Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm sorry, I'm kind of tied up at the moment....

Two teflon tape supports, tightly wrapped close to the spine, and loosely midway down the ribshaft.
 This afternoon while re-adhering a broken rib to the exhibited mount of Homotherium serum, I was frustrated in my attempts to hold the rib steadily in place while the Paraloid B-72 set. This is a familiar problem for preparators, often we can set a specimen in a sandbox and balance one broken bit on top of the other using gravity as a clamp. Irregularly shaped specimens, or mounted skeletons, as in this case, can create a real challenge to securely reattaching broken elements. Every time I invariably moved, the join would slip and prevent a good fit. Here, gravity was instead working against me, as it sometimes does. Watching this inelegant dance, TMM exhibit designer John Maisano went back to his shop to find a solution; string, or wire maybe, something to replace me in the equation. What he came back with, in a stroke of genius, was a roll of teflon plumbers tape.

He wrapped the tape around the rib and handed the roll to me. I promptly dropped it (gravity again!), and had no choice but to stand there with gluey rib in hand watching it unroll itself down the landform. After John rolled it back up and handed it to me again with a stern warning, I started wrapping the tape around the two halves of the facing rib, clamping them together. Wrapping around the vertebrae provided more support, and loosely wrapping the broken rib to one of its neighbors controlled droop in that plane as well. This method was superior to using adhesive tape or string, which would have been very difficult to remove had they been glued in place. It is far gentler and easier to work than wire would have been, especially considering how delicate these poorly mineralized bones are. A method that will change the way I work, for sure. Thanks, John, for the idea!
Now we just have to get those arms back on!

No comments: