Monday, January 9, 2012

Some Advice from Poster Mountain for the New Year...

While we wouldn't have jobs if it weren't for the damage that printed works receive through the wear and tear of life, we would like to end the year with some advice for basic care and maintenance for paper collections.

Tape: Ok, this is a big one. Tape is not our friend. There is no such thing as archival tape. It just does not exist, although the marketing on that was great. So, please resist the urge to put tape on your pieces to hold them together. We would rather that you bring it to us in a plastic bag (Yes, one of our clients has actually done this.) Another of our clients was putting tape on the corners of things because he thought that it made our job easier. It doesn't and it could end up costing you more money when we have to remove it. Also, if you absolutely have to do a do it yourself project on your poster please let us or whatever conservator you are using know about it. (Just because its not immediately obvious doesn't mean we won't find it eventually) Tape can also create unsightly stains on paper, which then have to be either washed out or if water and soap aren't strong enough then we have to airbrush them. So unless you have lots of expendable income and are happy to let us restore your pieces to our hearts content, Poster Mountain would suggest that you stay away from tape.

Pictured: Here is an example of what not to do. Apart from the piece of brown "archival" tape that is obvious, there are small pieces of tapes at the intersections of all of the fold lines and several more pieces along the bottom. Tape is a part of life and we are experts at removing it, but do us and yourselves a favor: Don't put any more tape on your posters!

Glue:  I know that it makes a tasty treat for preschoolers during craft time, but Elmer's glue is a horrible substance. Unlike other glues (please note some not all), Elmer's is not water soluble. Meaning that if something has been glued down using Elmer's, its not going anywhere. John and co. have a lot of experience with all kinds of adhesive, but Elmer's is simply the worst.  Not that we recommend that you glue anything down yourself. In fact we would recommend the opposite. Bring it in and let us conserve it responsibly, with natural and reversible materials.

Pictured: This photo, from our blog post titled "An Unusual Vargas Drawing," illustrates the damage that adhesive can do. Two pieces of dry adhesive bonded this drawing to the mat board. The adhesive also created the stains on the majority of the paper. The thin strip of lighter colored paper is the color that the paper is supposed to be. The whole piece had to be airbrushed to even out the paper color.

Storage: We have encountered this one a lot in the last few months. For those of you with collections that need to be stored we would suggest a couple of different things. If the storage is at your place of residence then invest in some shelves or flat files. Additionally, always keep collectables off of the floor. We have had several clients come in recently with water damaged pieces that could have been prevented if they had simply been kept even an inch above the floor. In some cases we can repair the damage, but in others the works were completely ruined. Also, if you are planning on keeping things in storage for an extended amount of time we would suggest hard tubing or cases. Protective cases keeps little varmints and pests away from your pieces as well as protecting them from being accidentally crushed.

Pictured: This sad pile of posters have all been damaged from flooding. If they had been stored just a few inches above the floor they would not have been damaged, but now most of them will be difficult to save if they aren't completely ruined.

Pictured: This is an example of how to safely store your collection. These are the shelves in the Poster Mountain archive room. The lowest shelf is elevated above the floor, giving you even more protection from water damage.

Buying Online: While there are some very reputable and wonderful online sources for art, be careful. Always verify the sources before buying a piece. It is very easy to buy something that has been misrepresented by the seller.

 Shipping: We generally use FedEx for our shipping and have had the best results with them. Additionally, when shipping something to us please respect the state of your piece. If it is rolled send it to use in a tube. If it is folded send it to us in a flat package. Rolling something that has been folded or folding something that has been rolled can create even more cracks and tears. This also goes for storing things as well.

Framing: Please go to a reputable framer. Fast Frame and Aaron Brothers don't count. There are lots of very wonderful and local companies that will work with you on a budget to properly frame your pieces. Some of the tape and glue issues that I have described above came from bad frame jobs. We work with a number of framers in the Los Angeles area and would be more than happy to suggest one to you. Also, be aware of where you are hanging framed pieces. Even if you have UV resistant glass you still don't want to hang it somewhere that gets direct sunlight. And bathrooms are never a good place to hang your collectables. There is just too much moisture. Pieces that have pastel or charcoal pigment should also never be framed using plexiglass or with the glass pressed directly on top of the pigment, both of these things could cause the pigment to lift off of the paper.

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa gave you some wonderful new posters and pieces of art that need our love and attention. Happy New Year from Poster Mountain!

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