From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Sunday, November 15, 1998
I have gotten several off-line responses to my query about Beva and its smell. Since I was vague about the problem, I will describe it more fully. The object is being called a Siberian bear-hunting suit, but I suspect it is more likely to be for bear bating than hunting, since I can't imagine anyone could run around the woods in it. It consists of leather pants and jacket (and an iron helmet) studded all over with 1-inch iron nails about 3/4 in. apart.
The nails are held in place by a second layer of leather lining the whole thing and quilted into place between the nails. In areas of wear and flexing, like around the ankles and the crotch, the inside layer of leather is worn through, so the nails are falling out. [Those of you who were at the AIC/APT Symposium on lighting in Williamsburg will have seen photos of the helmet.]
My thoughts about holding the nails in position are to heat-seal fabric over the inside where needed. (The stitching and the leather are too tight and stiff to use any stitching to help secure the lining.) Such a lining would have to be stiff enough to hold the hail-heads but flexible enough to conform to the uneven surfaces. PVA resin heat-seal would never hold well enough, so I thought I'd try Beva. I brushed out some PVA resin to size cotton fabric, and brushed Beva over it. Getting Beva off, in my experience, creates a sticky mess, so I wanted to use as little as possible. Obviously, reversibility with leather is a real problem as well.
Two weeks after brushing out perhaps a total of 10 inches square, I can still smell the Beva very strongly, and it does not smell like toluene or xylene, but one person thought some of the smell might be benzene, which I would not recognize. Considering how long the smell lasts, I would tend to doubt it is the solvents. I have on occasion taken backings off painting lined with Beva, and found the smell overpowering, but I don't remember if I ever had information as to whether the film or solution was used. Many thanks to those who sent me responses: you do not have to be so shy!