The last thing I cleaned at the Abbey is something I’ve been looking at for a while because it’s so pretty. Then I was lucky enough not only to clean it, but to clean it with cotton buds. Yeah, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but it’s also something I’ve been wanting to try and then I got to do both and at the same time!!
The other day I cleaned these lamps in the shape of the heads of Perseus and Medusa.
It was quite nice getting to clean these; I’m always looking at them when I walk by so it was great getting up close to see the artistic details. I like making art myself, so I try to learn techniques by studying the pieces around me.
The way these were cleaned was the same way most pieces are dusted – top to bottom, and with brushes. You work going down because that’s the direction the dust will fall. But because these hadn’t been done in a while, I first went over them with a museum vacuum cleaner, which is smaller and more maneuverable, and comes with a brush attachment end. Then, for the details, I went over again with a boar-hair brush set aside for stone work. The very back was difficult to reach so I used a standard duster for cobwebs and stuck it back there. Good as new!
It’s a good system to have separate brushes for different materials, because a brush can pick up dirt, oils, chemicals and splinters, which could damage the next surface the brush is used for. You also need to be aware of the hair of the brush – is it stiff bristles or soft, this can affect the material too. Using different animal hair gives you different qualities, and generally is better to use than synthetic bristles – these can snap off and getting caught in the objects, which may harm them.