XxSeveral people have inquired as to what steps I take to care for the cookie boards in my collection. My stock answer is, "Nothing." Now doing nothing can be both a good and a bad thing, so don't take my advice literally. By nothing, I mean I don't apply anything to the boards, like oils, wood preservers, etc... That is a good thing. However, nothing also means I don't keep the boards in an environment where humidity and temperature are kept at an optimum level. Let's be honest, most collectors do not have the means to create a controlled climate in rooms where their collections may be displayed. On the contrary, some collectors even have molds displayed in their kitchens for decoration. The kitchen would be a poor choice for displaying boards, of course, due to extreme changes in temperature, humidity, and so on. So if you don't live in a house with museum-quality climate control, do the next best thing, and hang your boards away from heating and cooling sources. Don't hang molds in the kitchen, bathroom, basement, or any other place where temperature and humidity can reach extremes. Also, avoid hanging the boards in any location that receives direct sunlight. If you have the means to display your collection in a climate-controlled room, then by all means do so.

xxNow that you have read my unscientific approach to preserving the cookie and cake boards in my collection, let's see what the experts have to say on this subject. I am sending queries to various conservators, museums, and collectors, to see how they care for woodenware, and what advice they may have. I will post their comments as they are received in the section below.

Craig Deller

Deller Conservation Group, Geneva, Illinois

"The care of wooden artifacts is fairly simple. It should be stated that wood does not need to be "fed". What leads to wood drying out is it's exposure to it's environment. If the humidity levels drop too low, the wood will respond and attempt to acclimate itself with the cells shrinking and sometimes leading to the woods splitting. Oils do not stop this. In fact the oils only darken the wood which then can not be removed. A stable environment is key. Common sense will be enough.......no direct sunlight and stable temperatures and humidity levels. 65-75 degrees F and RH levels between 40-60%. I also suggest that no surface coating be applied as it will alter the visual appearance. The fatty acids that are in the wood from its use (butter, etc.) can sometimes result in "blooms" were the acids come to the surface....these can be wiped away with ethanol. Other than that....its pretty much benign neglect that saves most things."