Heavy, antique beadwork should be stored flat. If the objects are too large for storage, they should be rolled rather than folded. Preferably a large cylinder should be used around which the object should be rolled, when possible with the beads outward. From experience with ancient beadwork it seems that folding or even rolling should be strongly advised against. Although an artefact may seem in reasonable state of preservation when excavated, the materials deteriorate much faster when removed from their conserving and relatively stable (soil) climate. No pins or nails should be used for the display of ancient beadwork. Pins forced between the beads, resting directly on the string should especially be avoided. Storage must take place in acid free paper minimalizing the stress on the ancient binding material and possibly relieving the stress of the heavy beads on the binding.
It goes without saying that under no circumstances water be used to clean (ancient) beadwork. Change of moisture in the preservation climate will increase deterioration and must be monitored constantly. Wetting and drying should thus be prevented. Some collectors of ancient beadwork note that string sometimes may dry out (for instance after storage), scrunching up beaded netting. No plastics or repellants should be used in storage. Cleaning should only be done dry and should be kept to a minimum. The material should be left as much as possible in the state in which it has been uncovered from the soil, although it is advisable to unfold beadwork where possible. Sometimes dirt, ochre, kaolin or other matter was deliberately rubbed into the beadwork, and became an integral part of the binding. Especially for ancient beadwork, in the process of preservation, this is very important to note.
For storing beadwork acid free paper is advisable when less durable materials have been used in the production of the artefact. For some objects supports should be made for the storage of the artefacts. Gloves are essential for everybody handling ancient beadwork. For more information please check www.wearableheritage.com