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The conservation team have been busy treating key objects from the collection for the upcoming Amazon Exhibition. Nikki has been working on an example of South American basketry.

This basket from Venezuela needed cleaning and repair to make it strong enough for display. Before starting conservation cleaning I needed to investigate the source of the surface ‘dirt’ and dust, to make sure it was not from original use. The aim of cleaning is to reveal the decorative detail of the basket without removing valuable evidence, a delicate balance.

  • Basket Conservation, The missing section of the cane surround
    The missing section of the cane surround

I cleaned the basket using cotton swabs covered in a slightly tacky conservation adhesive, which lifted the dust and dirt without damaging plant fibres underneath. Cleaning using water was not an option, as I didn’t want to cause swelling of the fibres, and further stress.  

I then chose an adhesive to reattach the detached sections of cane, and used clamps to hold the cane in place while the glue dried.

  • Basket Conservation, Clamps were used to provide support while the adhesive cured.
    Clamps were used to provide support while the adhesive cured.

I also used a combination of adhesive and microballoon filler to bridge gaps along the cane surround. I painted the fills to make them less noticeable, but they can still be seen on close inspection.

  • Basket Conservation, The basket after conservation
    The basket after conservation