Monday, March 16, 2009

Before the deluge

Mike asked me to report on the workshop I attended last week on the conservation and handling of art work. Here it goes.

To me, archival is one of the most mysterious marketing adjectives in the art world. Nevertheless, an artist should consider how archival her materials are– in other words, the expected longevity - before starting to work on a project. If you’re going to build a cityscape out of banana peels, expect disintegration. That said, ephemeral-ness may be your point, of course.

Less obviously, don’t forget that your hand oils are an attacking agent. So, when moving your works– even around the studio – consider cotton gloves, but not the kind with the plastic grips on the fingers. (Personally, I may use gloves when packing or storing or during a studio visit, but while making, no way.)

Also, it’s best to support the back of non-rigid work on paper when moving it (use a board for example); it protects from dinks. And let me tell you, in proper exhibition lighting, you will see those dinks, as I learned last week during installation.

Contemporary Conservation
seems to be extremely reliable should your piece need repair as a result of to time-related problems or shipping-related injuries.

Framing is world unto itself. Don’t forget acid free boards, and never use tape or most glues. These will eat into or tear your piece.

When shipping your work, don’t be skimpy with packing materials. Wrap your piece first in plastic to protect against water. For large works on paper, you may consider wrapping it around a roll of bubble wrap. This will save on costs, certainly.

Don’t use FedEx. Use specialized art handlers.

When storing your work, make sure your rack is set at least an inch off the ground. Again, flood protection. And again, wrap your work in plastic first.


Lady Xoc said...

To which might add, corrugated cardboard which is extremely useful for packing and cartoning will leave regular stripey abrasions (scuff marks) on the surface of things, especially the gold leaf on the face of a frame. It's best to avoid direct contact with a delicate surface. Use kraft paper, plastic or closed-cell foam sheeting, or better yet, arrange it so that the cardboard stands off the surface by a little bit of airspace.

Molly Stevens said...

Thanks for the extra info.