Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Foamy, foamy, foam!

When I went to graduate school for a degree in museology, I learned things I never expected. Like about foam. You know how foam on, say, those headphones from 1987 crumbles right off and is gross and disgusting. That foam is what will call unstable foam.

Appropriate foams for museum purposes are pretty stable. That is, they don't break down as much over time. In fact, we use things that aren't supposed to break down at all, or very very slowly. When materials break down, they release gases which we usually don't notice because they usually don't affect us. But if you put a very fragile old object on materials that break down (like that gross old foam), the gases and acids given off by unstable material can cause the object it's touching to discolor or grow weaker.

My original point was meant to be this: My supply orders are beginning to roll in, and I have some foam!

That's 6 planks of 2" think ethafoam. Useful stuff. Also in the picture are nitrile gloves and an acid free box. But there's more!

Let's see, that's more nitrile gloves, acid-free lignin-free file folders and paper, cotton tying tape, and some good old aluminum foil. Aluminum foil? What's that for?

Well, remember what I said about foam decaying and giving off gases? Wood does that too. A lot of our current storage space is made up of pressed board wood shelves, which is wood plus nasty chemicals. Currently, most shelves have a layer of paper on them on which the objects sit, but it's possible that those gases and unpleasant things released by the wood could migrate right through the paper. So I plan to lay a layer of aluminum foil between the paper and the shelf. Aluminum foil makes a barrier that the gases can't penetrate, at least not so easily. That's the story on aluminum foil!

I'm still waiting on two rolls of 1/8" thick ethafoam, and a roll of acidfree, unbuffered tissue paper. What's unbuffered? Let's save that for another day. And maybe another day I can tell you all about the kinds of foam I know. :D

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