Storage Wars - Fighting Storage Damage When You Store Your Collectibles

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Damage to artwork, collectibles, memorabilia, certificates, old photos is avoidable and requires only a little bit of effort to prevent it. Here is an article full of great tips, photos and real life examples… no matter where you store your cherished items.

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Storage Wars - Fighting Storage Damage When You Store Your Collectibles

  1. 1. Storage WarsFighting storage damage when you store your collectiblesBy Kelly Rose Almeida, Art Conservation InternWhen one thinks of storage wars, your mind might wonder to the A&Etelevision show where treasure hunters bid on storage lockers in search forhidden riches.More common, however, is the battle to avoid damage while in storage to collectibles, breakables,artwork, memorabilia both valuable and emotionally important items. Case in point: Family history scrapbook with certificates, diplomas, pictures of deceased dear ones left to rot after it got wet in poor storage conditions.This battle often happens in your own home garage, attic or basements! Humidity, insects, dust,and water damage are just a few of the daily enemies homeowners must combat to protect their“stuff.” But is your stuff worth protecting? See this article if you are in doubt: Is it worth it? (CLICKHERE)Most damaged paintings that we see at our art conservation lab, Fine Art ConservationLaboratories (Click to see video tour), could have been avoided if they were properly stored andprotected. Here is an e-mail we got the other day:Hello Mr. Haskins :I saw a video of your work in YouTube. I have a paintingwhich was damaged in storage during my moving a coupleof months ago. I am enclosing a few pictures that showclose-ups of the damage (the rip) as well as the overallpainting. The size of the painting when mounted is 7 ft x7ft. I live in Miami and would like to know if you havesomeone in my area you can recommend that does highquality restorations. Also let me know if you would beinterested in doing this restoration and if so, what wouldbe the cost.Based on what you can evaluate on the pictures, pleasegive me your opinion of what I can expect of therestoration outcome.Regards,Clara
  2. 2. Unfortunately, the bottom line on my response to her inquire was not encouraging;It is a painting that is not worth a lot financially but will require several $1,000’s for“high quality restorations” and to make perfect and be well preserved, long term.Properly storing your paintings may seem to be a hassle especially for paintings of low financialvalue or for which you don’t really care for (why else would you be putting into storage?!). Butconsider this: you may not know its value; you may not know the connection other familymembers have with the item; you may be seriously attacked by family if anything about theartwork is damaged… especially if it’s a family portrait!In order to safeguard your memories and beautiful artwork for the future, it is imperative that youproperly store your paintings in the right climate conditions, in the right area of your house orstorage unit, and properly protected from the unseen dangers that surround them.Another BIG important thing to consider may be the frame. Do you know how expensive framingis?! Don’t damage what you have especially if its old and ornate. If its already damaged, DON’TTHROW IT AWAY. Here’s an important article for you: Take care of old frames - some tips (CLICKHERE)Simple, ornate, period, or wood frame, can help protect the edges of a painting from being dentedor torn. Also, having ultraviolet resistant glass or plastic a few inches from the face of the canvasthat is sealed to the frame can create almost an airtight-like box.This frame will help prevent dirt, water, and dust from entering andreducing extreme changes in temperature and humidity.But almost nothing can protect a painting from a downpour ofwater! Choose well where you store items. Here’s a sad story: Thefather didn’t the painting and leaned it against a wall in the garagewhere it got water all over it. The water caused the canvas to shrinkand the paint to pop off. Feeling bad and ragged on by the family, hetook the painting to a hack to have him scrap off the flaking andrepaint the thing. Now, a couple of decades later, the daughter is
  3. 3. cursing her father’s name cause the painting WAS worth about $400,000.00 but is now worth onlya fraction of that because of the totally avoidable water damage and the subsequent avoidableinflicted damage by the inept restorer. The painting is in our lab now. Here’s a photo.When it comes to temperature and humidity, it is inevitable for it to change with the seasons. Itwould be ideal for a painting to be stored at around 50% humidity. This would prevent moldgrowth, but also prevent the canvas and wood from getting too dry. Now, how do you moderatethis? Well, you can’t really keep it perfect in most homes, but you can reduce drastic changes intemperature. If your home doesn’t have a good place, rental storage units sometimes have climatecontrolled units… but be sure to pay your rent (Storage Wars)!!!!Now, lets talk about bugs and rodents. They are everywhere, and love an environment where theycan prosper. You may not be able to avoid them, but you can create an environment that helpskeep them away. Many LOVE to eat your canvas and frames, they also love damp areas with lots ofdust. Well, if you keep your storage room spick and span, these little guys will run away and findyour neighbors house to settle in instead. Poisonous bait and other insecticides can be used, butdon’t let them be in contact with the artwork. Remember that insect or rodent bait doesn’t lastforever… you will need to replenish or replace the bait every so often. Also, make sure they areout of reach of kids and pets!!! Protect yourself and be prepared in public storage units (eventhough they say they spray!)… you never know what your neighbor is storing that may be a neonwelcome light to invaders. Canvas is fabric, simple as that. Therefore, these lovely animals love to burrow into your untreated canvas for lunch anddinner, and always come back for dessert. Create an environment to prevent these critters from making your Renoir their home.Now that your room is insect, rodent and dirt free, sometimes the simplest thing can help preventdamage. If your painting is exposed with no frame, then find a storage rack to set your canvases onthat are above the ground. This will protect them from moisture that may creep on the floor. Also,padding! Use cardboard, preferably cardboard that is double thickness, between your canvas andANYTHING that may come in contact with it.
  4. 4. At FACL, we received a painting that was stored poorly, and the front of the canvas was completely indented. Luckily for these patrons, our art conservators were able to use heat and moisture to repair the damageAlso, put cardboard between framed work as well, the more protection the better. It is always agood idea to make sure that you check your artwork a few times a year to make sure that itemshave not shifted, and to prevent damage like the image above. So, to sum it up, you need a dry place with no dirt and no rodents or bugs, with protectionbetween paintings. Every small step counts when it comes to protecting your artwork. Of coarse, if you have any questions, contact Scott Haskins at Fine Art Conservation Labs inSanta Barbara, 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com. Art appraisal questions? Call RichardHolgate 805 895 5121 or jrholgate@yahoo.comFollow us on Facebook at Save Your Stuff, Fine Art Conservation and Scott M. Haskins

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