine. We have thousands of fragments that are
stored in drawer units.  The units were originally designed as map
cabinets and are called "MAYLINE C-Files". All of the drawers have
been lined with 1/4 inch Volara (closed cell polyethylene foam),
which has been attached to the drawer bottom by double-faced tape.
All the side edges of the interiors of the drawers are lined as
well. Most of these units are 4-drawer, so they are not unduly heavy
and can be easily transported.  They can also be stacked, and in
permanent storage they are stacked to a height of four feet.

Sturdy glass fragments, without flaking surfaces or fragile
weathering, are bagged in an appropriately sized polyethylene
zip-lock bag. Polyethylene "breathes" so there should be no danger
in long-term storage. Larger fragments and partial vessels are
housed in deeper drawers, simply resting on the ethafoam, where they
find a "nest" by pressing lightly in the foam.  For movement, we
transfer the entire drawer, covered with tissue paper and then soft

Very fragile and flaking glass can be dealt with on a case-by-case
basis. Some glasses may require hand-carried transport in a lined
box, with nothing around them. Fragments that are somewhat less
fragile can be isolated in a small archival box, again lined with
ethafoam, or you can create your own divided boxes to fit
irregularly-sized fragments.  For transport, the fragments can be
kept in place with padded tissue paper on top, or the fragments can
be individually wrapped, loosely in tissue paper. I have seen
numerous "flaking and severely weathered" glasses transported very
safely around the world, initially wrapped in tissue paper, with no
loss whatsoever.  In some cases I have made cavity cut-outs in
ethafoam that are then wrapped and contoured with tissue paper, so
that the fragment rests in its own custom-made storage. If the
cut-outs and boxes are an appropriate size, very little extra space
is used.  I would recommend that you avoid Gore-Tex, cotton or
natural fabrics in almost all cases, as the fabric or fabric-like
nature is likely to cause more damage.

Glass should be transported either boxed in crates, or in
drawer-type units, resting on and covered with moving blankets. The
trucks should be air-ride, and climate-controlled.  Ideally, glass
should only be transported when the relative humidity is between
40-55%, and the temperature between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  The
humidity is more critical than the temperature, and these are the
parameters that we also recommend for long-term storage.  If the
climate falls outside this range, unpacking should not occur for at
least 24 hours, in order to allow the glass to acclimatize.

Stephen Koob
The Corning Museum of Glass
One Museum Way
Corning, NY 14830
Fax: 607-974-84709

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:59
                   Distributed: Monday, April 7, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-59-003
Received on Monday, 7 April, 2003

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