Care of Carvings
Despite their durable appearance, stone sculptures need to be handled with care. Keep the stone clean, and fully support the sculpture when moving it. Ship in humidity-controlled packing cases with sufficient protection from mechanical shock. Avoid displaying your stone sculptures in areas near a door or air vents.
One type of stone used in Inuit sculptures is argillite. It is composed largely of clay materials that have been subjected to heat and pressure to form the fine, uniform and easily workable material.
But argillite also absorbs and desorbs water from the atmosphere, resulting in dimensional changes. Water absorption and desorption are greater at higher and lower humidities, so it's best to maintain the relative humidity between 30 per cent and 50 per cent.
Though argillite isn't really sensitive to light, high light levels using incandescent, especially in enclosed display must be avoided since the increase in temperature at the surface of the material results in a decrease of relative humidity.
Water should not be used to clean argillite, but slightly damp cotton swabs can be used to remove spots of dirt. For more information about the care of argillite and other stone sculptures, contact the Canadian Conservation Institute at (613) 998-3721 or fax them at (613) 998-4721.