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GUIDE FOR FINE ART & ANTIQUES
This guide to the care & maintenance of
fine art & antiques has been specially
prepared as a courtesy to Conservation & Design International
Care & Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is the best way to
preserve the integrity of any valued possession.
Through awareness of the points in which a piece is at its most
vulnerable, a collector may
take the proactive steps necessary to protect their valued collection.
Our plan will review the
and cleaning of an antique or art
object, and present the issues
that a collector must consider to ensure the longevity of their
Assess the Stability of
the Piece to Be Moved
The first point in safe handling of an old or valuable piece is
to make sure it is stable enough
to be moved. Fragile and loose pieces or areas will need to either
be secured or avoided.
Depending on a piece’s value or type of instability, there
may be work to be done before
moving in order to insure its safety. You may need a specialist
to assess the instability
or stabilize the problem areas first.
Check all furnishings for loose or broken arms, legs, detached moldings,
or any part at risk of detaching or becoming unstable—any
potential hazard to the stability
of the piece during a move.
Check finishes for lifting or loose pieces and areas. This is especially
hand-painted, gilded, and any finish with a gesso ground.
Check pieces of sculpture or exposed areas of extended decoration
for loose or broken
Check all ceramics and serving ware for broken arms or handles.
Check all parts that are supposed to detach or slide out. On furniture,
drawers, doors, slide-out surfaces, shelves, etc. On ceramics &
serving ware, this includes
lids & interior pieces. All of these moving pieces need additional
consideration & planning to
be secured or removed before moving.
Check any layers for areas of delamination. This is especially true
for veneers or other
types of inlay. Problem areas need to be secured or avoided.
Dry Run Your Route and Method
Before you pick up an old or valuable piece, make sure you know
how you are going handle
it, what your route will be while moving the piece, & where
you are going to place it.
Decide where and how you are going to place your hands in picking
up the piece to avoid all fragile areas.
Decide whether you will need gloves. All objects or finishes that
will be damaged by the
oils on your fingers (or by the cleaning required to remove the
fingerprints) should be handled
with gloves. Sliver, ceramics, and high-gloss finishes are in this
category. Extremely heavy
slippery pieces should not be handled with gloves.
Remove all loose objects that are not part of the piece. Remove
all objects from the top
of tables, all heavy or sharp objects from inside of drawers, pillows
from furniture, etc.
Make sure your entire route is free of obstacles and sufficiently
wide for your piece.
Do not pick up a valuable piece and then find yourself caught in
a bind or corner.
Moving of the Piece
Always pick up and carry a piece by holding and supporting it underneath
its center of
gravity. For a chair, this means holding it underneath the seat
rails, not by the arms or back.
A table should not be picked up by the top but by the lowest part
of the frame possible.
A figure sculpture should not be picked up by the arms or head but
by the base with a hand
farther up to steady it. A painting should not be picked up by the
top of the frame or any part
of the canvas or stretchers, but rather with one hand underneath
the bottom frame stretcher,
with the other hand on one of the side frame stretchers.
If you pick up a piece and you cannot see where you are going, a
second person will be
needed either to help carry or to direct.
When carrying a valuable piece, if possible, keep your hands to
the outside, using your
knuckles to buffer any possible collisions, rather than risk damaging
the edges of the piece.
If you are transporting a piece in a moving vehicle, make sure the
piece can withstand
the vibrations. Tables with thin legs or pieces that are top-heavy
may need to be turned
upside-down or sideways.
If your old or valuable possession needs to be moved outside of
your house or building, it will
usually need to be protected by wrapping or crating. Crating of
antique objects should be done
by experienced specialists. Objects that should be crated are extremely
pieces, very top-heavy pieces, many types of sculpture (especially
stone), paintings, works
on paper, framed objects, most things with glass or mirrors, etc.
Crating is probably not necessary for most antique objects.
Proper wrapping with the correct
materials is usually sufficient. It must be remembered that what
is proper for new furniture
and objects is often extremely bad or problematic for antiques.
While cloth pads are proper for new furniture, they should not be
used directly on old
pieces unless you are absolutely positive there are no loose or
lifting structural pieces or
finishes. If a cloth pad is put over loose or lifting veneer, gesso,
or many other types of
finishes, the pad can catch on edges and tear off crucial parts
of your piece.
Antique objects with fragile surfaces need to be covered first with
plastic before additional
wrapping. Furniture bags may be obtained from upholstery shops or
Bernacki & Associates.
Cheap trash bags of poor quality should be avoided as they can let
off gas fumes that may
damage fragile finishes and materials. Antique objects should never
be sealed airtight in
plastic or stored for any substantial length of time in plastic.
Fragile pieces that may suffer losses in transportation should be
wrapped in a bag with
the open end at the top so any detached pieces will be caught in
the bag. Detached pieces
of veneer or gesso can possibly be reattached, thus avoiding expensive
infills and loss of
Many elements, such as carved or raised decoration, cannot take
the weight of a moving
pad and will break off or crack. Many mirror and picture frames
have wood, gesso,
or composition extensions that are very fragile. Figure sculptures
with extended arms, hands,
fingers, or legs often present a problem. Antique furniture often
has carved wood extensions
that can snap, crack, or loosen under the pressure of a cloth pad.
Extremely fragile pieces need to be protected by foam wrap or bubble
wrap, if possible.
Some pieces are so lightweight & fragile that they cannot even
take the pressure of
bubble-wrap or foam and have to be carried by hand with minimum
Shrink-wrap should always be used around fragile finishes instead
of adhesive tape.
Shrink-wrap will only stick to itself and will not damage fragile
pieces or finishes if the packing
slips. Adhesive tape should never be used around lifting finishes
and never on gilded objects,
as it will pull off large sections of surface finish. Shrink-wrap
may also be used to build up
additional layers of protection on corners and edges.
If paintings are not crated, they need to be protected by cardboard
with an open space
separating the canvas and the cardboard. Plastic or foam can also
be used between the
cardboard and canvas, but never use a cloth pad directly over a
painting because the pad
can sag against to canvas and cause deformation.
All loose pieces such as doors, drawers, swing-out legs, flip-top
tables, roll-top tables,
drop-down writing surfaces or secretaries, need to be secured prior
to or throughout the
wrapping process. Shrink-wrap is very good for this.
The second important consideration for maintaining an antique object
is the environment it is kept or placed in. While moving an object
opens the door to immediate damage, a piece’s environment
can cause gradual and long-term catastrophic damage. Often this
long-term damage is larger, more systemic to the entire piece, and
more difficult to treat because it is usually not so localized.
There are four main factors in the environmental envelope surrounding
an antique object: light exposure, temperature and humidity fluctuations,
air pollution or air-born particulates, and pests.
Light is a form of energy that will break down all organic materials.
Light, both natural and
artificial, causes emulative and irreversible damage to finishes,
wood, color, textiles, etc.
Since the effect is cumulative, a long exposure at low levels is
equal to a short exposure
at high levels. Because most antique objects are made of organic
materials that already have
been exposed to years of exposure, you must control and limit the
future exposure in order
to maintain a pieces integrity and longevity.
Light comes in three types:
Ultraviolet - UV
light is the most energetic & ultimately the most destructive
to your antique
objects. UV light has the shortest wavelength and is found in the
invisible lower part of the
spectrum below blue. It does nothing to help in your viewing of
an object. Some ways to limit
UV exposure are:
Filters – These can be placed at the source of the
light, on windows or lights, or in front or around the object –
through filtered glass or plastic sheets.
Painted Surfaces – These surfaces, especially
when painted white, absorb a lot of UV
light. Reflected (diffused) light can also be very good for illuminating
glossy surfaces and other
difficult to light objects.
Use Lights With Low UV – Incandescent lights
give off the lowest amount of UV,
halogen and florescent give off a much higher amount, and natural
light contains the most.
The ideal situation for very sensitive objects is incandescent lighting
with UV filters and no
direct natural light.
Infrared Light –
Infrared is contained within the invisible part of the spectrum
Infrared light has the longest wavelength and while less damaging
than UV, it can cause heat
build up that can lead to deterioration. Sunlight has the most infrared,
and florescent the least. Since temperature build up is the biggest
problem with infrared,
the best way to minimize damage is to avoid direct sunlight whenever
possible and make
sure artificial lights are far enough away from objects. A common
problem is lights that attach
directly to the frames of paintings. Another possible problem area
is having lights contained
within an enclosed space such as a display case. This may also lead
to extreme dryness.
Visible Light –
Visible light makes up the middle of the spectrum. It is potentially
damaging on the lower end of the spectrum nearer blue where it is
of shorter, more energetic,
wavelength. Sunlight and full spectrum florescent light is more
damaging than incandescent.
UV filtered natural light can still be more damaging than incandescent.
Always remember that
the effects are cumulative – so you must reduce the overall
exposure. Some ways to help
protect against damage from visible light are:
Make sure the most sensitive pieces and finishes receive the least
amount of direct light
as possible. Paper, textiles, baskets, and wax will be more susceptible
than oil paint and
wood, which will be more affected than most ceramics, metals, or
Monitor the light exposure in your environment throughout the day,
as well as with the
changing seasons and weather. A certain placement may receive direct
exposure for only
a short period per day or season, therefore, you may only need to
make sure a blind or drape
is pulled during this time.
Use reflected or diffused light whenever possible in your placement
or lighting designs.
Move or rotate antique objects when possible. If you have an identical
set of objects,
such as chairs, do not keep them in the same positions and combinations.
If an object does
not have a specific front or back, rotate it so that one surface
does not receive the majority
of the exposure. Since it is inevitable that antique objects will
change through light exposure,
try to spread that exposure over different pieces in your collection
and over different surfaces
on an object.
Temperature & Humidity Fluctuations
While light can be extremely damaging - especially to color, tonalities,
and finishes – the most
structurally damaging environmental elements are extreme fluctuations
in the temperature and
humidity. When controlling the environment for an antique object,
you must consider
temperature and humidity separately and, most importantly, in combination.
Temperature – Temperature extremes and
fluctuations alone can cause damage and deterioration to antique
objects. High temperature can accelerate chemical changes in chemically
unstable materials such as photographs and paper. Temperature alone
can cause expansion and contraction in many materials that can lead
to layers delaminating and joints loosening. But while temperature
alone can cause problems, it is in combination with humidity that
leads to the most serious deterioration.
Humidity/Relative Humidity – While
the moisture in the air is the most damaging
environmental element to your antique object, it is impossible to
approach humidity without
combining it with the temperature. To understand this,
we must define some terms:
Humidity is the amount
of water vapor in the air.
is the actual amount of humidity in the air independent of the
Relative Humidity (RH)
is the percentage of water vapor in the air compared to what air
can hold at 100 percent (full saturation) at a given temperature.
Warmer air can hold more
This means you don’t need to have an increase
in the amount of moisture in an environment
to cause problems with moisture sensitive materials. A drop in temperature
will cause the air
to be able to hold less moisture. If there is an excess of moisture
in the air when that
temperature drops – that moisture will have to go somewhere.
It may be inside of a frame
onto (or into) a work on paper, or it may be into the wood or other
porous materials of furniture
and art objects.
Since most organic materials have the ability to absorb moisture
– if the environment is going
through fluctuations of hot and cold – those organic materials
will expand and contract as
they accept and lose moisture. Because most furniture and art objects
are not made of
a single lump of one material, you will have differing rates of
expansion and contraction in
different parts. This can cause joints to loosen, wood to warp,
veneers and boulle work to pop
up and off; can detach paint, finishes, and gesso on canvas and
gilded objects; and cause
tarnishing and rusting on metals. These fluctuations can occur daily,
and with changing weather patterns.
Another major problem with relative humidity and antique objects
is that there is no perfect
level, different materials have different reactions. An ivory handled
steel knife is a frequently
mentioned example as the ivory starts to dry out and possibly crack
at below 50% RH,
while the steel may start to rust at levels over 50% RH.
High RH (over 70%) can accelerate rusting, tarnishing,
bronze disease, and chemical
deterioration. It can increase the potential potency of air pollution,
the extent of warping,
and the development of mold and other biological problems.
Low RH (below 30%) causes shrinkage and increased
brittleness, making objects more
fragile. The biggest problems develop when there are drastic and
quick changes from one
extreme to the other. Ideally an environment will be kept in the
45% to 55% (RH),
while avoiding extremes above 70% or below 30%. Perhaps the most
important aspect is
to make sure any fluctuations are gradual, allowing objects to adapt
rather than fail.
Some suggestions for minimizing
the effects of relative humidity:
Monitor the Environment – This may be as
simple as one gauge or as complex as
a system of monitors that not only measure and chart daily and hourly
variations, but are
located in different rooms and even different areas of the same
Evaluate Heat & Humidity Sources – Radiators, fireplaces,
and heat ducts will create
their own little mini-environments that can be much drier and experience
humidity fluctuations than other parts of the room. Valuable objects
should either not be
placed near these sources or monitored for problems.
Evaluate Placement on Walls – Exterior walls will cool and
heat differently than interior
walls, especially in the winter. This can affect humidity and condensation
on these walls and,
consequently, paintings hung on these walls or furniture placed
against these walls.
Locations around windows can also be problematic.
Air Conditioners – Air-conditioning can help control high
humidity but you must be aware
that while air-conditioning removes moisture, it also lowers the
temperature – consequently
not always lowering the relative humidity. Air-conditioning needs
to be set so that it takes in
the least amount of humid outside air, so that the relative humidity
is actually lowered.
There are also more exotic and expensive methods such as reheat
coils, which allow you to
really cool the air, thus losing a lot of moisture, and then reheating
the air to acceptable levels.
A lot of museums do this but it is much more expensive and requires
a lot of energy.
Humidifiers & Dehumidifiers – These can be used to create
mini-environments in certain
rooms or areas of rooms that contain your most fragile objects.
Monitor Heating – In the winter, make sure you do not over
heat as temperatures should
be kept as low as possible near sensitive materials. Also try to
minimize the fluctuations
between daytime to nighttime temperatures so the changes are as
small and gradual as
Display cases – For extremely sensitive objects you can do
what you see in a lot of
museums – use display cases to create very specific mini-environments
tailored to specific
Monitoring and controlling relative humidity will never be addressed
as a one-size fits all
solution. In a challenging environment such as Chicago, with such
extreme changes in
seasons, controlling relative humidity will always be a balancing
act between attributes
and deficiencies. You should concentrate mainly on avoiding large,
sudden changes in
humidity and trying to protect your most sensitive pieces from those
Dust Particles – These problems can come from
inside or outside
a building. Specific problems and their possible solutions:
Dust – A lot of interior dust can be generated
or held by carpets and rugs. The obvious,
simple solution is regular, good housekeeping and vacuuming. Outdoor
dust can be reduced
by not allowing in as much outside air. Well-maintained air-conditioning
with proper filters
can eliminate most of this problem.
Smoke – Smoke from tobacco, fireplaces, oil-burning
heating units, and kitchens leave
deposits of very difficult to clean grime, especially on artwork.
More sensitive and valuable
pieces should not regularly be exposed to these.
Gasses or Air-born Chemicals – Outside pollution
of this sort is controlled through
limiting outside airflow. Inside, you should be aware that many
paints, floor coatings,
and other materials give off some very powerful fumes that may damage
finishes. While this type of damage is usually only to very sensitive
objects, a good rule of
thumb is if you do not want to breathe certain fumes, do not make
your valuable object sit
in them for an extended amount of time.
Pests – Your best defense against pests is
regular monitoring and keeping out as many
food sources as possible. The problem is that a lot of antique objects,
and especially works
such as ethnographic decorative arts, are made out of prime food
sources for many types
of insects. Regular monitoring will allow you to note new dead insects,
fresh holes, and small piles of deposits or powdery substances under
or on wooden objects
(this is called “frass” and is the result of something
boring in or out of wood). There are
a variety of insects that attack wood – and what a lot of
them do is bore into a piece for
the purpose of laying eggs – which then hatch – causing
new insects to bore out.
Regular assessments are needed to determine whether the holes are
new as many old
pieces will have bore holes, however, this does not mean there is
an active infestation.
If you find signs of active insects, isolate your antique object
as soon as possible from other
pieces, wrap and seal it in a plastic bag if possible. Do not use
bug sprays, as many have
strong chemicals that can damage sensitive materials and finishes.
Fumigation is the best
method, but you must be careful as all fumigators and fumigation
methods are not the same.
Many treatments will go for overkill and can cause damage to sensitive
pieces. Many of the
larger companies have one location or branch that specializes in
In exterminating rodents, traps are usually preferable to poison.
A poisoned rodent will usually
leave a carcass in the wall or hidden place that will invite insects.
When the insects are done
with the carcass, they can move on to more valuable objects.
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CLEANING AND ROUTINE MAINTENANCE
One of the best descriptions regarding dirt is that
it is a substance that is not where it is
supposed to be. So how do you determine what substances are not
supposed to be on your
antique object—and how can you safely remove that substance
while keeping the original
object assembled in as close to the original condition as possible?
The cleaning of antique objects is a huge subject involving many
and consequences. There are libraries full of books on the subject
and its many variations,
and many schools of specialists devoted to specific materials, types,
Valuable antique objects should, if possible, always be assessed
first by a specialist familiar
with that type of object.
Perhaps the first thing that should be emphasized to an owner or
maintainer of an antique
object is not to be afraid to allow it to be a little dusty or dirty.
Remember all types of cleaning,
even the most gentle, are going to involve at least some friction
and consequently, abrasion.
This abrasion, like exposure to light, is cumulative. It is better
to have a little dust rather than
inadvertently remove irreplaceable original material.
Secondly, as in handling, you must first determine if an antique
object is stable enough to
be cleaned. Before cleaning, the most important aspect to look for
is lifting layers of finish
or surface material such as paint, gesso, or veneer. Valuable objects
need to be addressed
regularly and before cleaning to make sure no new problems have
developed since the
To reiterate, a specialist ought to be consulted first if the owner
is in doubt about the condition
of a valuable antique. That having been said, here are some cleaning
methods that may be
safely employed and perhaps more importantly, some objects that
should never be treated
by the untrained.
Paintings – Never use any type of liquid
on a valuable painting unless you are a trained
conservator. At most, paintings should only be lightly dusted and
then only with a very soft
bristled brush called a gilder’s mop. Even dusting should
not be done if there is extensive
cracking on the painted surface. Avoid feather dusters as the ends
of the spines can scratch
and catch on edges.
Works on Paper – Never use any type of liquid
on a work on paper as it can very quickly
cause an irreversible stain. Paper should always be framed behind
glass/plastic using only
archival, acid-free materials. Paper should only be treated or cleaned
by a trained conservator.
Gilded Surfaces – Gilding is another extremely
sensitive surface that should only be
cleaned by a trained specialist. Gilding is so thin that there is
very little transition from being
there – to being completely gone. Gilding over gesso can be
extremely fragile as the gesso
can completely detach from the substrate, yet remain in place due
to a minimal mechanical
bond. It is very easy to detach and destroy large sections through
You can determine if the surface is stable by lightly tapping your
fingernails over the surface.
If there is a clicking sound or the surface moves, leave it alone.
If it is stable it should only be
dusted with a gilders mop.
When cleaning the glass or mirror in a gilded frame, avoid rubbing
off the gilding near the glass
by holding a piece of cardboard against the edge of the frame while
cleaning. If you look at
most old frames, all of the gilding around the glass has been cleaned
Wooden Furniture & Objects – First assess
the stability and look for loose and lifting
areas of finish or wood. The first misconception to be rid of is
that wood surfaces need to be
fed oils and oily substances. Forget this completely as this is
Most antique wood objects will either have a surface finish that
will keep these polishes from
getting to the wood, or the furniture is going to have a fragile
or deteriorated finish that can
possibly be destroyed or irreversibly compromised by many of these
grocery or hardware
The best-case scenario with these types of products is that they
will give a quick,
temporary shine that in the long run will only add a layer of dust
& dirt-catching gunk that may
be very difficult to remove. In the worst-case scenario, these products
can add materials and
solvents that can destroy or help deteriorate the original finish.
If you have deteriorated historic
finish that may be capable of being saved – or at least restored-
adding these products may
infuse impossible to remove elements that can hamper or prevent
conservation or restoration.
If your wooden object is fairly stable with no lifting surface or
veneer, the first step is to dust
the surface with a gilders mop or other soft-bristled brush, forced
air (only if surface is very
stable), or a soft cloth. You want to remove the loose dust because
it can act as an abrasive
and you do not want to drive loose dust down into the grain, cracks,
or corners while cleaning.
After all the loose dust is removed, you can lightly and softly
clean using water and mild soap.
You should use de-ionized or distilled water, not tap. Ideally,
your soap will be a non-ionic
detergent such as Triton X-100 or Oruvs Paste. Some other options
are Simple Green, Vulpex,
or at very least a gentle detergent such as Ivory Soap.
Mix a very weak solution, at least 1:50. Use a white cotton cloth
as it will show if you are
picking up something you do not want – such as color. Take
the cloth and dip it in the
solution, ring it out completely, and blot it on another dry cloth
to remove all of the excess
moisture. First test your mixture and method on one of the less
prominent surfaces to make
sure there are no adverse results.
Always wipe from the middle of a surface out over the edge so that
you will not catch the
cloth on the edge. Immediately wipe the surface dry with a dry cloth.
If there is more stubborn
grime and stains that water or detergent will not clean, the next
safest, most benign cleaning
solvents are Naptha or Mineral Spirits. The Sunny Side brand is
very good. These should be
used sparingly on only specific problem areas, not as your general
always test them first. Another possible solution is the addition
of 1-2% ammonia to water,
again, testing first in a less prominent area.
For stronger cleaning solutions, you need to know what the finish
is to avoid removing the
finish with the dirt. This should only be done by someone who knows
what they are doing.
After you have cleaned your wood surface with minimal water and
detergent, and you are sure
the surface is dry, the best general treatment is to wax it. Wax
is a protective barrier coat that
is easy to apply, neutral to almost all surfaces, and is removable
or reversible without
damaging almost all finishes.
The best general all-purpose wax is Renaissance. It is a microcrystalline
wax developed by
the British Museum that can be safely used on wood, leather, stone,
metal, etc. It will both
clean and impart a protective coating that can be buffed to a high
shine that resists
As in all waxes, do not overuse in amount or repetition. Do not
wax more than every few
months and usually once or twice a year is sufficient. If you know
a piece has been waxed
before, first buff with a cloth to see if you can bring back a shine.
If you can, there is usually
no reason to apply additional wax. Rub the wax on lightly and evenly
using a soft cotton cloth,
let it sit for a minimum of 15-20 minutes, then buff with another
If you are not sure of the finish and substrate materials you are
dealing with, this is all you
should do and all you should have to do. Beyond this, you should
have a professional do the
Brass, Bronze, and Other Metal Hardware –
Often buffing alone with a cloth is enough
on hardware as you do not want a hard bright shine on an antique
piece. If cleaning is
necessary, never do it with the hardware still attached to the furniture
as you may stain the
surrounding wood or finishes with your cleaning solution or the
materials rinsed from the
hardware itself. Remove the hardware and clean with a mixture of
ammonia in water (1:100).
Rinse with distilled water and dry immediately and completely. When
completely dry, apply
a coating of Renaissance Wax to prevent tarnishing and give a sheen.
Metal polishes should
be avoided as they may quickly remove protective coating, patina,
plating, or gilding. If a polish
is needed, Auto Sol is a good, very fine-grit polish. Use sparingly
and always test first.
Ceramics and Glass – Always dust first to
remove as much loose dirt as possible.
Most ceramics and glassware can be safely wiped or washed with water
but there are many
exceptions. Many painted or applied surface colors can be affected
by water, as well as many
porous, unfired and unstable types. Always test on an inconspicuous
If a piece can safely tolerate water, it should first be cleaned
with only a moist cloth and dried.
For more soiled and stable pieces you can submerge in water with
a very small amount of
ammonia. Problems can arise if the piece is comprised of different
materials joined together.
Be sure all of the materials can withstand water and that the adhesives
used to hold the
pieces together are not affected by water. You should line the sink
or container with a towel
or cloth and only wash one piece at a time to avoid chipping and
scratching. Do not allow the
piece to soak, drying immediately.
Ivory and Bone – Should only be dusted as
they may be permanently stained by liquids.
Silver – Should be dusted first. Silver can
be cleaned using water with a small amount
of non-ionic mild detergent and dried immediately. Ethyl alcohol
applied with cotton swabs
or a clean cotton cloth can also remove dirt and grime.
Surface tarnishing is not a sign of serious deterioration and use
should avoid the urge to use
most metal polishes and dips as they are abrasives and can remove
more than you intend,
i.e. plating, or cause other long term problems. Auto Sol is a high-grade,
of polish that should still only be used sparingly and only after
testing. A coat of Renaissance
Wax can help prevent tarnishing & fingerprints, while not adding
a hard, new-looking shine.
Stone – All stone objects should be first
dusted with a soft-bristled brush. Most stone,
especially marble, is extremely porous and liquid cleaning solutions
must be applied sparingly
as to avoid driving grime or unwanted material into the stone where
it is difficult to remove.
Alabaster, soapstone and, of course plaster, should never be cleaned
with water as it
dissolves them. Other stone can be wiped clean with a cloth moistened
with distilled water
and a non-ionic or other mild detergent. The surface should be dried
A coating of Renaissance Wax can be applied with a soft-bristled
bush and polished.
Textiles – Historic or antique textiles can
be extremely sensitive, especially the dyes,
therefore a professional should be consulted.
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