Recreational divers have two distinct views on what should be done
to present an artifact for display. On one side, some divers clean
and polish every brass piece they
recover. On the other side, some
preserve but don't clean their objects at all, allowing
whatever rust, barnacles or coral to vividly show to all the origin
of the artifact. (Right photo courtesy Mike Boring)
porthole from the
Cliff Wreck made into a clock and Bronze hatch from the
San Diego shipwreck,
converted into a table.
I've found that each artifact has to be looked at individually. Some
need cleaning to show the original beauty, while others need to be
preserved then left alone. Most need certain key areas to be
polished while leaving barnacles and some growth in place to give
immediate identification that the artifact has been found in the
sea. As an example of this, I recently was diving on a World War I
Navy vessel with some friends. When we all retrieved some brass
valves and brought them home, most were completely covered in a
conglomeration of rust from the steel the valves were lying on. Two
weeks later, we compared our valves. Some were left covered in rust,
which truthfully looked like a hunk of junk rather than a brass
artifact. Some were polished to a high gloss which must have taken
considerable time and effort and only resulted in looking like a
piece of brass purchased in the local hardware store. I had left one
of my valves covered in rust then chiseled away the rust that
covered the wheel. I then cleaned and polished the wheel while
leaving the rest covered or fossilized. We all agreed that this was
the best of both worlds. This method can be adapted to almost any
artifact. Say for example, that you had recovered a porthole and had
already cleaned and polished the item. Simply find a few barnacles
and glue them to the artifact in a couple of places; you'll be
amazed at how much more authentic and historic your treasure will
Photos: Ed Maliszewski converted this bronze capstan cover from the
Western World wreck into a standing lamp. Porthole from the
59th Street Wreck converted into a wall light and a WW I gunpowder
canister made into a standing lamp.
Artifact presentation goes far beyond deciding how to clean an item.
Many items can be put back into use. I have a ship's brass door
frame mounted as an entrance into my office, a porthole as a window,
another brass frame made into a coffee table, a standing lamp made
from a gunpowder canister and brass valve wheels mounted onto my
garden hose faucets. Although this is a bit extreme, it's not
uncommon for divers to use recovered china or silverware or to
electrify a cage lamp and hang it on the wall. Small portholes can
easily be made into clocks or they make beautiful picture
frames. Some artifacts can be mounted and hung from the wall, while
some should simply sit on a shelf. Still others can be used and
enjoyed every day.
Photo Shipwreck Helm from a
Bermuda shipwreck made into a gate. Photo courtesy Teddy
|Porthole side table.
Courtesy Dan Berg
||Mirror made from a
brass loading hatch
This was the first
Spanish coin I ever found. It was dug up while
detecting a beach in New Jersey. We think this and other coins
recovered in the area came from the wreck of the
Oak. My wife had it made into a ring for me. Just another
example of artifact presentation. Photo by Dan Berg.
This rectangular brass
porthole was recovered from a small cabin cruiser wreck from an area
Derelict Bay. The artifact had no historic significance at all.
Capt. Ed Slater took the little porthole and transformed it into a
beautiful display case gold rings recovered from
portholes make great photo frames. This was just a porthole swing
plate. Recovered with no glass. An artifact photo taken aboard the
Wreck Valley was enlarged to fit and plexi glass was cut to
replace the artifacts original glass. Photo by Dan Berg
Jonassen made a clock out of this small brass porthole swing plate.
Photo by Dan Berg.
Ship in a
bottle replica of the
Lizzie D wreck
built in a bottle recovered from the wreck.
|Mike Boring with
||The same window
polished and used as
a art frame. (Photos courtesy Mike Boring)
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