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AlaskaNick

Mammoth tusk stabilization and restoration

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AlaskaNick

Hi everyone- I have a juvenile mammoth tusk that I would like to learn how to stabilize and restore. The problem is I have (almost) no idea how to even start! The tusk is fully dried out, but it’s split down the middle. I need some advice! Here’s what I know has to be done: 

1. Clean the outside and inside as much as possible without using water- any suggestions on what to use?

2. Superglue the two pieces together and use hose clamps to hold the two

pieces together- any suggestions on glue/method?

3. Fill gaps/cracks with epoxy- any suggestions on a good type?

4. Sand sand sand! 

5. Beyond this point I’m not sure- is there some sort of protective varnish people use? 

 

I’m sure I’m missing about a dozen crucial steps here- I have literally never tried anything like this before, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. I posted some photos of the tusk, and I will post photos of progress! Thanks everyone. 

A948C4FC-F45B-4642-A59B-77FDE74C968A.jpeg

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Ptychodus04

You can use denatured alcohol to loosen the matrix without causing the problems associated with water and tusks.

 

After you glue and let sit for at least 48 hours clamped, I would suggest Apoxie Sculpt as the filler. You can get a variety of colors to mix for a close match to the tusk. It can be worked like natural clay befor it sets so you can actually wet it and smooth it out so theoretically no sanding is needed.

 

You can coat the whole thing with McGean B15, paraloid, or Butvar to stabilize. Mix 1 part plastic with 50 parts acetone for a very thin solution and brush on. Or, mix up enough to submerge the tusk and consolidate after cleaning but prior to gluing by submerging and allowing it to sit in solution until no bubbles come out.

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AlaskaNick

This is great advice, thank you! Do you have any suggestions on a glue to use? 

8D98CF8E-D9B0-4D3B-A0D7-E55610FF81D7.jpeg

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Ptychodus04

You can use whatever of the 3 acceptable consolation materials you opt for as a glue. I mix my glue in a 10:1 ratio. This makes for a great bond if you use the soak method of consolidation due to the fact that your glue is the same material as your consolidant.

 

You have to leave it clamped longer to dry (at least a week) but the trade off in time is a much stronger bond.

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AlaskaNick

Thanks again for your time- this is honestly completely new to me so I’m going to use some layman terminology here- how does this sound:

1. Clean with denatured alcohol- I’m guessing it doesn’t have to be spotlessly cleaned, but all the large particulates

2. Using PVA B-15 1:10 solution (acetone), glue the two sides together, clamp hose clamps. Let dry a few days to a week. Will this ‘glue’ expand and fill small voids within the tusk? 

3. Use apoxie sculpt to fill remaining cracks and voids and to smooth out surface imperfections.

4. Use PVA B-15 1:50 solution to coat the entire tusk. Does this leave a shiny and smooth finish?

 

again, I’m sure I’m missing some important stuff, just want to try and get it right! Most of the other restored mammoth tusks I have seen are beautifully shiny and smooth- would a ‘buffing’ step be done in between steps 3 and 4 or after 4? 

 

Thabks again for sharing your knowledge!

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Ptychodus04

Here’s what I would do.

 

1. Clean with denatured alcohol getting as much dirt off as humanly possible.

2. Mix a big batch of 50:1 B15 and soak each half separately. Allow to dry for several days on a piece of cardboard in a WELL VENTILATED room. The pieces will have a satin sheen from the plastic.

3. Take some of the leftover 50:1 solution and add dry B15 to thicken, this will take several days. You know it is ready when it has the consistency of honey.

4. Spread a relatively thick layer into one side of the break.

5. Clamp for about a week.

6. Mix up Apoxie Sculpt abd fill cracks, finishing to a smooth texture.

7. Paint on a bit of B15 if the AS isn’t glossy enough.

8. If you want a more natural look, you can wipe the whole thing with a lint free towel soaked in acetone to remove the plastic on the surface without destabilizing the specimen.

 

Or, you can save yourself the headache and send it to me to repair. :P

 

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Peat Burns
1 hour ago, Ptychodus04 said:

Here’s what I would do.

 

1. Clean with denatured alcohol getting as much dirt off as humanly possible.

2. Mix a big batch of 50:1 B15 and soak each half separately. Allow to dry for several days on a piece of cardboard in a WELL VENTILATED room. The pieces will have a satin sheen from the plastic.

3. Take some of the leftover 50:1 solution and add dry B15 to thicken, this will take several days. You know it is ready when it has the consistency of honey.

4. Spread a relatively thick layer into one side of the break.

5. Clamp for about a week.

6. Mix up Apoxie Sculpt abd fill cracks, finishing to a smooth texture.

7. Paint on a bit of B15 if the AS isn’t glossy enough.

8. If you want a more natural look, you can wipe the whole thing with a lint free towel soaked in acetone to remove the plastic on the surface without destabilizing the specimen.

 

Or, you can save yourself the headache and send it to me to repair. :P

 

I agree.  Soaking rather than coating is a much better method for these.

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