...serenity in motion

Preservation, investment in the past to save your future

I have touched on being archival because it is kind of a big deal to me.  There is a step I might skip here and there but mainly; I listen to what my framer says and try hard to follow her advice.  I work for her now and again, helping her clean up originals that have been through a fire.  That is a stinky, dirty job.  There are toxins involved, you get black soot everywhere and there is the disappointment when you realize that the cleaning is going to probably take off some pigment.  You stop, pull back and plan a different way to attack the situation.  The problem is, there is a chance of doing more harm than good.  Most of this could be solved with preservation. 

People who start to do art often skip the whole “archival” step.  Why should they?  They are doing this for fun.  Every professional will tell you, sooner or later a piece comes back from your past that surprises you.  You get shocked to see what you created in the beginning because you took chances and did create some incredible things.  Most times, it is “My Aunt had this, did you do it?”  but every once in a while, it is, “This got damaged, can you repair it?”  Damage can happen in many ways but most times it is just because it hung around where it got very dirty.  I have this one painting I inherited, and It hung in my grandma’s kitchen.  She loved it, and she smoked under it for 30 years. Two packs a day, every day, sitting in the same chair.  Plus, all of the cooking she did, soaked into the painting.  Why? The artist didn’t varnish it.  There is no paper backing on it.  It wasn’t sealed. I will concede that varnish can yellow, after a hundred years.  Paper grows brittle over time; it can be replaced.  Ultimately, if the painting was varnished, I could gently clean the surface to make it bright again.  Oh, I can still clean it; but it won’t be as good a job removing the dulling smoke and the smell won’t ever go away.

Doing simple preservation chores now in the beginning, will make it a habit.  Invest in a roll of good paper to seal the back of your work, it will keep out bugs as well as dust and smoke.  Take the time to seal your work, either behind glass or with a good quality varnish.  Invest in your creation; if not for yourself, do it for those who invest in you.  They bought and paid for your hard work, help them enjoy it for years and generations to come.