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Caring For Your Purchase

Unsuitable environmental conditions and improper handling most often lead damage.

Masks, plaques and other wood objects should not be placed in direct sunlight. Exposure can cause lightwoods to darken and have a bleaching effect on darks woods and paint. Decorations such as feathers, hair, bark and leather may also fade and become brittle.

Wood objects should not be stored in attics, basements or garages due to fluctuations in both temperature and humidity. As humidity increases, wood will naturally absorb moisture and expand. As humidity decreases, moisture is drawn out of the wood causing it to shrink. Continual expansion and contraction can cause cracks to develop and will ultimately damage the woods surface.

Always hold onto the mask, or other objects, by the solid woods portions and not by the decorations (i.e. cedar bark hair). If you are hanging artwork on the wall, always use a hook that is appropriate for the weight of the object. Adhesive style hooks are also not recommended.

Cleaning and Repair

The best way to avoid damaging your artwork is to clean the piece with a soft paintbrush. Do not wet the paintbrush as water can leave blotchy patches on the surface of the wood. Take great care when cleaning brittle and loosely attached decorative elements in order to avoid damage.

It is best not to apply oils or waxes to the surface of wood objects as recommended in many “how to” books. Such treatments may enhance the appearance of the piece, at least in the short term; however, over time they frequently cause discoloration and stickiness on the surface of the wood.

If your artwork requires extensive cleaning or repair, you should seek advice from a conservator.

Information collected for this article can be veiwed on the Canadian Heritage Website.

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