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An Investigation of Loss Compensation Materials for the Conservation of Coiled Basketry


Compensation of large losses in coiled basketry requires replacement foundation elements that are compatible with original plant fibers. This study evaluates potential materials for compensating foundation rod losses through a practical assessment of their physical, chemical, and working properties. Polycaprolactone, a thermoplastic polymer that has found an increasing number of conservation applications in the last two decades, is tested against materials more typically used for the conservation of organic artifacts. Results call into question the stability of polycaprolactone, suggesting that this material may not be suitable for use in long-term treatment applications. Rods molded using Lascaux 498 HV bulked with cellulose powder were found to have the most favorable properties for this application and were successfully used in the treatment of a coiled Apache tray in the collection of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, Autry National Center.

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