Leather?

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    • #132594
      Sharon F. Corey
      Participant

      What is the best collections policy for cleaning leather boots, saddles. From my research it seems that saddle soap and neatsfoot oil should not be use.

    • #132606
      Jenny Arena
      Member

      I’m hoping someone responds with more experience with this topic than I, but I did want to share that we are hosting a free, hour-long webinar on caring for leather on September 26th!

    • #132605
      Sharon F. Corey
      Participant

      Thank you for sharing that Jenny. I will definitely sign up for that webinar. I really need some advice quick so I hope others respond. The historic house I volunteer for will be working with the historic leather riding boots and saddles this coming Friday morning. I have read that Saddle Soap and Oils should not be used. BUT, what can be safely used for these artifacts if they are very dirty and dusty?

       

    • #132604
      Perky Beisel
      Member

      I’m really interested in this because my personal background is in caring for tack, lots of it that gets used hard (polo, foxhunting, hunters, eventers, dressage, etc. as well as various boots) and knowing how the leather has been processed/tanned is key to understanding what should be done – for example we don’t clean our boots the same way we clean our saddles.  Then there is my collections management training which sometimes is the same and sometimes extremely different and I’m often left scratching my head…. Looking forward to the webinar.  PB

    • #132603
      Perky Beisel
      Member

      Just to throw it out there – my personal favorites are castile soap – using very little water.  It doesn’t strip the oils but gets off the sweat and dirt and water all of which dry out tack and harness.  I have use castor oil for years to soften/protect (some of our tack have been used almost every day for 30+ years) – doesn’t rot the stitching like Neatsfoot oil (which does soften nicely) – but can darken lighter leathers, although usually not noticeably.  Once everything is up to snuff – or maintained regularly, meaning cleaned every day after use, the classic and most popular is glycerin soap, again with little water.  (PS with very few exceptions oil on riding boots).  We use this process on our collections at the museum with success as well – and inexpensive too!

    • #132602
      Sharon F. Corey
      Participant

      Thanks Perky! The information I am searching for would be for historic leather boots and saddles. These are artifacts that are no longer used and are approximately 75 years old.

    • #132601
      Claire
      Member

      Check out this CCI notes on caring and cleaning leather….
      http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/publications/notes/8-2-eng.aspx

      http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/publications/notes/8-4-eng.aspx

      Both suggest that dusting with a brush, using rubber or an eraser is a good way to remove ingrained dirt. Using saddle soap or oils will cause leathers to harden and darken over time. Give a good read to these notes they have nice overviews of the negatives of using these soaps/oils on artefacts.

    • #132600

      I am, at the moment, cleaning a number of leather items out of a saddlery display.  What I have been using is raw, unbleached sheep’s wool.  I clean the article with a damp cloth to remove any surface dirt, then rub down the leather with the sheep’s wool.  Many of these items have been left out in the elements for 20-30 years, and this method seems to be working.  I usually let the artifact sit and ‘dry’ before adding a coat of Cellugel, to help repel redrot.  I too would look forward to the webinar on leather care.  If interested I can forward some before/after photos.

    • #132599
      Nicole Roush
      Participant

      Every year during the annual “deep clean” that I conduct at my work, we clean/treat our leather items with Renaissance Wax.  This wax is very safe to use and can be purchased at Gaylord Bros.

      Good Luck!

    • #132598
      Lyn Triplett
      Member

       
      I am interested in the cleaning and treatment of leather. We have several instrumental cases that house brass instruments. The instruments are OK but the constant rain and extreme humidity this summer has caused significant mildew on the outside of the cases. What is the best treatment? 
       

    • #132597
      Sharon F. Corey
      Participant

      Thank you all for the advice and best wishes. I am also thankful for this Online Connecting to Collections Forum. It is nice to know that reliable knowledge is so easily accessible and that there are so many experts out there willing to share.

    • #132596
      Rachael Arenstein
      Participant

      I am a bit late to this thread but I want to emphasize that the care of new leather that has been maintained and older, drier, historic leather is very different.  That is why we may oil or polish our boots, shoes, and tack but generally don’t recommend the use of those products on museum collections.  Solutions like using Renaissance Wax or sheep’s wool (where you are probably rubbing the wool’s lanolin into the surface of the leather) would also not be treatments I’d recommend without seeing the condition of the leather.  Things like the CCI Notes and the National Park Service Conserve-O-Grams are conservative approaches recognizing that once substance are applied to leather they can’t be easily “removed”. So using things like the soot removal sponges where the surface is in good condition or a soft brush are treatments that are generally safe for most leather artifacts.

      Red rot is a condition where the pH of the leather becomes acidic and results in the crumbly, orange-red appearance.  Cellugel will not deter (or repel) this from happening as it is normally the result of the type of tanning process and exacerbated by poor storage conditions.

    • #132595
      Lyn Triplett
      Member

      How does this apply to vintage, leather luggage, brief cases, and purses?  Is it the same treatment?  I am speaking fo genuine leather that has not been dyed but is a “natural” color.  How do you treat mold and mildew from poor attic storage?  I really want to preserv these items.  Please respond.

       

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