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Dinobot

Wooly Mammoth tusk restoration and repair preservation

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Dinobot

Hi im and amateur collector and I'm not sure if the was the right section to post this under.  I purchased this tusk a couple years ago.  The seller said he's had it since the 1970s.  Because of the large crack from top to bottom and the inside is quite powdery.  Is there and thing I can do to preserve it? Its about 6.5 feet along the curve and 120lb so I get worried when I move it.  Also I see that great patina on some tusks is that something that is added 5o make it shine or does it comes out of the ground like that? Any help would be appreciated!

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snolly50

Here is an old thread that may be useful. Your tusk I assume is already "dry" so those concerns mentioned are behind you. Consolidation is the path you should be ready to take. Check out the consolidation comments on the thread below; but also use the search feature for "consolidation", "paraloid", "butvar", "vinac." You should turn up more helpful comments. The thread below discusses a large plastic "hammock" to act as a consolidation basin. I thought that very clever. With the size of your piece you will have to employ such a vessel. An old kid's plastic wading pool comes to mind; but if you end up with acetone involved not all plastic material will be useful. Enjoy, have fun. 

 

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snolly50

Once you get that tusk stabilized, my recent post linked below relates how I achieved a nice soft sheen on a small tusk section. Your piece being so large would take considerable elbow grease. Perhaps a Dremel with a cloth buffing wheel attached would be utile.

 

 

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darrow

This is a much smaller piece than yours but the method is easily scaled for larger pieces like yours.  I submerged it in a 5% weight/volume solution of  Butvar B-98  in 99.5% isopropanol.  Using alcohol as a vehicle for the B-98 gives you a slower dry time so you have some time after removing it from the solution to get it positioned for drying before it becomes tacky.  You'll need to build some kind of fixture to support it while it dries.  

 

edit: 

 

Forgot to mention after it dries and you remove it from the drying fixture you can use a small paint brush to touch up the points where it contacted the fixture.  The solution is somewhat self-leveling in that brush marks will smooth out to a level surface before it dries.

 

I used three screws pointing up through a piece of sheetrock to create a sort of tripod of points to hold my piece for drying.  You'll need something much more substantial...  Something like a sheet of 3/4" plywood with an array of carriage bolts (the rounded head serving as contact point with the tusk) adjusted in height to the contour of your piece so the load is distribute along it's length.  You might build it to fit in your solution tank and submerge the tusk/fixture as a single unit.  The care necessary in designing and building the fixturing will depend on integrity and strength of the tusk.

 

 

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Dinobot

@snolly50, @darrow

Thanks for the input!, I read all three links and everywhere link I found on the subject lol..

 

Sorry for all the questions I am brand new to all of this :/ I really appreciate the help

 

Because this piece has been drying since the 70s I dont need to get it to slow dry with anysort of burlap sack.

 

1. There is a lot of small pieces crumbling in the crack down the middle, should I blow them out with a shop vac or something before I submerge in a alcohol solution? Also should I use a denatured alcohol to clean it, do I just wipe it with a cloth?

 

2: what is the best mix acetone or alcohol, with paraloid, b15, b72, b98 (what is the difference between the b's).  From what I read b15 is not readily available and difficult to find

 

3. How long should it be submerged in the solution for? Until the bubbles start coming to the surface or is there an approximate amount of like like a few hours or days?

 

4.at any point should I be clamping this hose clamps?

 

5.  Once its been sitting and drying on cardboard for several days, should I use apoxie sculpt to fill in the crack, is there a clear substance i can use to fill the crack that won't expand causing further cracking or breaking?

 

6. Is there one location you recommend to buy all these products, denatured alcohol, paraloid, 99% alcohol, b15 or 72 or 98, Apoxie sculpt or alternative?

 

7. Because it is winter should I be waiting for warmer weather or will it not affect the drying process?

  

 

 

 

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snolly50

If it were mine I would get it consolidated before any other action. As you wrote, your piece is "dry" after such a long exposure out of the ground/water. For that reason the slow drying wrap technique is not needed. Likewise. I believe the clamps were only employed with a "fresh" specimen that would be prone to damage as it dried. Logic dictates that such a step would not be needed for your task. I use Vinac, a brand of consolidation material. A very dilute mixture ratio of 1:50, Vinac beads to acetone is employed. I am not sure about the other, now more commonly used, products but the concept of dilute remains. Keep looking on the Forum for exact ratio suggestions. 

 

Also, your mileage may vary. I have only the limited experience linked above with fossil ivory. It is hoped a member with more direct experience will come along and respond. Alternately, if you spot a Forum post that suggests a member may have helpful knowledge/experience; message them with an inquiry. I have always found Forum members very helpful. 

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Ptychodus04

The differences in the numbers represent different plastic polymers. For fossil conservation, people use Butvar B76, Vinac B15, Paraloid B72 (all soluble in acetone), abd Butvar B98 (soluble in ethyl alcohol as noted above).

 

My preferred plastic is Paraloid B72. It is somewhat harder than the others. All are good options. 
 

I would not try a bath for such a large specimen, unless you have the ability to make a custom tank to fit the shape. I would simply paint on a 50:1 solution of Paraloid (50 parts acetone:1 part plastic measured by weight). Don’t worry about precision, close counts here. Pay special attention to soaking it into the cracks. Next, apply a thicker solution. Something in the 20:1 ratio works well to brush or pour into cracks and hold loose pieces in place. Any excess plastic can be removed with straight acetone.

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Dinobot

Great thanks! @snolly50 and @Ptychodus04

 

Ptychodus04 how many coats of 50:1 and 20:1 do you recommend and how long should I wait between applications?

 

 

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snolly50

Kris can give you a better estimate than I can in terms of how much. If you can rig a hammock container like that suggested in the content of the first link, you could just dunk it; but it is pretty big. Success with a container would depend on your resources and "engineering skills."

 

One thing I do know for sure, acetone is to be used with caution. Outdoors is best, certainly from the size of your project. I find that breathing acetone fumes gives me a headache. If I anticipate being exposed to it longer than a few minutes, I wear a gas rated respirator. Apparently, not everyone is that sensitive, but it lets me know it's to be respected.

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Ptychodus04

I tend towards the simplest options... less opportunity for Murphy to get involved with my projects. :P
 

The number of coats depends on the specimen. It would expect at least 2 applications of each. It all depends on how the ivory absorbs the solution. 
 

Acetone is not fun but if applied in a well ventilated area, you shouldn’t have any issues. I also wear a VOC fume rated respirator when using it but I have a lot more exposure to it than the typical hobbyist preparator. I don’t find it to be overly offensive as it is for John. He is a rather sensitive fellow though. :default_rofl:

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snolly50
1 minute ago, Ptychodus04 said:

John. He is a rather sensitive fellow though. :default_rofl:

Most handsome geniuses are attuned to the more aesthetic facet of their nature.

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Dinobot

Haha kk, lots of good info thanks!

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Ptychodus04
16 hours ago, snolly50 said:

Most handsome geniuses are attuned to the more aesthetic facet of their nature.

As soon as I figure out what that means, I'll respond with a crushing reply...:P

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