Product Care Tips

Porous woods : These are woods that will most likely absorb what you use to clean them with.  These woods include pine and osese.  To care for these woods, Exotic Imports recommends a fine quality lemon oil.  Find one that has very little alcohol, or petroleum distillates, in it.  In fact, if you can avoid alcohol, that is the best alternative.   Since all woods will crack with time, the best bet is to place your art in an area that will offer it some humidity.  Never put your art in a lighted display case that is not adequately ventilated.  The heat will dry out the wood very quickly.   Wood cracks because the moisture is evaporating from it.  You can slow this process by treating it with lemon oil.  With a porous wood you must be very careful.   When lemon oil is applied to a porous wood, it tends to darken it.  ALWAYS test the lemon oil on an obscure area and observe its effects.  In a couple of days, the wood lightens, but it may never return to its original color.  If you don't mind the effects, use the oil sparingly and polish the entire piece.  We like to use one cloth to apply and another cloth to polish.  Apply some lemon oil to a soft cloth, then rub the art thoroughly, making sure not to miss the cracks and corners of the piece.  Let the piece sit for about 10 minutes, then use the other cloth the clean up any residue.  Never use paper towels!  The patterns on the towel can bleed into the wood, and the little fuzzy balls they leave behind are unsightly.  An alternative to lemon oil is to coat the item with a very thin layer of wax such as paraffin.   Many carvings are coated immediately after they are carved to limit cracking by eliminating the evaporation of the moisture within.  Though Exotic Imports has never done this process on any merchandise, we feel that it is a viable alternative to continuous lemon oil applications.  This may also affect the color of the piece and will affect it's texture.  If you have never cleaned this piece, and you do not know what it should look like, be very careful not to remove original qualities of the piece that may severely devalue it.  Seek the advise of a collector or gallery before cleaning something that your not sure about.  Many collectors prefer owing a piece with its original patina.  A dry cloth, with no polish is all that's needed for older art. Back to the top.


Hard woods : These are woods that will not absorb much of what you apply to them.  These woods include ebony, muhuhu, and maple.  To care for these woods, Exotic Imports recommends a fine quality lemon oil.  Find one that has very little alcohol, or petroleum distillates, in it.  In fact, if you can avoid alcohol, that is the best alternative.  Since all woods will crack with time, the best bet is to place your art in an area that will offer it some humidity.  Never put your art in a lighted display case that is not adequately ventilated.  The heat will dry out the wood very quickly.  Wood cracks because the moisture is evaporating from it.   You can slow this process by treating it with lemon oil.  Lemon oil will also clean the wood of dirt and grime, bringing forward it's original luster.  ALWAYS test the lemon oil on an obscure area and observe its effects.  We like to use one cloth to apply, and another cloth to polish.  Apply some lemon oil to a soft cloth, then rub the art thoroughly, making sure not to miss the cracks and corners of the piece.   Let the piece sit for about 10 minutes, then use the other cloth the clean up any residue.  Never use paper towels!  The patterns on the towel can bleed into the wood, and the little fuzzy balls they leave behind are unsightly.   When caring for ebony and other hard exotic woods, you may notice that there is some color on your cloth.  This could be due to the fact that your artifact has been artificially colored, or because you are removing some of the natural pigment of the wood.  To test if your art has been treated with a pigment to affect its color, in an obscure area, like the bottom, use a knife and scratch away a little of the surface.  Do this just until you see shavings or if you see a color change.  If you notice a shift in color from the outside of the piece to the core of the artifact, it probably has been covered with something to affect its appearance.  Many ebony wood carvings, for example, have had a black pigment added to make the woods black for the tourist trade.  Ebony, in fact, is not solid black, it does have a slightly lighter grain to it.  Rubbing off the black polish is up to you.  You will uncover a beautiful grain, but, often the carver has added this to cover imperfections in the stock, namely blemishes caused by the softer bark of the tree. If you have never cleaned this piece, and you do not know what it should look like, be very careful not to remove original qualities of the piece that may severely devalue it.  Seek the advise of a collector or gallery before cleaning something that your not sure about.  Many collectors prefer owing a piece with its original patina.  A dry cloth, with no polish is all that's needed for older art.   Back to the top.


Finished woods :  These are woods that should only be dusted with furniture polish.  A finished item has been painted or coated with a wax.  To care for these woods, Exotic Imports recommends spraying some non-wax furniture polish onto a soft cloth, then gently rubbing the artifact.  Always use a polish that has very little alcohol, or petroleum distillates, in it.  In fact, if you can avoid alcohol, that is the best alternative.  Since all woods will crack with time, the best bet is to place your art in an area that will offer it some humidity.  Never put your art in a lighted display case that is not adequately ventilated.  The heat will dry out the wood very quickly.  Wood cracks because the moisture is evaporating from it.  Since your art has a finish on it, there is nothing you can add to the piece without damaging it's finish.  If you attempt to use lemon oil, you will most likely remove the finish or change it's color.  If you want to try this, ALWAYS test the lemon oil on an obscure area and observe its effects.  When caring for woods that have a glossy or lacquered finish, never rub with too much force.  This may scratch the appearance.  Remember, a clean, soft cloth with a little polish on it is the best bet.  If you have never cleaned this piece, and you do not know what it should look like, be very careful not to remove original qualities of the piece that may severely devalue it.  Seek the advise of a collector or gallery before cleaning something that your not sure about.  Many collectors prefer owing a piece with its original patina.   A dry cloth, with no polish is all that's needed for older art. Back to the top.


Soapstone :  This material is easy to care for.  All of the soapstone that Exotic Imports sells is coated with paraffin.  This protects the stone from staining and gives the stone a luster finish.  From time to time you may need to polish it to restore its shine.  Exotic Imports recommends spraying some non-wax furniture polish onto a soft cloth, then gently rubbing the artifact.  Always use a polish that has very little alcohol, or petroleum distillates, in it.  In fact, if you can avoid alcohol, that is the best alternative.  Should your artifact get chipped, gently sand the area with a fine grit sandpaper.  When you are satisfied with the results, add a little paraffin.  In a pinch you can even use some of those products that are applied to the lips to keep them from chapping.  If the item you own has had a color added to change its overall appearance, then you can use a marker with a similar color to mask the scratch, then a paper towel to quickly blend the colors together before the marker dries. Back to the top.


Shona Stone :  Items that are from the Shona tribe of Zimbabwe are often made from the material serpentine.  African serpentine varies from Asian serpentine in texture and requires a different care.   Exotic Imports sells only Shona art that has had a protective layer of wax added.   To care for "Shona" stone, you need only dust the item by spraying some non-wax furniture polish onto a soft cloth, then gently rubbing the artifact.  If the piece has etching on it, or is not completely finished, be careful not to touch the non-finished areas with the cloth, it may discolor them.   Always use a polish that has very little alcohol, or petroleum distillates, in it.  In fact, if you can avoid alcohol, that is the best alternative.  Should your artifact get chipped, gently sand the area with a fine grit sandpaper.  When you are satisfied with the results, add a little paraffin.  In a pinch you can even use some of those products that are applied to the lips to keep them from chapping.  If the item becomes broken, instantly bonding glues work well.  Follow the instructions on the package.     Back to the top.


Miscellaneous : For many items, all you need to keep them clean is a soft, dry cloth.  Just wipe the item down to remove any dust buildup.  For porcelain tea sets and other items, always hand wash.  For porcelain decorative items, a light coating of furniture polish may give them a little luster.  But beware, some polishes may react with gold leafing.   ALWAYS test an inconspicuous area and let it sit for a day or so before doing the entire piece.  When you have an item that is bone or ivory, touching the item often is best for it.  The oils from your skin will help keep the item from cracking.   If you are never sure of how to care for an item, Exotic Imports recommends taking it to a shop with like items, and given they are experienced, they should be able to give you detailed care instructions. Back to the top.


If you are searching for a specific item or are a wholesaler please e-mail info@exoticimports.com