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Chemistry (including Biochemistry)/Museum preserving ladies shoes?



To preserve the original odor of ladies costume accessories for long term, a scientist recommended metallized mylar bags,heat sealed preferably after filling them with nitrogen or argon.  The mylar is very impermeable to gases, the metal will keep out the light and the argon will snuff out all bacterial life and chemistry.  This will be reasonably cheap and most likely effective.

Which equipment or supplies will I need to buy to fill with argon?  I have never done this before and I would not know how to use this equipment.  How would I use this equipment?

Thank you!

ANSWER: Hello Jeff,

What an interesting challenge!

I'm going to guess that you're interested in preserving a small number of garments at first. I must admit I have not tried this before myself, but I can offer you some ideas as a starting point.

Step 1) Clean your garment.

In my web searching I came across this page, with many helpful tips.

I liked the idea mentioned in there of lining a chest with mylar to keep out light. I didn't have a lot of luck finding mylar garment bags.

Step 2) The Big Shrink.

Next, I'd get some vacuum shrinkable garment bags. You might need to experiment with the type - I'd go for the kind you can hook up to a shop-vac. I liked these for their length but obviously go with your needs.

Step 3) Add the Argon

But what about the argon? I have two ideas for that.

A. I'd look into picking up one of these systems.

This is a wine preservation system that uses argon gas to fill the remaining volume of a wine bottle. Each cannister of argon will fill up to 3.75 liters of volume.

Alternately, since I didn't see a price on that web site for the silly things and that could mean major cash outlay:
B. Get a professional whipped cream dispenser or a NO2 cracker, and the argon refills.

Argon refills: these or similar

NO2 cracker

Whipped cream dispenser

4) Preservation!

The general idea here is to try and efficiently deliver the expensive argon into your garment bags with a minimum of leaks. Hopefully one of these adaptor solutions fits well to the bag vacuum nozzle, so you can break the seal slightly and re-inflate your bag somewhat with argon. Since argon is expensive and you'll want to store things nicely, you probably don't want to fully re-inflate the bag.

The nice thing about the wine preservation system (or the whipped cream dispenser) is that you do not need to use the whole argon cannister at once. Both systems should be able to maintain the seal so that you may attempt multiple uses from one cannister. If you use the whipped cream dispenser you can practice filling bags with NO2, which is very much cheaper than argon. :)

Does this make sense and sound doable? Let me know!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Trista

I should of been more specific.  The ladies costume accessories will only be ladies shoes and boots that will need to be packed away and in storage for long term.
Do you recommend I first try wrapping each ladies shoe or boot with either Nomex or Tyvek Softwrap?
Then bag the wrapped footwear in mylar or marvelseal360, then store in a tight box such as a polypropylene shoe box and refrigerate for cool storage.  Either the bag or the box packing needs to be reasonably moisture tight so that the contents don't dry out.
I'm not sure if you recommend bagging each shoe or boot separate to preserve their unique properties or bag as a pair.
Preserving the original odor of each object for as long as possible  is the most important element to me.
Thank you!


I've given this some thought.

Most shoes are made from leather, and what gives tanned leather its distinctive odor are the chemicals used in preserving the hide. If it is these odors you seek to preserve, the Tyvek along with nitrogen and argon should be good. A moisture tight polypropylene box in a climate controlled environment should be fine. I don't think refrigeration is necessary; simply avoidance of temperature extremes should reduce chemical escape. (Multiple freeze thawing events do not do kind things to adhesives.)

If the odors you seek to preserve are biological in nature, that's a little more difficult. I'd wrap each in Tyvek (which permits water vapor passage), put them in the box, aerate with only nitrogen, seal and freeze them. The argon would kill all of the microbial component you seek to preserve.

Perhaps take a less important pair of shoes made of similar materials, treat one in each manner, and then open them after a week and let your nose tell you which method works best.

As to wrapping singly or doubly, I don't think that should matter. Tyvek mailing envelopes are a convenient way to bag a shoe or a pair; perhaps simply bag them together if they both fit.

Good luck!

Chemistry (including Biochemistry)

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Trista Robichaud, PhD


No homework questions, especially ones copied and pasted from textbooks. I will answer questions about principles or give hints, but I do not do other's homework. I'm comfortable answering basic biochemistry, chemistry, and biology questions up to and including an undergraduate level of understanding. This includes molecular biology, protein purification, and genetics. My training/inclination is primarily in structural biology, or how the shapes of things affect their function. Other interests include protein design, protein engineering, enzyme kinetics, and metabolic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. My chemistry weaknesses are that I do not know organic or inorganic synthesis well, nor am I familiar with advanced inorganic reactions. I will attempt quantum mechanics and thermodynamics questions, but primarily as they relate to biological systems. Furthermore, I cannot tell you if a skin photograph is cancerous, or otherwise diagnose any disease. I can tell you how we currently understand the basic science behind a disease state, but I cannot recommend treatment in any way. Please direct such questions to your medical professional.


I hold a PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. I specialize in Biochemistry, with a focus on protein chemistry. My thesis work involved the structure and functions of the human glucose transporter 1. (hGLUT1) Currently I am a postdoc working in peptide (mini-protein) design and enzymology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. I am in Bjorn Steffensen's lab (PhD, DDS), studying gelatinase A and oral carcinoma.

2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007 American Chemical Society
2007 Protein Society
2011 UTHSCSA Women’s Faculty Association

Levine KB, Robichaud TK, Hamill S, Sultzman LA, Carruthers A. Properties of the human erythrocyte glucose transport protein are determined by cellular context. Biochemistry 44(15):5606-16, 2005. (PMID 15823019)
Robichaud TK, Appleyard AN, Herbert RB, Henderson PJ, Carruthers A “Determinants of ligand binding affinity and cooperativity at the GLUT1 endofacial site” Biochemistry 50(15):3137-48, 2011. (PMID 21384913)
Xu X, Mikhailova M, Chen Z, Pal S, Robichaud TK, Lafer EM, Baber S, Steffensen B. “Peptide from the C-terminal domain of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) inhibits membrane activation of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)” Matrix Biol. 2011 Sep;30(7-8):404-12. (PMID: 21839835)
Robichaud TK, Steffensen B, Fields GB. Exosite interactions impact matrix metalloproteinase collagen specificities. J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 28;286(43):37535-42 (PMID: 21896477)

Poster Abstracts:
Robichaud TK, Carruthers. A "Mutagenesis of the Human type 1 glucose transporter exit site: A functional study." ACS 234th Meeting, Boston MA. Division of Biological Chemistry, 2007
Robichaud TK, Bhowmick M, Tokmina-Roszyk D, Fields GB “Synthesis and Analysis of MT1-MMP Peptide Inhibitors” Biological Chemistry Division of the Protein Society Meeting, San Diego CA 2010
Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Catalytic Domain Exosites Contribute to Determining Matrix Metalloproteinase Triple Helical Collagen Specificities” Dental Science Symposium. UTHSCSA 2011
Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Exosite Interactions Determine Matrix Metalloproteinase Specificities” Gordon Research Conference on Matrix Metalloproteinase Biology, Bristol RI 2011

Oakland University, Auburn Hills MI BS, Biochemistry 1998
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester MA PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology 2001-2008
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio TX Postdoc, Biochemistry 2009-Present

Awards and Honors
1998 Honors College Graduate, Oakland University
2009 Institutional National Research Service Award, Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease T32 HL07446
2011 1st Place, Best Postdoctoral Poster, Dental Science Symposium, UTHSCSA, April 2011

Past/Present Clients
Invited Seminars:
Robichaud TK, Fields GB. “Synthesis and Analysis of MTI-MMP Triple Helical Peptide Inhibitors” Pathology Research Conference, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Pathology Department (June 18th, 2010)
Robichaud TK & Hill, B “How To Give A Great Scientific Talk” Invited Lecture, Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease Seminars, UTHSCSA (Nov 11th 2010), Cardiology Seminar Series, Texas Research Park (Feb 21st, 2011)
Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Exosite Interactions Determine Matrix Metalloproteinase Specificities” Gordon-Keenan Research Seminar “Everything You Wanted to Know About Matrix Metalloproteinases But Were Afraid to Ask” Bristol, RI (Aug 6th, 2011)

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