During my curatorial traineeship I attended and blogged about my experience learning different techniques on a feather conservation course. The course was taught by conservator Allyson Rae and was informative and exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I was itching to try out some of the techniques I had learnt on some of the damaged taxidermy in the Manchester Museum Zoology stores.
It’s occured to me that I never posted about the results of my efforts. I worked on three toucans that had been soiled by industrial soot (a common problem in older museum collections up North as a legacy of the city’s industrial heritage.)
The technique I used was a combination of feather reshaping, dry cleaning and wet cleaning. The tail of one of the specimens was not only quite damaged, but a sticky white substance was making the feathers clump together. I used a product called groomstick to slowly ease off the white substance, then carefully wrapped the tail in dampened tissue and left it overnight.
The same specimen was filthy around its yellow breast feathers, so I set to work using a wet technique to clean them. Using a combination of IMS and water, I gentled dabbed and brushed the feathers while protecting the skin underneath with a layer of card. Eventually the soot was drawn out. Here are the results, which I’m rather pleased with!