Preserving leather

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Preserving leather

Postby museumtom on Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:03 am

What do you do to prevent the white mold forming on leather items that are stored away? This is something I have noticed since I moved out of Dublin, it does not seem to happen there for some reason.
All suggestions are most welcome.
Kind regards.
Tom.
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Re: Preserving leather

Postby the_power on Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:21 am

There are a few reasons you get white spots - its not likely to be mould. Some is that when leather is damp, it wicks the tanning salts out of itself, leaving the leather harder & brittle. Neatsfoot oil (made from boiling the shin bones of calves) is a wonderful leather restorer, and the oil will stop the leather taking on water and so wicking out. Applying to the leather which is already wicking salts might rub some of the salt back in, and will certainly make it a lot better to look at. That said, neatsfoot can damage linen thread (never noticed it myself, mind). I use Ko-cao-line on my leathers, and it's *wonderful*. It's also great for waterproofing swords kept in scabbards, as it feels like a red waxy grease that rubs off on the leather.
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Re: Preserving leather

Postby museumtom on Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:52 pm

Thanks for the pointers and advice.
Kind regards.
Tom.
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Re: Preserving leather

Postby Irish-American on Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:24 pm

A tar coating often helps.
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Re: Preserving leather

Postby museumtom on Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:45 pm

Thank you all.
I take into consideration what you all say. I even managed to get some neatsfoot oil and the Ko-cao-line locally which surprised the 'eck out of me. The tar I will leave to the more medeval types for their hides. I also slipped down to the Cashel Folk Village which run by a mate. It is a folk type of museum/site with each room a different theme. Anyway I asked Martin what he used on his leather items and he said nothing. I took down a pair of boots that have hung on his museum ceiling for the past 20 years and they were grand. My problem seems to be that I put the leather items away in a sealed ammo box which cut off the air and that looks like it irritated the leather. I also think that the white powder is not a mold but something coming out of the leather. After is if finished coming out I expect everything will be ok, as long as I dont store them in a place where air cannot circulate.
Many thanks for all the suggestions and advice.
Kind regards.
Tom.
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Re: Preserving leather

Postby finnobreanan on Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:40 pm

the_power wrote:There are a few reasons you get white spots - its not likely to be mould. Some is that when leather is damp, it wicks the tanning salts out of itself, leaving the leather harder & brittle. Neatsfoot oil (made from boiling the shin bones of calves) is a wonderful leather restorer, and the oil will stop the leather taking on water and so wicking out. Applying to the leather which is already wicking salts might rub some of the salt back in, and will certainly make it a lot better to look at. That said, neatsfoot can damage linen thread (never noticed it myself, mind). I use Ko-cao-line on my leathers, and it's *wonderful*. It's also great for waterproofing swords kept in scabbards, as it feels like a red waxy grease that rubs off on the leather.


As a trained museum curator, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one John. although Neatsfoot Oil appears to work wonders at first, it will in fact cause long term damage. Chemicals that are used in this product will actually destroy the threads that hold the leather pieces together. Leather rots from poor storage and environmental conditions. Keep it it a cool, moderately dry location for storage to avoid mold. Mink Oil and Pecard will help with preservation, but use them sparingly.
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Re: Preserving leather

Postby the_power on Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:39 pm

I think you agreed with me pretty violently, actually - I did say neatsfoot oil damages linen. The items that I have for 10 years or so haven't rotted yet. Museum curators want something to last longer than 10 years though.
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