5 Ways to Take Care of Your Unframed Artwork


FullSizeRender (2) Do you have artwork floating around your house, in piles or shoved in random corners? Does it look something like this?


As a framing gallery, we have seen artwork in all sizes, shapes, and conditions. Some customers bring in their artwork in tubes, some in sleeves, some in plastic bags even…but the way your store your artwork is of incomparable importance. If improperly stored, the condition of your artwork can quickly become compromised.


Here are five tips to help you keep your unframed artwork in mint condition, from your friends at Frame Designs Gallery:


  1. Storing paper artwork between two flat surfaces is a good way to prevent the artwork from creasing, ripping, or being otherwise damaged. If the artwork is going to be stored this way for a long FullSizeRender (3)period of time, a type of acid- free material is recommended to store it between. An example of this would be a plastic sleeve, which many art stores sell in various sizes. Storing artwork in this way can be as simple as storing it between two pieces of cardboard, as long as the art will not remain in the cardboard for an extended period of time. Cardboard is an acidic material.  Contact with it over a prolonged period can affect your artwork, causing it to fade, discolor, or even create “foxing” (a type of brown speckling on the paper that is irreversible).
  2. If storing a poster, large print, or unstretched canvas, rolling it loosely and storing it in a large tube is recommended. Many posters and large prints already come rolled in tubes, and this is a great way to keep the artwork undamaged. One concern with this method is the risk of harming the artwork from contact with acidic cardboard materials. For that reason, this method is typically only recommended for short- term storage. Purchasing an archival tube made to store artwork long term will solve this problem.
  3. Storing your artwork away from sources of humidity, extreme light, or smoke will increase the life of your piece. Even when framed, your artwork is susceptible to smoke and water damage. Art is particularly susceptible to damage when unframed, even if stored correctly. To prevent this, keep art off of the floor, away from the kitchen or bathroom, and hidden in a closet or climate controlled basement where it will not fade over time.
  4. If storing original works of art, keep in mind the type of medium used. Many artists, when dealing with their buyer directly, will lend some tips to storing their art. Many mediums require different kinds of care. FullSizeRender (4)Some general guidelines are helpful. For example, pastels/ charcoals are very easily smeared. To prevent smearing, it is best stored with a type of parchment paper or special pastel paper laid loosely across the surface, with nothing laying on top of the artwork. Oil paints and acrylics are generally fairly durable mediums, but still can suffer water damage or flake if handled roughly. Paintings are best stored hung on a wall, or placed off the floor with cardboard or another surface between them to prevent scraping. It is best to store paintings with the back of one painting touching the back of another, or with the face of one to be facing the front of another. This prevents any time of hardware from the hanging system from damaging the front of the artwork, as well as the front of the artwork being chipped, scratched, or ruined. Drawings, photos, and other delicate media on paper are typically best stored away from light, off the floor, and in between some sort of sturdy material to keep them from bending. (see #1 for more details!).
  5. Framing is not only a great way to keep your work safe, but to make it visually interesting and able to be hung in a place for all to enjoy! Here at Frame Designs, we only use archival materials that will increase the life of your work of art, such as acid- free matboards and foamraffle-art core, archival mounting corners or adhesives, and we even offer ultraviolet filtering glass in both traditional and non- glare finishes. Some fear framing due to the cost. While custom framing is traditionally more expensive than picking up a readymade frame at a big- box store, it also is better quality, and is well worth the cost since it protects your artwork. We are always willing to work with a variety of budgets and time constraints to make your work into an outstanding piece of framed art. Come into the gallery at any time for a free consultation, and we will help guide you in the direction that is best to keep your artwork in prime condition!

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or need advice about your artwork, Frame Designs has been an invaluable source of knowledge about many aspects of handling and framing art for over thirty years. Stop into the gallery for a cup of coffee and a consultation about your artwork, or contact us via phone, email, or through our website. 

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