Friday, January 23, 2009

Treatment is complete, now what?

So much of the artwork we treat here has been damaged by improper materials used for framing or from poor storage choices. Because works of art on paper are extremely vulnerable to damage, the methods and materials we choose are selected carefully to promote the safety and longevity of the piece.

After conservation treatments, to ensure that the time and cost were well spent, we need to consider what the future of the art is. Will it be hung on a wall? Stored in a safe place? Or is this something meant to be viewed and handled a lot? We have various finishing options for your art that are in stride with the guidelines of the American Institute for Conservation.

Let's say that after conservation treatments that antique document of yours is probably going to be looked at quite a bit, but you're not sure if you want to have it framed, let alone figuring out just where to put it.

For something like this, we would recommend a storage mat. This will safely house the document, as well as allow for it to be handled without touching the actual object. A storage mat is a great option for long term storage if you choose not to frame the artwork. Although, if you do choose to frame it, the protective cover can be flipped to the back, providing an extra layer of archival backing.

To place artwork into a storage mat, made of 100% rag board, we would use a hinging method that is appropriate for the piece; utilizing archival materials such as Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. In some cases, mylar corners will work best for the art. The facing mat is an important component to the storage mat, not only for being the "window" surrounding the the front of the art, but because it protects the artwork from having direct contact with the glazing material [such as plexi-glas or glass].

Another option is to have the artwork encapsulated. Encapsulation is a process in which the artwork is placed between 2 sheets of mylar, an inert plastic product, and ultrasonically welded at its edges to prevent the contact with dirt, dust, etc. Unlike lamination which is virtually impossible to reverse, encapsulated artwork is actually floating between the 2 sheets of mylar, and at any time can be reversed. The mylar can be cut at one of its edges and the artwork simply slipped out.

Encapsulation is a sound option for something like a newspaper which is delicate to begin with, but if the newspaper has fragments or is an object that will be handled a lot, the encapsulation will allow for such. This process works well for items of a double sided nature where information on both the front and back needs to be seen.

Our museum quality matting and encapsulation options have lots of variables to meet your finishing requirements. However basic or seemingly complicated those needs are, Graphic Conservation will make the best choice for the artwork.