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Support System for Dense Storage of Small Repetitious Objects


This system is suitable for housing collections of multiple, similar artifacts that are in good condition and are not fragile or friable, such as wooden ladles, arrows and bone combs.


Nancy Davis
Rochester Mus. & Science Ctr.
Box 1480
657 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14603 USA
Tel (585) 271-4320
Fax (585) 271-5935

Illustrations: Nancy Davis

Publication: 1992


The objects are housed by tying them onto a sheet of pH neutral corrugated paper board or other rigid pH neutral board. 1/4in cotton twill tape is used to tie the artifacts onto the board. This system allows very dense storage because padding of individual artifacts is not required. It provides maximum visibility of each object, decreasing the need for handling and removal of objects from the storage support for study (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Sturdy, repetitious artifacts, such as bone combs, tied to a piece of corrugated board. 
               Twill tape is used to tie the combs in position with a bow.

Materials Tools Supplies
  • 100% cotton twill tape, 1/4in
  • 100% polyester batting and 100% cotton knit fabric, pre-washed or polyethylene foam sheeting
  • Awl
  • Corrugated paper board, alkaline buffered or corrugated polyethylene board
  • Craft needle, large eye and blunt point
  • Glue gun and hot melt adhesive or polyvinyl acetate emulsion
  • Gummed, pH neutral linen tape
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife


Unpadded Board

  1. Cut the board to fit the inside measurements of a drawer, a box, or a shelf.
  2. Position the series of artifacts onto the board and mark with pencil each side of the object where twill tape will be placed to secure the objects. To prevent the artifacts from pivoting on the board, secure each one at a minimum of two points.
  3. Remove the artifacts from the board and punch the marked holes with an awl.
  4. Thread a large-eye needle with a generous length of 1/4in cotton twill tape.
  5. Thread lengths of twill tape through each support point, entering one of the holes from the top of the board and coming up through the second so that the two ends are loose on top of the board.
  6. Cut the amount required to tie the object.
  7. Tie the artifacts to the board one at a time using only the bow loop of a simple bow tie so that they can be untied easily. It is very important not to tie a full knot in the twill tape. A knot makes it very difficult to remove the artifact from the board and can lead to damage. If the artifacts are too heavy to be secured with a simple bow, this storage system should not be used. After the bow is tied, the ends should not be trimmed so short that the tape cannot be untied and retied with ease.
  8. Write the object number onto the board with a pencil or permanent marker, or onto a foil backed adhesive label.
  9. To facilitate removing the tray from the drawer or box, two handles of twill tape can be made on the sides of the board by punching holes and threading a tape loop. Stacking Trays with sides can be adapted for storing artifacts in layers within an acid-free box. (See Davis, “Trays and Boxes”, this volume).

Padded Board

Artifacts without a perfectly flat plane to rest on the board should be tied to a padded board to cushion the artifacts.

  1. Place a layer of the polyester batting on the board.
  2. Cover the batting with the knit fabric.
  3. Secure the fabric to the reverse of the board with clear hot melt glue or polyvinyl acetate emulsion.
  4. Alternatively, a layer of polyethylene foam sheeting can be attached to the top of the board with a small amount of hot melt glue at each corner.

Arrow Trays

A variation of this system is useful for the dense storage of arrows.

  1. Measure the distances between the tips and ends of the arrows, and the total height of the fletching.
  2. Cut two lengths of pH neutral corrugated double-wall board in a series of square or semi-circular cut-outs. The cut-outs should be high enough to raise the fletching off the base board (Fig. 2). Alternatively, a plank of polyethylene foam can be cut to receive the shafts.

    Figure 2. Storage board for arrows. Note that the depressions that are used to cradle shafts can be cut square 
                    or circular. The points are covered with folded board.

  3. Position the scalloped board inside the box, so that one supports the arrows just below the tip and the other board just below the fletching.
  4. Attach the scalloped boards to the base board with gummed linen tape or hot melt glue.
  5. Wrap the area of the shaft that will rest on the scallop with pH neutral tissue paper to cushion the arrow and so that it fits snugly into the scallop.
  6. Tie the arrowheads loosely to the board as described above.


To further increase the stability of the storage system, and to protect the museum staff from sharp or adulterated points, a lid can be constructed to fit over the arrow points (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. The shaft is cradled at two points. For longer shafts, at least 3 cradles should be used. The cradles are cut so 
                that the feathers do not rest on the board surface.

At present, corrugated paper board is commonly available with an alkaline reserve. Therefore objects that are alkaline sensitive, such as protein-based materials, should be separated from the alkaline buffered board with a layer of pH neutral paper or fabric.

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