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Support for Hollow Objects


This system is designed to support a hollow object from the inside in an upright position. This padded support is similar to a head-shaped form.



Scott Carroll
Conservation Department
Carnegie Mus. of Nat. History
5800 Baum Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA
Tel (412) 665-2607
Fax (412) 665-2751

Dale Kronkright
2183 29th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94116 USA

Photographs: Scott Carroll and
Victor Krantz

Illustrations: Karen Ackoff after
sketches by Scott Carroll 

Publication: 1992



A post made from polyethylene plank is mounted on pH neutral cardboard. A head-shaped polyethylene bag filled with polyester batting is attached to the post by pulling down the narrow neck section of the polyethylene custom-made bag over the post (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. top, Mask positioned on padded support.
               bottom, Padded post support

Materials Tools Supplies

  • Glue gun and hot melt adhesive
  • pH neutral, corrugated paper board
  • Polyester batting
  • Polyethylene bags or polyethylene sheeting
  • Polyethylene foam plank
  • Polyethylene welder


  1. Cut a square post of polyethylene foam. A standard size that frequently fits headgear is 4in x 4in. The length of the post is determined by the height to which the artifact must be raised so that its weight rests on the post. If 4in polyethylene foam is not available, thinner sections of foam can be adhered together to form the appropriately sized post.
  2. Trim corners down the length of the square post to form an octagonal post (Fig. 2).

    Figure 2. Trim corners to form octagonal post.

  3. Cut two layers of polyethylene sheeting following the pattern indicated in figure 3. These two sections, when welded together, will form a bag that should fit snugly over the post.

    Figure 3. Form a balloonshape by welding two layers
                   of polyethylene sheeting together 
                   as illustrated above.
  4. Weld the two sheets of polyethylene together using a polyethylene welder. The welder is primarily designed for short straight welds, so the rounded head may present some problems. The best way to approach this is to make short welds tangential to the circle. The polyethylene bag will form a balloon shape when it is then turned inside out.
  5. Turn the bag inside out so that the seams are on the inside to prevent abrasion of the artifact.
  6. Fill the balloon shape with poly-ester batting material until it is 3/4 full.
  7. Insert the post into the bag and pull the bag down around the post until the post is pushed up into the batting material. The bag should fit snugly around the post so it holds the head down onto the post.
  8. Adhere the bottom of the post onto the appropriate size of pH neutral corrugated paper board to give it stability. A board with a foam core or mat board can be substituted if necessary.
  9. If the head feels wobbly, cotton twill tape can be tied around the post just below the head. This will gather the loose polyethylene bag and give more stability to the head.


For a 4in square post, the width of the polyethylene bag in its narrowest point should be approximately 8in. This size has to be arrived at through trial and error because the post size will vary depending on how the corners are trimmed down.

The final bag size will depend upon how close the seams are to the edge. It is easier to make a large bag smaller than a small bag larger, so the measurements should be generous.

After the correct width is found, it is a good idea to make a cardboard pattern, especially if many mounts are going to be made in the future.

The size of the batting-filled head of the foam support depends on the size needed for the artifact and the amount of support required. A good size for a 4in post is a head with a 10-12in diameter (Fig. 3). The size of the head must be appropriate for each artifact.

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