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Tusk Stabilization

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This is a tusk I recovered from a river sand bar in Iowa 24 hours ago.  The tusk was in somewhat damp sand.  It started to degrade right away once it was unearthed.  I wrapped the tusk in a towel but it did dry out a bit.  I got it home about 5 hours later and re-wrapped it in damp towels.


I am writing this post to spell out my plan based only on reading some other posts but not based on any experience.  I would appreciate any advise.  What am I missing or doing wrong?


-Add many zip ties to hold tusk together.  Leave crusted-on sand for now.

-Wrap with damp towels and wrap that with plastic trash bags, NOT completely airtight.

-Store in dry basement for several months to gradually dry out.

-After drying period, carefully clean and "baste" with paraloid b-72 50:1

-Use more concentrated paraloid b-72 to glue loose parts.  Lots of small crumbled pieces to deal with somehow.

-Cure for several days and then fill voids with PaleoSculp (or equal) a little bit at a time.

-Sand and buff

-Make a stand and show off!


Thank you for looking!







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The common stabilizers /consolidants dont like being used on damp fossils.  There are consolidants specifically for damp items.  I would be worried that before it could dry enough to use paraloid, it would crumble beyond repair.  You might consider keeping it wrapped and damp until you can get something made for this situation.  Make sure you get enough to make a bath to soak it in.  


the problem with paraloid, is that the instant it hits the damp fossil its going to congeal (to see what I mean, pour water into a jar with a tiny bit of paraloid and watch it.  It will do the same thing on a damp fossil. besides being ugly, it wouldnt be able to penetrate to actually stabilize the inside and out.

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I would use hose clamps rather than zip ties as they are stronger and easier to remove, but that's just me. The process of wrapping in damp towels then in trash bags will allow it to dry slowly. Slow is definitely your friend.


Once it is completely dry, you can consolidate with Paraloid before you remove the river sands. A bit of acetone will loosen them. I would not use a plaster jacket unless you plan to leave it in the jacket seeing how fragile it looks in the picture. If you had jacketed it right away in the field, the degradation wouldn't have had a chance to start. Since it has, my concern would be damage to the already degraded parts while taking the jacket off. If you go the jacket route, I would suggest a 1/2 jacket in order to facilitate a safer removal later.

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