Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Metal Conservation Blog – August 2008

Hello Everyone!
It’s me, Amber Davis. I haven’t written in about a year and I am sorry. I started a metal conservation project with the Virgin Islands National Park Service and have been exclusively working on my project while Ken has been working on Hassel Island with the new crop of archeological interns. My project combines my interest in archeology with my chemistry background, and I am loving it!
I researched the protocols for metal conservation last year and ordered the required equipment and chemicals. Artifacts Undergoing Treatment

This year, I have been treating the metal artifacts recovered from underwater archeological sites at the Cinnamon Bay laboratory. Among the artifacts undergoing treatment are a metal ladle used for applying tar to sails on boats and a porthole, both found at Hassel Island. I place the artifacts in a 5% bath of sodium carbonate, which leaches out the chlorides that cause metal to corrode. When the chloride levels rise in the bath, I have to make a new 5% sodium carbonate solution. The concentration of chloride rises in the bath as it leaches out of the artifact, and then every time I change the bath, the chloride concentration drops to baseline levels. Once all the chlorides have been leached out of the artifacts, then they will be dried with alcohol and treated with waxes and such to protect against further corrosion. Then, the artifacts will be properly preserved and ready for display!
My project has been very exciting for me. In fact, I applied for an art conservation internship at the Smithsonian and got it. I leave St. John in a couple days for Washington, DC and there I plan to apply for graduate programs in material science or art conservation. I want to thank the National Park immensely for the opportunity they have given me here. I have learned so much working with Ken Wild and Susanna Pershern, and I found my career interest in my metal conservation project. Also, thank you to the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park for their support, and lastly, thanks to the readers for their interest in and support of the Virgin Islands National Park.

Amber Davis


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