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Subject: Dry historic wood in situ

Dry historic wood in situ

From: Silvia Manrique <silvia.manrique<-at->
Date: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The following is posted on behalf of Benjamin C. Pykles, Historic
Sites Curator, Church History Department, Brigham Young University

    We would like to know what people recommend we do to recover a
    recently uncovered archeological specimen of historic wood from
    a site in Provo, Utah.  The sample in question is a section of
    wooden baseboard from the First Provo Tabernacle that has
    recently been uncovered by archaeologists who are excavating the
    site (see:

        <URL:http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/62052/Provo-Tabernacle-Digging-up-the-past.html>

    The archaeologists would like to recover this sample intact, so
    they can record the baseboard's profile. The wood is very
    fragile so they are afraid that if they try to remove it from
    the ground it will break up and disintegrate, as the wood
    appears to be in a very rotten state. Accordingly, it remains in
    the ground until we can find a solution to the problem.

    I did some simple internet searching and came up with an
    article:

        Alvar and Butvar: The Use of Polyvinyl Acetal Resins for the
        Treatment of the Wooden Artifacts from Gordion, Turkey
        by Krysia E. Spirydowicz, Elizabeth Simpson, Robert A.
        Blanchette, Arno P. Schniewind, Mauray K. Toutloff, And Alison
        Murray

        <URL:http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/jaic/articles/jaic40-01-004.html>

    This is about the only thing I could find that deals with dry
    wood, rather than wood that has been submerged in water for a
    long period of time. Basically, the article concludes "that the
    use of a 10% w/v solution of Butvar B-98 is effective in coating
    cell walls and thus significantly improving the stability of
    severely degraded wood." As I understand it, Butvar B-98 is a
    polyvinyl butyral.

    I am hoping you might be able to either verify that this would
    be the best approach for us to take with this particular
    specimen, or whether you would recommend using a different
    method to retrieve the baseboard without damaging it.

    Benjamin C. Pykles

Posted by Silvia N. Manrique
Collections Manager/Conservator
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
410 Campus Center Drive,
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
801-585-9769


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 25:40
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Received on Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

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