Last week we cataloged and photographed the parasols and umbrellas in our collection. We learned how umbrellas and parasols differed from the late 1800's up through the 1950's. For example, a majority of our parasols date from in the late 1800's and early 1900's because they grew out of fashion in the 1920's when tanned skin became the style. Parasols are meant to keep the sun off of the skin. They were popular at the time because pale skin signified wealth. This information was important for cataloging, but we also needed to learn how to properly store them.
First, we packed the inside of the umbrellas with acid free tissue paper because it isn't good for the metal to rest on the handle and other sections of the umbrella. After wrapping the inside, we protected the outside fabric with tissue paper as well. Then, we tied the tissue in place. This helped contain the fabric, and stopped the umbrellas from touching each other. When packing any item, we don't want them to graze the other objects because that can deteriorate the other artifacts in the box.
Once the umbrellas were wrapped, we needed to carve ethafoam to prevent the umbrellas from resting on themselves, which would cause damage. Ethafoam is similar to Styrofoam, but it is more dense and less acidic. We traced the umbrellas, and then carved out the exact shape form them to rest in. This is so they don't move around in the box.
This is how we packed and stored the umbrellas and parasols, so they will be protected for future use.