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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
January 18, 2011


I have a stained, dirty piece of ivory. Can I clean it with toothpaste, a tooth brush and a little warm water? Ivory is basically teeth anyway!

-Pam in Mechanicsville, Virginia


Hi Pam, I have to tell you that when I read your question, I could understand why you would think toothpaste would be an obvious choice to clean ivory with. However, at the same time, I grimaced, knowing that our Ivory Expert would scold me. So I posed your question to Wire-Sculpture Faculty member Mary W. Bailey who responded:

"Oh goodness, what a supposition. First of all, toothpaste has an abrasive in it…so don’t use it. A soft toothbrush would be fine to start with, but do not use water, since ivory and water are a bad combination. I would use some glycerin and work it gently to clean off the surface dirt. The glycerin will also help put oil back into the surface and loosen deeper dirt. Keep working the glycerin into the ivory and wipe it off between cleanings with a soft rag. I realize this is a general answer, since I don’t know what the item is: a bead, a carving, a tusk, or other ivory piece."

For more tips on Ivory, click our Ivory and Pearls blog category.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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