IN THE PITT RIVERS MUSEUM
|Conservation: The Care of Baskets|
|Most baskets were
originally made as a container to withstand rough and everyday use. The
materials used for making the basket, as well as its later treatment, will
dictate how well a basket survives.
|Old baskets should
never be lifted by the handle or rim. These areas may well have become brittle
and weak. It is always better to use both hands to lift the basket, while
trying to support it at the base.
|The Canadian Conservation
Institute points out that in a museum context:
'It should be noted that what appears as 'dirt', may in fact be evidence of the basket's previous use. These deposits (seeds, berry stains, etc) are very important and should not be removed".
If a basket is very dusty, it can be cleaned by using a soft brush to lift the dust into a gauze-covered vacuum nozzle. The dust is thus removed without being re-deposited elsewhere. Loose fibres or applied decorations should not be disturbed when using this method.
If stains need to be removed, first test a less obvious area with a slightly
damp cotton wool bud to see how the material reacts. If you are satisfied
with the result proceed on the stain, but do not expect to always get
a good result. Stains are often very stubborn and it may be better to
treat the stain as part of the history of the object.
a basket has become misshapen but not broken, it can be sealed in a large,
clear, polythene bag alongside moistened tissue in a bowl. The humidity
in the bag will rise and be absorbed by the basket. After a day or two it
should be possible to very gently re-shape the basket and fill it with tissue
paper as support. The basket should be dried out slowly by placing it back
in the polythene bag without the water and leaving one end partially open
to allow the basket to slowly return to the ambient conditions. This can
take up to a week. Do not leave the basket in conditions of high humidity
without checking regularly, as mould spores may begin to form and cause
or unusual shaped ones should be well supported. They can be lightly filled
with tissue paper to maintain the shape.
The climatic conditions in which baskets are kept should not be damp
(for the reasons mentioned above), nor should they be kept too dry as
this will cause embrittlement. If the conditions fluctuate rapidly, the
baskets will expand and contract, which weakens the fibres.
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Current Impression: 21-apr-2004