Before we get to the delectably delightful main dish of foam donuts, allow us to introduce ourselves: Pueblo Grande Museum is the repository for archaeological collections for the City of Phoenix. That means we care for tens of thousands of prehistoric and historic objects encountered by archaeologists involved in construction projects across our great city.
In January, collections staff at the museum began a new long-term project to inventory, survey and rehouse their whole-vessel pottery collection. Prehistoric and historic pottery vessels have rounded bottoms, which means they don’t sit still on flat storage shelves.
Safety: Create pot rings (aka: foam donuts, more on that in a bit) or mounts for object that need them, assess current ones and update where necessary—helping to keep the objects safe!
Clarity: Add object numbers to the pot rings or mounts for easy identification that doesn’t require handling the object.
Inventory: As vessels are pulled for the rehousing project, collections staff will be doing a shelf-by-shelf inventory (and updating the database as needed) as well.
Mount-making Made Merry
Foam donuts are one of the simplest ways to stabilize a vessel, especially those with fragile or rounded bottoms. The donut is formed by gluing a piece of polyethylene backer rod into a donut-shape that cradles the vessel, steadying it, and also keeps the base from coming into contact with the shelving.
Foamhenge is a cleverly and aptly named mount, (thanks to one Frank Grinere, museum volunteer) that steadies a top-heavy vessel with a narrow base. Four or more wedge-shaped pieces of polyethylene foam, lined with an ultra-soft, super-dense foam padding called Volara, are glued to an acid-free base to shore up the otherwise tip-prone vessel.
Sink mounts accommodate an unusually shaped vessel. A plank of polyethylene foam is carved out to fit the vessel. The carved area where the rests is lined with Tyvek (Yes, the very same weather barrier that enshrouds modern frame housing.) or Teflon (just like plumber’s tape—only wider and a little thicker).
As of June 25, with the help of our volunteer Frank Grinere and Museum Aide Carina Samano, we completed mounts for an entire cabinet—93 historic vessels from New Mexico. Thank you so much for all your hard work Frank and Carina! As the project continues, more and more vessels will be rehoused into snuggle-fitting mounts!
If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering about the “booger tape” mentioned in the title. We use this double-sided archival tape to adhere fabric to an exhibit mount and between two pieces of acid-free archival cardboard (called blue board) to make a reinforced base for a storage mount. Super sticky, booger tape earned its nickname!