Good Guardianship of Your Ivory Will Ensure its Long Life!
Ivory homecare,cleaning antique ivory,take care of ivory
Ivory is taken from a living body; it is but natural that it will not
stay in the same condition always. Ivory gets more brittle with age; hence,
it has to be looked after with extreme care.
Here are some precautions to be borne in mind; and ensure that your visitors
are aware of them too.
(1) Not only does this material go brittle, it also yellows with age
as well as darkness. If you observe carefully when you handle ivory objects,
the parts exposed to light are lighter hued than those surfaces that have
only encountered darkness.
(2) Sulphur is another enemy of ivory, destroying its natural color and
giving it an orangish or yellowish hue. So, when storing your antiques,
ensure that they are kept at a distance from building materials, keratin-based
objects such as tortoiseshell, paints, different kinds of adhesives, rubber,
(3) Then again, mold and mildew flourish in environments presenting a
relative humidity of more than 70%. You do not want etches and black spots
dotting the surfaces of your precious objects.
(4) The above-mentioned feature plays a very important role if your ivory
items have to be transported to another place. If climates and temperatures
change without warning (say, dry to humid or vice-versa), your ivory is
in danger. Maybe, courier services can give you some advice on what to
(5) Basements, attics, cold windows, and external walls are a big no-no
where storage or display of ivory objects is concerned—because of the
(6) This stuff is so sensitive that excessive heat from your hands can
also cause harm! What of photo lights, lamps, direct sunlight or a direct
heat source then? The damage is faster if the veneer is quite thin such
as the key of the piano.
(7) In the case that you want some repair work to be carried out, do
not attempt anything yourself; let a trained conservator take care of
Now, even antiques need cleaning from time to time. Be extremely, extremely
gentle with your ivory! No methods involving water or liquids are to be
adopted; only dry cleaning will do. Here is what you do—
(1) Wear well-fitting white cotton gloves as you wish to avoid any stains
or oil marks getting onto the objects that are being cleaned. These affordable
gloves are readily available at photography shops and drug stores.
(2) Dirt can be brushed off with the aid of a soft and clean paint brush.
Start at the center and move towards the edges.
(3) Small patches can be cleaned with the aid of a white vinyl eraser.
This ungrated tool ensures that too much pressure is not applied over
(4) If a zester is used to grate this white vinyl eraser, you will have
powdered eraser. Do avoid pink-colored or other-colored erasers for they
contain sulphur, colorants, etc. which act like contaminants. With the
aid of the soft brush or your glove-covered fingertips, gently apply the
grated eraser on the ivory objects. Once that is done, brush away the
eraser flakes in a gentle manner.
(5) A natural rubber product, Groomstik is sticky. Your local museum
will provide you with one. Take a small piece and roll it gently across
the surface of the object. It will get rid of all the dirt. Of course,
take utmost care that you do not pull off loose or small pieces of the
object itself. Original pigments or patinas, or surface coats are not
to be removed.
Of course, if you do not have much confidence in your abilities, get
hold of an experienced conservator.
Okay, the cleaning is done—do you want to store it now?
To absorb impurities such as sulphur, you could utilize unbleached cotton
to make a small bag. Fill it up with activated charcoal that is used for
fish tank filters. Sew the bag closed. This bag is your charcoal scavenger!
The best places to house your ivory antiques are closed containers of
the Tupperware brand or polyethylene bags like Ziplock. But first, wrap
them up in acid-free tissue or cotton. Ensure that the storage containers
are moisture-free, rust-free, and colorfast.
Now, go to sleep without any worries!