Monday, 22 October 2012

Treating Mouldy Objects - Brushing - October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012

Sadly, two of the hats were in very bad shape with a lot of mould visible.  After careful consideration, advice, and discussion it was decided to deaccession them and concentrate on saving the rest of the objects.  These were from the second world war and would have been very difficult to clean.  Some of the reasons why they were removed is: 

1) there are already examples of these within the museum's collection,
2) it is especially difficult to remove large concentrations of mould without damage to the object,
3) the mould has already caused damage,
4) fur on the hat at the bottom is difficult to clean.  

Below is a photograph of these showing their complex nature and the heavy concentration of mould.

Hats deaccessioned (thrown away) due to mould damage

The objects to be treated consist of the following:
  1. Kentville Police Chief's hat circa 1950-1960's
  2. Kings Canadian Hussars dress cap circa 1900
  3. Junior Officer's service cap circa 1972
  4. Kings Canadian Hussars wool service cap 1904 - 1939
  5. Royal Canadian Navy sailor's cap 1941 -1945
  6. Swagger Stick 1950
  7. Black leather gloves circa 1920's   
The first step in treating mouldy objects is to put them into direct sunlight preferrably on a windy day.  The sunlight will help to kill the mould spores while the wind will help to dislodge and carry away the loose mould spores.  The second step is to brush the objects with a small paint brush that has medium soft bristles to help dislodge the mould spores.  Mould spores naturally occur in our environment and are normally all around us so all we are doing is removing concentrations of them on these objects.  It is the concentration of it that cause harm to the objects especially fragile textiles.  In the photograph below this hat and the long leather gloves were the only objects that had visible concentrations of mould spores but we treated all of the objects stored together with them.

Conservation Tips: 1) Do not put silk objects or any part of an object that is silk into direct sunlight.  Sunlight and many other sources of light has a cumulative effect on silk and will accelerate its breakdown over time. 2) As shown in the photograph below wear a mask, gloves (latex or rubber), and do not put objects anywhere near air vents or open windows into a building.  3) Clean all objects in any group stored together where one or more show evidence of mould spores.

All the objects were carefully hung up on a line in sunlight for the whole time that the museum was open and were brushed a second time later in the day.  The line with objects had to be moved along to follow the sun due to shade produced by trees.  Here is a photograph of the objects being hung up with clothes pins.

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