Removing adhesive from horsehair basket?

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    • #133508
      Edie Wageman

      We have a miniature horsehair basket from 1989 that was glued to a mat and framed. What is the best way to go about removing the basket from the mat? I am unsure the type of adhesive that was used.

    • #133511
      Ron Kley

      I hope a conservator will chime in on this one, but I’ll offer my two-cents worth based upon what I think I know about horsehair, and adhesives.
      Most adhesives (but not epoxies)are likely to be soluble in either water or acetone, but it may take prolonged soaking to do the job. I don’t believe that acetone would damage horsehair, but a water soaking would probably cause the individual hairs to swell,a bit, and that might disrupt the typically tight weave of a horsehair basket.
      Have you considered the possibility of removing most of the mat material from the basket by mechanical means (e.g., a very carefully wielded razor blade), leaving the adhesive in place and only a very thin film of the matboard still adhering to the bottom of the basket?
      That might be the safest approach.
      Now, let’s hear what a conservator would have to say.

    • #133510
      Bronwyn Eves

      Well this one is tricky! I am a conservator and would recommend that you consult a conservator in your area if possible. The acetone would likely alter the luster of the hair and could lead to further embrittlement. A conservator’s approach might be to use a gel which would hold the solvents in suspension while the adhesive was softened to the point of being able to be gently reduced. However, the structural integrity of the horsehair and the solubility of the adhesive will ultimately guide the treatment. Good Luck!

    • #133509

      Things like this depend a lot on how much adhesive there is, and what it is! If there’s only a little shiny yellowish stuff, it is likely to be old Duco cement, which stays soluble in acetone. A tiny amount of acetone on a small swab might dissolve enough of the adhesive to take the pieces apart. On the other hand, if it’s old Elmer’s glue, it would be more difficult to get apart and to get all the residue off. If you’re far away from a conservator, consider sending a photo and getting on the phone with one, who may be able to talk you through it. I don’t recommend doing it yourself without help – these things can make a mess.
      Barbara Appelbaum

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