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Old 04-30-2019, 01:53 PM
DaveC426913 DaveC426913 is offline
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Storage Techniques for W/C

Please move to appropriate forum if this is not it.

Hi. I am an artist, but watercolour is not my forte (I'm an illustrator, figure and portraitist). W/C is my father's forte. He recently moved out of the family home and I took it upon myself to gather, catalogue and archive his works. That's about 750 or so watercolours.

(I plan to produce a limited edition of his 200 or so framed pics to give to friends & family (or sell for the ~$200 production cost), then produce an inexpensive archive of all his works.)

The paintings will need to go into long-term storage soon and I want to ensure they are protected. I'm looking for steps to keep them from molding.

Until a year ago, they're been in my parents' warm, dry basement in a canvas upright port folio. Currently they are in my unfinished basement, which, while full of dust and sawdust, has been recently gutted and then waterproofed. I bought a dehumidifier when I took possession of my father's legacy and it runs 24/7.

I'm not sure where they'll be stored long-term yet. Right now, I'm at the stage where I'm finishing the cataloguing so I've got to start packing them up. Because I'm digitizing them, they won't need to come out of storage until/unless a friend or family picks one from the catalogue.

I am imagining they'll end up in a half dozen sealed bundles or something - maybe boxes - but I'm not sure exactly.
  1. Is there anything I can/should do to treat them individually before I stack them together? Other than a dusting?
  2. Does it matter if I flatten them tight?
  3. Would a sheet of paper between them help?
  4. They are all different sizes. Not sure how I'll handle that, unless they go in some rigid container like a cardboard box.
  5. Should I wrap the bundles/boxes to seal them, or leave them open to breathe?
Could really use some guidance here.
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Old 05-04-2019, 04:48 PM
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Yorky Yorky is online now
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

Above all, you need to keep them dry. Traditionally they should be separated with sheets of acid free paper.

Doug
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:24 PM
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janinco janinco is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

A few articles that might be helpful:

https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/...like-an-expert

https://www.diplomaframe.com/chc-blo...ring-your-art/

This site has some archival storage materials:

https://www.gaylord.com/c/Preservation

Jan
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:15 PM
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virgil carter virgil carter is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

Architect's metal plan files:



Sling paint,
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:09 AM
Pesto126 Pesto126 is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

I would suggest digitizing them and getting them in proper storage SOONER rather than later or when convenient.... all it takes is one disaster and that legacy is gone forever....
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:34 PM
DaveC426913 DaveC426913 is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

Thanks guys. I think I'm going to put them in under-bed storage bins.

These bins are one of the only things I've found that are wide enough while still being flat enough to only hold a hundred paintings at a time. (Paintings - even unframed ones - are heavy!)

They're pretty indestructible and pretty water tight. I'll throw in some silicon packets and seal the edges with tape.

I was thinking of interspersing them with tissue, or better yet, acid-free paper, but - at one sheet per painting - that'll get pretty darned expensive pretty quick.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:37 PM
DaveC426913 DaveC426913 is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pesto126
I would suggest digitizing them and getting them in proper storage SOONER rather than later or when convenient.... all it takes is one disaster and that legacy is gone forever....
Yes. I've just completed the digitizing stage. Only took 6 months...

I was lucky. And stupid. Our upstairs shower drain had a leak above some of the paintings. I almost ruined a bunch. Inciting me to pack up sooner rather than later.

(And another high water season here on the Great Lakes). We're only 100 yards from the shore. Didn't flood two years ago, but you never know. Lucky my basement has now been waterproofed so we should be good though.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:40 PM
DaveC426913 DaveC426913 is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

Quote:
Originally Posted by janinco
Good tips. Thanks.

"...a client who Saran-wrapped a painting for storage, inadvertently trapping humidity inside, and allowed mold to damage the painting."

Now I feel better about peeling all the plastic wrapping off some of his paintings. I assume he'd wrapped them because he had a few outdoor shows. I wondered if, after photographing them, I should have been slipping them back into their protective wrappers. Now I feel better for not having done so.
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Old 05-09-2019, 02:48 AM
DaveC426913 DaveC426913 is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

Contacted a local archiving business. They sell tissue by the roll, silica packets and 1/16" foam rolls (for the framed pics).

This project may see its end yet!
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:26 AM
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

You are the Caretaker of a beautiful legacy. It seems that you have things well in hand.

I've been painting for about 16 years and have accumulated stacks of paintings. I've stored them without paper separators all this time and they're fine. As long as the work is kept high and dry, there should not be a problem with molding or colour leeching from one sheet to its neighbour.

The plastic bins are a great idea and I'll do the same, now, with my own work!
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Old 05-09-2019, 01:07 PM
briantmeyer briantmeyer is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

large underbed storage bins, the plastic sterilite or rubbermaid ones, just big enough so you can stack the paintings in them flat. I am just about to get another one to transport my matted pieces. I have one for each year, no slip sheets though. This is quick and effective, you can look at better strategies later. If its large enough to fit this canvas portfolio, all the better.

Everything in the bin should be acid free if its for long term, as acidity can migrate from this to that - acidity is basically lignin in raw wood. But if it's short term ( as in months ), acidity is not a huge concern. Assume it's acidic unless it says its not, further assume it could be just buffered which only lasts so long - this is why some mats are acid free and others are "conservation grade". Our papers are similarly acid free ( which means the acidity is balanced and can last a lifetime ), or 100% cotton ( which means is naturally acid free and can last 1000s of years ).

Some dessicant is a good idea, so is some traps for pests. Silverfish love to eat paper. Dessicant packets are rather cheap.

What I am doing is taking my prior work, i have huge piles of it, putting the stuff I don't like into a plastic bin as a stack. These are not really important, rather I just want to see my progress later on. ( This is what i recommend to do until you know where things should go )

And then taking the stuff I do like, or is important, and matting it, using linen tape, and a backing board, and putting this into a plastic sleeve. You can shrink wrap them, or they have packages of sleeves made for prints in standard sizes, I got one of these at hobby lobby for 16x20, its about $8 for 25 sleeves. When done i am going to keep these in a separate plastic bin where these can lay flat. This is my plan going forward. These are my body of work, the other bins with piles of work I probably will destroy at some point.

These are ready to sell as is, or ready to drop into a frame - as 16x20 is a standard size. I do a lot of rearranging what is in frames for shows, so having the main pieces already matted makes things a lot easier to reconfigure what it is I am showing. You could in a way rotate the artwork in your home.

Note that if the box gets wet, or something is acidic, the plastic is going to help protect each individual painting. Further these allow handling as your fingers and the oils on them never actually touch the painting, a stack of paintings is going to wear as you go thru it. This is nearly the same protection as being in a frame, but it's in a plastic box, and out of sunlight, so it's probably ideal. Just make sure the mat and tape and all that is completely acid free. You can also put a dessicant pack inside each one.

The real idea here is that how much protection is relative to the value of each piece - so you can scale up your efforts - lesser works in a pile is fine, slip sheeting the better ones ( like they do in museums ) is good to handle important works where there is just too many. Individual Plastic sleeves and card board backing are really good for the major pieces, like ones your dad won awards for.

If the work is small enough, like quarter sheets, they have large binders made for artwork, which lets you put them in individual sleeves, and are good for perusing.

Remember light exposure can often cause major problems for watercolors if your father used fugitive paint. ( alizarin crimson PR83, and others ) If this is the case you will want to not display the artwork for long periods, rather you can rotate paintings like they do in museums, this ensures they can be seen, but also that they won't build up too much light exposure. Its total hours of lumens that does it, so showing a piece one month during the year can make it last 12 times longer. UV protective glass is really helpful in extending this time.

Last edited by briantmeyer : 05-09-2019 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 05-26-2019, 05:56 PM
DaveC426913 DaveC426913 is offline
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Re: Storage Techniques for W/C

I got a roll of several hundred feet of tissue, which I cut down to size.
I am able to get 125 watercolours in a bin, placing two back-to-back with a sheet of tissue between front-to-front. (this means I use only one tissue sheet per 2 paintings).

So, the easy part is solved. The hard part will be dealing with the framed ones. I am really loathe to unframe them, even though that will save a lot of space and money.

I'm trying to figure out a way to store them that isn't too bulky or expensive. I'd only get 4 or 5 in one of these bins.

And some of the paintings are huge - like 36x48.
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