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thelivingdead531

Preserving fragile shells

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thelivingdead531

Yesterday I picked up several shells from the Red Crag formation at Walton on the Naze that are incredibly fragile. What is the best way to preserve them to keep them from falling apart? I already crumbled a few while rinsing them in water, I am hoping to keep the rest intact lol. 

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WhodamanHD

There are consolidants made for this purpose (butvar, vinac, paraloid) but for an easier cheaper method, I believe white glue with water can work, more experienced preppers than I should be able to tell you how to do this.

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JohnBrewer

Drop me a pm and I'll send you some mixed up Paraloid. 

 

I wouldnt use white glue, it can discolour over time, isn't archival and I belitnot reversble. 

 

@Ptychodus04 @Malcolmt

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Ptychodus04
43 minutes ago, JohnBrewer said:

Drop me a pm and I'll send you some mixed up Paraloid. 

 

I wouldnt use white glue, it can discolour over time, isn't archival and I belitnot reversble. 

 

@Ptychodus04 @Malcolmt

 

John is spot on. White glue should only be used on specimens that can't be allowed to dry without damage. Sounds like this is not the case here.

 

Allow your shells to dry for several days (or in the oven for an hour or so in the lowest setting). Apply the Paraloid that John will send you with a small brush. It will dry very quickly and will harden the shells well.

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JohnBrewer

@Ptychodus04 for this particular problem can you advise the ratio of Paraloid/acetone so I can mix up for @thelivingdead531

 

thanks

 

J

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Ptychodus04
4 hours ago, JohnBrewer said:

@Ptychodus04 for this particular problem can you advise the ratio of Paraloid/acetone so I can mix up for @thelivingdead531

 

thanks

 

J

 

I would use my standard 1 part Paraloid to 50 parts acetone. This will penetrate deeply to stabilize the shells as much as possible. Application could be brushing or soaking but that depends on how much you send. :D

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JohnBrewer

Thanks Kris!

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thelivingdead531

Thanks to @JohnBrewer I have had my first experience with Paraloid today to help with my fragile fossil shell situation. I brushed on the Paraloid, rather than dip it. I'm overall pleased with the results, though a few darker shells showed a milky film to them, which I assume was excess Paraloid. I gently scrapped the excess with a scribe-like tool and buffed it with a toothbrush, which seemed to clear it up. Here are a few pictures of the shells after. The first picture shows all that were brushed with Paraloid. The second photo is all that I collected the same day that I decided to keep. The bivalves in the right most column were not treated with Paraloid.

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This little guy is one of my favorites because he's just so tiny. :)

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JohnBrewer

If you're getting a white film it's probably because there is moisture in the shell or its humid there :)

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thelivingdead531

The shells have been drying for almost two weeks now, though I don't know how long it really takes lol. The ones that noticeably clouded were very small ones. We've been having a lot of rain and storms in our area this week so maybe that's the cause? Is there a recommended method to help prevent this in the future?

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LeNico

Hi all, came across this thread and need some guidance

 

I have loads of small irredescent shells, 1" diameter and smaller. They naturally have little holes in the middle through erosion from the sea and thus are quite thin and fragile. I want to coat them in something that will harden and protect them. I'e thought maybe clear nail polish or perhaps shellac. I've never heard of Paraloid prior to this. Any idea if either of the other two things would work? Or must I search out paraloid? Thanks!

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Fossildude19
8 minutes ago, LeNico said:

Hi all, came across this thread and need some guidance

 

I have loads of small irredescent shells, 1" diameter and smaller. They naturally have little holes in the middle through erosion from the sea and thus are quite thin and fragile. I want to coat them in something that will harden and protect them. I'e thought maybe clear nail polish or perhaps shellac. I've never heard of Paraloid prior to this. Any idea if either of the other two things would work? Or must I search out paraloid? Thanks!

 

Welcome to the Forum.  :) 

Shellac can yellow, over time, so I wouldn't use that. Not sure about the nail polish, :unsure: 

You could experiment with a few of the shells.  

I think I would go with the paraloid.

Regards,

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RJB

  Hey @thelivingdead531, if those shells come from saltwater, you may want to soak them in fresh water and change the water a time or two.  As john said, there also my be moisture in the shells.  I dont know your humidity where you live, but things with glue will turn white with moisture.  If there is salt in those shells you wont know it for a few months?  but salt is not good.  I wish you the very best luck.

 

RB

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thelivingdead531

Thank you @RJB. I usually just rinse my shells off to remove excess sand and matrix, but I've ruined quite a few because they weren't stable.  How long do you propose to soak them in fresh water before applying a fixative? Some of the shells are incredibly fragile as it is. 

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RJB

 @thelivingdead531, i used to soak my shells that i knew had salt in them for a night, then refresh the water and do it again for 2 more times.  i hope this helps.   Mind you, the shells i was 'desalting' were not fragile, so you will have to determine for yourself what you can to with that.  Also, the shells i was working on was also with some matrix and the matrix had a lot more salt than the actual shell material.  But I can tell you this,,, the ones i didnt clean with the fresh water  and still prepped out, the glue slowly but surly fell apart and turned white.  Not a good thing.  i wish you the very best of luck

 

RB

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thelivingdead531

@RJB Some of my more robust shells haven't been treated with Paraloid, but haven't been soaked in the several months since their discovery. Should I soak them now, or is it too late? Now that I know of the process, I'll be sure to remember this for the future. Thank you! 

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RJB

Hey @thelivingdead531, I would say its too late, but at the same time I have no idea as to what salt content you may have in those shells. You may be perfectly fine.  

 

RB

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thelivingdead531

Well darn. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they'll be fine. Thanks for all of the info! 

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LeNico

Thanks @Fossildude19. Where does one get Paraloid? Are there different kinds? I've googled it but getting scary Dow Chemicals search results. Any details very appreciated. I believe these shells are prob from inner oyster shells just eroded down to tiny size. They're gorgeous. There's definitely not anything living inside, would you suggest something other than cleaning with soap and water?

 

Thanks again.

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Fossildude19
14 minutes ago, LeNico said:

Thanks @Fossildude19. Where does one get Paraloid? Are there different kinds? I've googled it but getting scary Dow Chemicals search results. Any details very appreciated. I believe these shells are prob from inner oyster shells just eroded down to tiny size. They're gorgeous. There's definitely not anything living inside, would you suggest something other than cleaning with soap and water?

 

Thanks again.

 

Try from HERE;) 

 

You should have a look at Harry Pristis' About Me page. 

It's an excellent resource on consolidants.  :) 

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jpc
1 hour ago, Fossildude19 said:

 

Try from HERE;) 

 

You should have a look at Harry Pristis' About Me page. 

It's an excellent resource on consolidants.  :) 

Tim's  link is to PVA, which is not paraloid, but does the same thing.  

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LeNico

Thank you both, @jpc and @Fossildude19. Lots of interesting info! Pardon my novice-status but ultimately what I want to do is just harden the shell so that it doesn't crack or crumble, with something clear that doesn't distort the color. Is 'consolidating' the right term for that? 

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Fossildude19
57 minutes ago, LeNico said:

Thank you both, @jpc and @Fossildude19. Lots of interesting info! Pardon my novice-status but ultimately what I want to do is just harden the shell so that it doesn't crack or crumble, with something clear that doesn't distort the color. Is 'consolidating' the right term for that? 

Yes it is. :) 

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LeNico

Hi folks. Thanks to all your fantastic guidance, I got some Paraloid, mixed it and dipped my shells in it. What I noticed tho is that they’re not as shiny now, some of the sheen has become matte-like. Does has anyone experienced this? See attached photo, tho its not really a great representation -  the shells on the bottom were dipped in Paraloid earlier today, the ones on the top are untreated. Part of what I love about these shells, and why I want to use them for this project is due to their pearlized quality, which is somewhat diminished now. Any ideas?

image.jpg

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Harry Pristis
5 hours ago, LeNico said:

Hi folks. Thanks to all your fantastic guidance, I got some Paraloid, mixed it and dipped my shells in it. What I noticed tho is that they’re not as shiny now, some of the sheen has become matte-like. Does has anyone experienced this? See attached photo, tho its not really a great representation -  the shells on the bottom were dipped in Paraloid earlier today, the ones on the top are untreated. Part of what I love about these shells, and why I want to use them for this project is due to their pearlized quality, which is somewhat diminished now. Any ideas?

 

 

 

Well, the pearlescent shells in the first image have been beach-polished (?) down to the nacre.  Not so with most of the shells (the consolidated ones) in the second image.  If you want the pearlescent effect for your project, just select for the beach-polished examples.  Paraloid should not make a significant difference in the pearlescence.

 

 

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