• “Hope” is the thing with feathers: how useful are cyclomethicones when cleaning taxidermy?

      Allington-Jones, L (NatSCA, 2020-10-01)
      Silicone solvents have extreme hydrophobicity so they can be used as a temporary barrier to aqueous cleaning solutions. They are characterised as having low odour, moderately low toxicity, low polarity and surface tension. They are 100% volatile so will leave no trace behind. Silicone solvents could potentially be used to flood the skin of taxidermy specimens, to provide a barrier whilst fur or feathers are cleaned, and even permit the use of heat treatments without causing damage to the skin. They will not cause drying or swelling and will not dissolve or mobilise any skin components such as dyes or fats, which would normally be adversely affected by water or other solvents. They are also, in theory, safe to use on skin which has suffered so much deterioration that the shrinkage temperature is close to room temperature. Different classes of silicone solvents have different working times and this article explores 3 of these, and their practical applicability when cleaning taxidermy.