Storage and Conservation

Once you have been completing your paintings for some time you will begin to realize that proper storage for your art is almost as important as creating archive quality work. You must protect your art from excessive extremes in humidity,  acids, UV light, and insects all of which can turn hours of work into trash or at the very least a time consuming restoration.

Paper – Of all your paintings, the most vulnerable that will require the most attention will be those created on paper.

For storage there is no better place than
Steel Flat Files
with a baked enamel finish to keep your work clean and organized. Some prefer wooden files unfinished on the inside to help control humidity. There are a few extra precautions to take though. To prevent acid migration it is important to isolate your work by lining the drawers with museum board or a similar acid free material. This will allow you to stack your paper art unwrapped separating them with PH buffered tissue slip sheets. As a preventative measure against cotton paper eating insects such as silverfish and moths,  leaving a boric acid packet in each drawer is also advised. 

SMI Unfinished Natural Birch Flat Files


SMI Unfinished Natural Birch Stackable Files

Another measure of proactive protection to preserve your paper art is Mylar encapsulation or Polypropylene Art Envelopes,  best for smaller pieces that are transported or handled frequently protecting from moisture and oils such as when on display. Caution should be taken however with the paper to be certain your art has completely dried and to wrap it in such a way that it is allowed to breath. With watercolors, pastels and work with inks, sealing it completely is not advised since any moisture is left in the paper could cause a green house effect (sweating) and ruin your art.  It is not advised to use this method without first matting your work with acid free matt that has been hinged with acid free tape where the art can be held rigid to protect it from folds. (see matting and framing)     

Canvas – Lightly painted un-stretched canvas that has completely dried where the paint has thoroughly cured can be covered with Glassine paper and  rolled loosely painted side out  then stored in sealed Polyethylene Storage Tubes. It is important that the paint has cured and that the art is rolled with the painting to the outside. If the paint were to cure with the painted side in, once it had been unrolled it would stretch the painted surface causing cracks. Excluding the use glassine paper, this method was used by many renaissance painters as a means of safely transporting their work.  

Framed art – when unable to hang in your studio or gallery your stretched and/or framed art should be stored in racks or stored upright, covered with linen to protect from dust, placed in a low humidity controlled environment with indirect exposure to sunlight and plenty of air circulation to inhibit mildew growth. 

Storage areas -should maintain a controlled and consistent temperature range of 60- 70 Deg F and a relative humidity of 45-50 %. Minimizing or limiting exposure to light and heat sources will reduce deterioration extensively for all media. High temps and low humidity can cause shrinkage, separation of glued items and cracking of  paper, wood, and paint. Where as, high humidity atmospheres are latent opportunities for mold, mildew and fungi growth. Therefore, in the room that you plan to utilize as storage for  your paintings, the use of A/C and/or a dehumidifier is suggested and because of the extremes in temperature and humidity you should avoid attic or basement storage wherever possible.

 USEFUL LINKS

 DOCUMENT PRESERVATION CENTER

Light Impressions- Archival Supplies

DuPont Mylar

Talas – Conservation, preservation and restoration supplies

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