The use of methyl cellulose and paper pulp as a gap-fill for wood objects

Linda S. Roundhill and Nancy Briggs

Abstract

As an experiment in the development of a compatible gap-fill for a wood object, it was found that paper pulp with a cellulose ether binding medium performed admirably as a filler for small gaps in wood objects. The procedure used was to shred a pure grade of paper, mulch it with a viscous solution of carboxymethylcellulose in distilled water and add dry powder pigments. This tinted slurry of cellulose pulp was successfully used to fill a small gap in an African mask.

Since that initial experiment, the cellulose/cellulose ether mixture was used in the stabilization of an African wood object which had suffered severe insect damage in several areas. The fills imparted strength and durability to fragile areas, secured loose fragments which previously could not be mended and had a very satisfactory appearance. The damaging effect of water on the structure of fragile wood was circumvented by the use of a water resistant sealant/consolidant (Butvar B-73) before filling.

Further experimentation is planned.