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Re: dry rotted suede :: maintenance



>I've even heard claims in this decade that oiling is bad for leather books.
>
>I recommend Marney's Conservation Leather Dressing, available from
>Bookbinders' Warehouse, a local bookbinders' supplier, or some fine
>bookstores (like Maggs). It's less waxy than British Museum Formula, but
>still has a little wax. I originally learned to mix 40% lanolin with 60%
>neatsfoot oil. I now prefer it with wax.
>
>Maybe it's a myth, but I believe sealing the surface with wax helps seal in
>the oil, which lubricates the cell membranes to reduce frictional abrasion,

Richard:
        This lurker enjoyed your little piece on preserving leather but it
seemed that a little more precise concept of how leather is organized might
help find a way to "consolidate".The skin surface (epidermis) of the
living cow is made of several layers of flat (squamous) cells each covered
by a very thin cell membrane and interconnected by very ,very small "tight
junctions". These cell layers are supported by a dermis composed of
fibrocytes which laydown collagen ,a long stranded protein.This substratum
contains the blood vessels and nerve fibers needed for a functioning
integument.Now,when you tan the skin as in leather making,a very rough
process with scraping,strong acids and alkalis.I doubt much of the
epidermis (containing cell membranes) survives.What you are dealing with is
stabilized collagen in leather and destabilzed collagen in powdered
leather.It seems likely that not only lateral binding is destroyed, but
also  that the collagen strands are broken into short lengths.If this is
the case (I suppose someone has studied this),conservators are unlikely to
find a way to put the together again.,
S


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