Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Theory About Spiral Tubes

About a week ago, I passed along a link to an article on EXARC.net about the historical use of tiny bronze spiral tubes as a clothing decoration.

My husband, who reads my blog posts via Google Plus even when they are extremely esoteric, found the idea of decorating one's clothing with woven-in metal bits prone to tarnish intriguing.  "How could you possibly clean them?" he asked me.

I observed that such ornamentation was almost certainly confined to one's best clothing, which would be seldom worn and carefully stored.  But he pointed out that likely over time the rings would tarnish badly, anyway, unless they were carefully cleaned from time to time, and they certainly could not be removed to do so.

For some reason, I remarked that spiral-ornamented garments were made from wool, and that perhaps the natural lanolin in the wool helped prevent tarnishing.

That's when my husband came out with the following theory.

Perhaps the owners of such spiral-laden garments buffed them the spirals, from time-to-time, with lanolined wool fabric or fleece.  Such a coating would be much more likely to protect the tubes from tarnish, and would not damage the fabric to which they were affixed.

The beauty of this theory, to me, is that its plausibility could easily be tested.  Make a garment (or even ornament a sample piece of wool) with spiral tubes.  Brush the tubes with a lanolined cloth, and store.  Make a control garment, or sample, and store it separately, without touching the tubes with lanolin.  Check both at intervals (every 6 months, say, for a year or two), and see whether the lanolin makes a difference to the amount of tarnish on the tubes.

That sounds like a great idea for a short paper.  I should perform the experiment and write it up some time.

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