ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Care For Your Artwork and Prints

Updated on November 20, 2014

Proper Handling & Storage Of Artwork To Maintain It's Value

This page was created to offer you some information on how to properly store and handle your artwork. Many times artwork is purchased and not framed or displayed but tucked away in storage sometime for many years. Improper storage of artwork can damage it and in some case render the art valueless. So whether you bought some artwork to someday hang or as an art investment, it is essential that you take care of that art in order for it to retain it's maximum value.

Prior to opening my own gallery I worked for a museum in the art and framing department. Additionally over half of my life has been spent in the art and framing industry. So here I will share some of things I have learned to help you avoid damaging your artwork through some of the most common mistakes. Most of these things are very basic and so easy for you to do, there's really no reason not to.

copyright protected by copyscape
copyright protected by copyscape

All copyrights are retained by the artist, Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery.

The artwork or content in this lens may not be used or reproduced, either in part or in whole, without the express written consent from the artist.

The 4 Major Causes Of Damage To Artwork Are:

What To Avoid To Maintain The Artwork's Value

1. Acidic Materials. Like cardboard, wood or non-conservation grade matboard are to be avoided for both framing or storage. The acids in these materials cause yellowing and discoloration and will eventually ruin the artwork.

2. Temperature. Quick shifts between extreme temperatures should be avoided. Ideal temps run between 50 to 70 degrees. Heat will speed deterioration and cold causes brittleness.

3. Humidity. As with temperature, extreme shifts in humidity should be avoided. Too much dampness causes papers and canvas to expand. And when the humidity goes down, these items then contract which can cause cracking and warping. Ideal humidity is about 50% to 70%. Any higher promotes mold growth.

4. Light Unless you are storing art in the dark (which is actually recommended for artwork not currently out for sale or display) it will be in some sort of light and all light will cause damage. Light causes fading, and eventually destroys both paper and canvas.

The order of UV damage from light is:

Sunlight, (most harmful)

Fluorescent

Incandescent (least harmful.)

So With These Potential Artwork Hazards In Mind You Should Never:

What To Avoid To Maintain The Artwork's Value

Never store or hang art in direct sunlight. Also at one time it was very much the thing to do, but you should not have a light hung over a painting to showcase it.

Never store or hang where there are dramatic shifts in temperature or humidity Like a basement or attic.

Never hang art over a heater or fireplace that is used.

Likewise never hang art in a kitchen or bathroom, or on an outside wall (kinda hard to avoid that one.)

Never leave artwork in a tube, because it will bend the art, if left over time when unrolled may cause cracking and also because of the acidic cardboard. Always store art flat surrounded with acid free materials. So this also means

Never store artwork in cardboard flats for any lengthy period of time.

Essentially the best way to protect your art is to have it framed properly and um . . . and then stored in a very dark, environmentally friendly closet..

Just kidding . . . sort of.

When Handling Artwork Clean Hands or Hands Off

Maintaining The Value of Artwork

And finally, when handling prints, particularly those that are deemed valuable in the resale market it is very important that you have clean hands. Artwork is far more delicate than it seems and even if you don't notice damage right away it may magically appear later. So at the very least wash your hands thoroughly. Or better still use white cotton gloves which are available at most hobby and craft stores.

Oils from your hands can seep in and stain a print. Even if it doesn't show up immediately it may do so over time. Limited edition prints lose value and can even become valueless when they incur any flaw or damage.

So if you think that Terry Redlin print will be your retirement paycheck . . . well firstly I'd say invest you money in something else. But after that in order for any art to maintain value it needs to be damage free and cared for and stored properly.

Gloves: Exactly What You Need For Handling Artwork. - Picture Framing Cotton Gloves For Maintaining The Value of Artwork

The Importance Of Quality Picture Framing In Maintaining Artwork's Value

Maintaining The Value of Artwork

I will once again remind you that when you're framing your work, spend the extra $$ and get it done properly. Make sure the frame shop you've selected to handle your valuable art has the knowledge and materials to do a quality conservation job. Don't be afraid to ask questions. By asking a few basic questions you can get a feel for how knowledgeable your framers is. By asking questions you'll be able to know who knows their stuff and whose just working a 9 to 5.

To Get You Started, Here's A Few Sample Questions (along with the answers) To Ask Your Framer.

"What is the best mat board to use with this art photograph?" Definitely acid free or museum grade. But there are some mat boards made specifically for photographs.

"What is the difference between conservation glass and regular glass? Conservation Glass blocks between 94 and 97% UV Light. Regular glass blocks 47%.

"Will my art still fade using Conservation Glass?" Yes. All art of value should not be hung in direct sunlight or under flourescents. Conservation Glass will definitely slow down the process of fading though.

"Do I need to have matting on my grandma's needle art?" No. But you do need to have airspace between the glass and the fabric to prevent mold growth. This can be done using archival spacers designed specifically for this purpose.

"If I change my mind and no longer want this framed will I be able to remove it?" Yes! The answer to this question should always be yes. Sometimes to have something framed a certain way this may not be possible but you should know that up front. I have framed all sorts of objects small and large and I always do them so the can removed in the same condition that they were framed.

About The Author Of Caring For Your Artwork

Mona Majorowicz Of Wild Faces Gallery

My name is Mona Majorowicz I am a professional artist who has been making my living selling my work for some time now. I have been in the art and framing industry for over 20 years. I am an animal artist, (meaning I paint critters) who works primarily in Oil Pastel or Water Soluble Pencil.

I own and operate Wild Faces Gallery with my husband Mike in a small rural town in Iowa. There we sell my original artwork and prints, as well as do quality custom framing and offer Giclee printing for other artists as well as for ourselves

I maintain a blog called Fur In The Paint, as well as write a regular column for Apples 'N Oats (an equestrian magazine) about painting horses.

Animals are my passion and art is how I chose to express it.

Do You Have A Framing Question You'd Like Answered? Leave a comment. - Caring For Artwork Guestbook

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Karthick 2 years ago

      I also had a wax treatment, but with my eybowers. It was painful at first, but after a few minutes I could finally handle it. It was definitely worth it and I might try it again later! I love all your comics and I look forward to reading another.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Very helpful lens. I never thought about the oil on fingers.

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 6 years ago

      Thankyou for another informative lens, I will keep reviewing your lenses as they are educational for me! See you around the galaxy...

    • WildFacesGallery profile image
      Author

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      @anonymous: Hello Jo Ann,

      Are we talking about paintings on canvas or paper? Short term storage in cardboard (especially for canvas) is okay. It takes a while for the acids to migrate. If the work is on paper or even unstretched canvas you could line the cardboard with acid free (AF)paper, AF foamboard or even AF mattboard. If the art is still "wet" it really should be exposed to airflow and not wrapped in any material. If you do put it in a box of some sort you need adequate air space around the painting for proper curing. But again the best solution (if possible) is to leave them out. I would think whatever you do for the one week that you're out of your apartment would be okay.

      Hope this was helpful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Mona,

      My question is not about framing yet as I just painted eight landscapes in JUly and August so they need another 4-5 months to cure. Right now, I have to move out of my apartment for a week whilemit is being renovated and I don't know how tomstore them. You say it is bad to store them in cardboard boxes. How do I keep the wet surfaces from touching anything. can I wrap then in acid free paper? Righ t now, they are sitting on the floor, leaning on the wall. thanks for your help. P.S. I live in Frankfurt, Germany, so I don't have access to all American art supplies. Thanks for your advice. Jo Ann Assal. (jassal34@hotmail.com)