By Scott M. Haskins, Art Conservator
Recently we received a contract from the United States Coast Guard to first consult with them about the needs of a collection of 29 works of art on paper then to do the art conservation treatments that are so badly needed.
Besides the very interesting images done in different types of pencils, watercolor, inks and pencil, there are some great lessons to be learned by collectors about what NOT to use when sticking, gluing, framing and storing. The suggestions and tips I’ll make have an affect on value and long term preservation of these types of historical collectibles.
I’ve put together a quick video blow by of the collection of 29 items…
The conservation problems that afflict the entire collection mostly center around the use of Scotch Tape, masking tape, contact cement and acidic materials used for storage. Of course, as you might imagine, the artists were using what they had handy and archival materials where unknown at the time. Still, there is a list of never-to-be-used materials that collectors should be aware of today. See the illustration below.
Here is a photo of the back of an artwork that is the framing job from hell: 4 types of destructive tape; masking, packing, scotch and electrical. The adhesives from these tapes are soaked into the paper fibers so you can’t get the stain out and causes yellowing. There are historic labels on the backs of all of the work of art and as a collector, you can imagine the horror of tying to preserve a historic label covered in scotch tape. Adding to the dilemma is the yellowing and embrittlement of the papers due to acids.
So, the lesson to be learned here is to use archival, tested true materials for storage of and treatment of your treasured memorabilia. If your desire to fix up or restore your collectibles yourself gets into anything dicey or tricky, call a professional for some coaching. At least find out what you might do to impact negatively the value.
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Scott Haskins is the author of How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster Home Edition and Save Your Stuff in the Workplace Office Edition (Morgan James Publishing, NY)
Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 Art conservation questions
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Illustration from How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster on Amazon and as an e-book (50% off)
What books do you recommend to clean and restore watercolor paints.???? Thanks for your help
There are several things to consider when doing art restoration: 1. understand ALL the reasons why the item is falling apart (deterioration, 2. understand why and how adhesives, tapes and other materials you might use fall apart and how they could hurt the original artwork as they age, 3. obtain the craftsmanship (talent) of hand-eye coordination to recognize problems, not create new problems (like over cleaning) and generally not cause damage… and 4. understand the immediate and long range value of the item historically, artificially, financially… in other words, treat the item with respect.
I don’t know of a book that will teach you all that. I went to school to get a Master’s Degree, studied under experienced talented professionals and have spent a lifetime learning to be always better.
Sorry I can’t help.