Bone beads

 Because of their delicacy, some of the beads have lost parts of
the carvings. My question is as follows: Since bone tends to dry
out and this drying out would make these beads more fragile, is
there something (oil, wax, etc.?) that I can apply to the beads
that will protect them from further dessication and preserve them? 

I wonder if PEG (poly ethylene glycol) which is used to preserve
wood might do the trick? With wood, you soak the newly cut wood in it
and it replaces the water in all the fibres with a soft plastic which
stops the wood from ‘drying out’ and distorting. Other than that,
maybe a wipe over with white beeswax would be appropriate.

Best wishes,

One of the oldest sources on the subject of carved bone/ivory is
Theophilus’ On Divers Arts, which dates to the 12th century. His
suggestion is walnut oil. I suspect that any light oil like that or
peanut oil, etc. would work; apply lightly and wipe off the excess.
On many of my own bone carvings, I’ve used a mixture of pure
neatsfoot oil and beeswax mixed to the consistency of a hard paste,
I don’t know how it will work on something old and already starting
to break down, but it works well for me. There’'s also one of the
wax concoctions like Museum/Renaissance/Butcher’s wax, which are
used for preserving exhibited items.

 Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL
 @Ron_Charlotte1 OR