Saturday, September 1, 2007

Making history new

The key to engaging people in any subject is to make it relevant. But perceived relevance often equates only to things that are new, current, and visually appealing - characteristics that don't always mesh well with the passage of time and the effects of nature.

It's a typical catch-22: to be passionate about history, history has to make you passionate. Many times the compelling story is blurred by decades, or centuries, of exposure, dirt, or wear - its seeming relevance hidden behind the dull mask of age.

Just what is history?

According to our friends at Wikipedia, the word history has an interesting, um... history:
The word [history] entered the English language in 1390 with the meaning of "relation of incidents, story".

In Middle English, the meaning was "story" in general. The restriction to the meaning "record of past events" ... arises in the late 15th century. In .... most languages of the world other than English, this distinction was never made, and the same word is used to mean both "history" and "story".

Yes, very interesting... so what's the point?

Seeing through time - and grime

The point is that history is a story. Not an old and irrelevant one - but one that is worth knowing and worth telling. One that might simply be lost behind the grime.

So how do we make the story compelling once again? How does the story become new and burst with the color of life and contemporary relevance? How do the stewards and curators of the world's archives not only protect them, but provide new life to them - new life that makes the story real and vibrant?

Blasting into the past

Historical restoration is the critically necessary science behind making history new again. And as you may have guessed, dry ice blast cleaning has emerged as one of the significant tools in the arsenal of historical restoration professionals.

From the 90 year old Utah State Capitol to the 125 year old Philadelphia Museum of Art, to the 600 year old St. Thomas Monastery and 600 year old Charles Bridge in Prague, dry ice blasting is being used worldwide by preservation experts to beautify and restore their critical projects.

Dry ice blasting technologies have been used with tremendous success on a wide variety of historical restoration projects around the world. You might correctly guess a few applications, such as:

  • building, brick and stone cleaning

  • fire restoration of brick and wood

  • gum, tar, paint, graffiti removal

  • log cabin restoration

But you may not know some of the other unique applications where dry ice blast cleaning has been used where other methods simply couldn't be employed. For example:

  • Removing smoke damage from historical books

  • Would you ever let anyone blast the leather seats in your car with any type of blast media? I certainly wouldn't, unless I was looking for some new large-hole ventilation! Well, in this application, gentle dry ice blasting (sometimes called dry ice dusting) was employed and successfully removed smoke damage from the antique leather covers and bindings of historical books without damaging the books, cover, or even the gold inlay lettering on the leather. Talk about gentle and powerful at the same time. And, no chemicals to destroy the leather - and of course no cleanup.
  • Dinosaur bone removal from surrounding materials

  • In this application, dry ice blasting was used to clean the surrounding sediment away from dinosaur bones without using traditional blast material (which would have completely destroyed the bones) or traditional chemical means (also damaging/contaminating the bones and creating toxic secondary waste). Now to be honest, this application is still under testing - it works in many instances, but can still damage extremely fine or soft bone fragments. But these had no chance of being recovered by traditional methods either.
These are just a few of the creative applications of this great technology. The uses truly seem almost endless.

The Gold standard.

While money is "always" a consideration (the Philadelphia Museum of Art for example saved thousands of dollars per individual roof tile - and they have hundreds of tiles), most curators of historical items will spend whatever it takes to get the "best" results. And more and more are turning to dry ice blasting to achieve these results.

Not only does dry ice blast cleaning produce the best results, but in many situations it is the only solution that will work at all - because it's dry, it's clean, it doesn't use chemicals, it doesn't produce waste, and it doesn't damage the material - it truly makes old things new.

Even though it's not magic, it's still magical. And it makes history shine.

Okay, and on top of all that... it still saves money!

To learn more, visit Cold Jet - Historical Restoration.


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