Caring for Original Oils, Acrylics, Water Colours and Giclée Fine Art Prints on Canvas or Paper
Enemies of Art Prints
Paper has a tendency to be fragile and needs to be handled with care. Aging of a print or watercolour is a natural chemical and biological process. But there are other environmental factors that affect it's longevity such as pollution, light, heat, humidity, smoke, cooking fumes, dust and air circulation to name a few. Follow these handling and care precautions to prevent your artwork from showing signs of deterioration from mishandling.
Sunlight and Indoor Lighting
Where you hang your artwork can have a major impact on its longevity.
Never hang your original oil, acrylic, watercolour or fine art print in direct sunlight, regardless of the type of glazing used. The colours of your print can become completely faded out. Exposing artwork to direct sunshine or artificial light from bulbs or fluorescent lighting is one of the worst and most frequent mistakes.
In sunny environments or in areas that are lit with fluorescent lighting, the use of UV acrylic or glass helps to minimize the effects of harmful ultraviolet rays. However it will not eliminate the effects of the UV light completely and damage to the art print may still be an issue. Do not place lamps too close to art prints. Keep them away from direct heat sources. For example, a 40-watt bulb should be no closer than 18 inches. The bright light and heat given off by the bulbs can damage the artwork.
Humidity and Heating
Humidity causes moulding and discoloration spots. Storing works of art in a basement with high humidity and without air circulation will inevitably cause damage. Humidity also attracts pests like silverfish, which can damage your artwork.
During winter months, rooms are often overheated and the humidity is too low. Relative humidity should be between 40% and 60%. Having plants in the house that you water will increase the humidity or place bowls with water near heating sources or radiators. Your art works on paper and antique furniture will appreciate it.
Bathrooms - Are not the best environment to hang your artwork print due the extremes in temperature and humidity.
Heat and Temperature
Extreme temperature fluctuations cause expansion and contractions of paper and can cause a rippling effect on prints that are not surfaced mounted and protected by glazing
Do not hang original oil, acrylic or art print over or near heating sources or directly next to or over heating air ducts. Most homes and businesses have each room heated and sometimes in the winter months, over-heated. A permanent humidity below 40 percent will dry out the paper and make them brittle. Museums keep a constant temperature in their exhibition rooms.
Over the Fireplace
It is not generally recommended hanging pictures art over fireplaces. Before you do, check these items carefully. The heat is directed out towards the room and not flowing upward, there is no smoke particles being released around the fireplace and check for excessive heat next to or above the fireplace. Watch the humidity in the home and hang art prints that have glazing to protect the prints.
Indoor pollution that can affect artwork are from acids in papers and furniture, carpets, paints, dust and dirt, smoke, ozone, cooking fumes, among many other particulate materials or chemical fumes.
Handling Paper Art Prints and Watercolours
A lot of publications will tell you to not to touch art prints with your hands and wear white cotton gloves. Sounds good, but how many people will have or will use white cotton gloves? So, be aware that the oils and contaminants on your hands will attack the print and cause discoloration and/or fading over time. What you can do is wash your hands thoroughly or put on the light, tightly fitting surgical gloves before handling prints or watercolours. Whatever you do, do not get fingerprints on the image, the mount board or the mat.
Storage Paper Fine Art Prints
For home or office storage: - To store keep the print in its mounted frame. If you have loose prints, they should never be stored where the face of two prints is in direct contact with each other. Put each giclée art print into a separate folder of acid-free paper and store them in a horizontal position.
You should check the placement of your prints regularly for insects. Wormholes or worm tracks caused by silverfish or other pests will destroy the aesthetic look and financial value of your fine art prints.
Cleaning Picture Glazing (acrylic or glass)
Simply dust the frame and protective glazing with a soft rag or fine lint free duster to remove surface dust. Clean the glazing surface regularly with the proper cleaner. CAUTION - Spray the appropriate cleaner on a soft cloth first not the surface of the framed piece, to avoid pooling and damage to the frame, mat, and art.
To avoid damage to your glazing, do not use abrasive soaps or any commercial glass cleaner that contains ammonia or alcohol. Wipe the surface gently with a slightly moist sponge or soft rag. Dry with a soft, lint-free rag. Do not wet or clean the print directly. With a minimum of care, your custom-framed artwork will provide you with a rewarding viewing experience for many years to come.
Room or special lighting can enhance the viewing experience. Make every attempt to keep the amount of light even across the entire image. But, if that's not possible, make sure the centre of the image is well lit. Enjoy your pictures, but turn the lights off at night or when you are not in the room. Your print will last longer and you'll save energy! Do not use "picture lights" designed to attach to frames. In addition to over-lighting, these cause local heating that is also damaging to works of art.
Cleaning and Caring for Canvas Art
If cared for properly, a work of canvas art will yield a lifetime of richly textured beauty, vivid colours and fantastic detail. To ensure your canvas art remains as beautiful as the first day it arrived, the following care and cleaning tips are recommended:
Do not lean the image against anything - doing so may cause stretching or puckering of the canvas.
If you notice a dust build-up on your canvas work of art, you can lightly dust it with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. Electrostatic dust cloths and feather dusters also work well. You shouldn't need to dust more than once every few years.
Never, ever use water to clean your canvas artwork. Water droplets may bead and permanently damage the canvas.
Do not use solvents or cleaners of any kind on your canvas art print. If an original artwork is very dirty and needs to be cleaned, please seek out professional help.
When carrying canvas art, it's best to hold the artwork by the frame or the outer edge of the stretcher bars. If you loop your fingers under the stretcher bars, you may inadvertently "stretch" the painting away from the stretcher.
Hang your canvas art in an area with moderate temperature and humidity levels.
Extreme heat, cold, humidity, temperature fluctuations and poor air circulation may damage your artwork or cause it to warp.
Avoid hanging your canvas art in direct sunlight. Giclée prints use only the highest-quality fade-resistant inks, but when exposed to direct sunlight they will fade over time. This can also affect oils and acrylics too, but there is a far greater danger of the picture drying out and cracking.
General Care for CANVAS Originals and Giclée art prints
Changes in relative humidity and temperature can cause sagging, even to the originals. Always clean your canvas artwork with a dry, lint free cloth or very soft brush. Never use a wet or moist cloth to clean your canvas art print.
Storage for Canvas Originals and Giclée art prints
Store your original artwork, canvas or paper art print in an environment that is controlled for both humidity and temperature. Ideally the temperature would be 70 degrees with 55% humidity. High humidity can cause what is called yellow blooming. Keep all Giclée prints away from solvent-based materials such as oil paints and linseed oil, as these vapours can also cause yellowing.
Store your stretched pieces upright, not stacked, and all prints and water colours should be interleaved with acid free paper dividers and never stored with any weight on top of them. Avoid letting tape come in contact with a coated print, this can cause it to peel. Taking extra care of your artwork initially, will allow you to enjoy your fine art for many years.
If you are storing a canvas artwork, do not lean the art print image against anything - this will cause stretching or puckering of the canvas.
Caring for Giclée Prints on Canvas
Keep the canvas print out of bright or direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will fade any surface over time. The varnish coating provides excellent protection but handle the print with care.
If you notice a dust build-up on your canvas work of art, you can lightly dust it with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. Electrostatic dust cloths and fine feather dusters also work well. You shouldn't need to dust more than once every few years.
Never, ever use water to clean your canvas artwork. Water droplets may bead and permanently damage the canvas. Do not use solvents or cleaners of any kind on your canvas art print.
Never fold or crease a print. This could crack the print surface.
Please don't let this guide frighten you, a well-loved, well cared for artwork will serve you well.
Caring for Bronze Sculpture
Most bronze used in casting sculptures today is composed of 95% copper. Because of this, bronze castings and their patina finishes tend to darken with age. Proper care can help maintain the beautiful patina surface that originally graced your sculpture.
Bronzes that are placed indoors require minimal maintenance. Many newer bronze finishes have been sealed with a synthetic lacquer finish and subsequently sealed with a coat of wax, producing a shiny wax finish. A thorough dusting and wiping away fingerprints with a clean, dry, cotton cloth are usually the only basic maintenance required.
Dusting periodically with a dry, soft cloth or small brush reduces build-up. You can use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner, as long as the sculpture does not have any loose pieces that might be pulled away. If a bronze is very dirty or grimy, with caked-on residue (sometimes the case with outdoor sculpture or a piece that has been in storage), it can be carefully cleaned with a solution of a mild dishwashing detergent (soap will leave a residue; any cleaner containing abrasives will damage the surface, as will harsh chemicals) and distilled water.
Test a less obtrusive area first, using a cotton swab (to make sure none of the surface patina is removed). Let it dry thoroughly and check the surface. Continue cleaning the entire surface, using swabs and cotton pads (discard when they become saturated with grime - you do not want to redeposit it).
After cleaning is completed, rinse thoroughly by going over the surface with distilled water on a cotton pad to be sure all of the detergent is removed. If the sculpture is an outdoor installation, you can use a hose and a gentle spray to rinse.
Dry the piece completely, making certain no moisture remains in crevices - a hair dryer set on low is an excellent tool. As this cleaning will have removed any protective wax, you may want to reapply some to an indoor sculpture. An outdoor piece will definitely need protection.
Suggested waxes include Renaissance Wax (a pure microcrystalline wax that will not yellow, available at some art supply stores or online) there are others, but be sure not to use one that contains any cleaning agent. Apply a very thin coat with a soft clean cotton cloth, being sure to cover the entire surface. (Using too much wax does not harm the bronze, but it will accumulate in the crevices and be difficult to remove.) Allow the wax to dry for several hours, out of the sun or strong light (outdoors, do this in a shaded area, or in the late afternoon after the sun is no longer bright). When the wax is dry, buff the bronze by hand, using another clean, soft cotton cloth. More coats of wax may be added, if a shinier effect is desired.
Additional coats will not harm the bronze. In a highly humid climate, or an environment with a higher degree of air pollution - a large city, or a location near industry, you may wish to clean and wax more frequently. Observation of the surface of the bronze will be your best guide.
Waxing once a year with a super thin coat of Renaissance Wax is recommended. Never use spray or liquid furniture polishes to dust or clean a bronze sculpture. These polishes may contain oils, which could damage the original patina finish.
Antique Bronze Finishes
Most older bronzes, that have been indoors, already have darkened patina finishes that have become stabilized by time. It is not necessary to clean and re-wax these surfaces as often.
Waxing an older patina may disturb the overall character of the long acquired antique beauty. These should be evaluated by a qualified conservationist who specializes in this area. Attempts by others, to clean or wax antique bronzes, may decrease their value and damage their finishes.
Caring for Silver Jewellery
As a natural material, silver reacts with its environment, especially the chemicals in the air and, over time, silver does become tarnished. This doesn't mean that your fabulous new piece of jewelry is defective, far from it, it just proves that your beautiful accessory is good quality silver.
It's very easy to get your silver jewellery back to its former glory and, like most things, the earlier you catch the tarnish the easier it is to get rid of it. When tarnish starts to turn any colour from yellowy brown to black you may have to get it professionally cleaned.
You can clean your mildly tarnished silver at home with Sterling Silver dips - but you do need to be careful! The dips, while very effective at removing tarnish, are equally as effective at removing the colour and polish off gemstones. It's a good rule not to dip any jewellery with stones, but gemstones that are particularly affected are pearls, sodalite, malachite, lapis lazuli, white opals, turquoise or any soft or porous stones.
Also remember not to leave your jewellery in the dip too long and don't rinse it off with cold water otherwise you could find your jewellery gets a white residue which can be as hard to remove as the tarnish. To make sure your jewellery stays perfect, always read the manufacturer's instructions.
To clean untarnished silver (and keep it that way), use a phosphate-free detergent or non-abrasive cloth made for cleaning jewellery - these cloths should come with a built in jewellery cleaner.
There are also some preventative steps you can take - so that you won't have to worry about tarnished silver. Cleaning your silver regularly is one way to avoid it but you can also avoid tarnish by wearing your jewellery often. Just be careful that when you're wearing your silver that you don't expose it to household chemicals, hair products, perfumes, cosmetics, perspiration, rubber, latex, chlorinated water or direct sunlight.
Avoiding (or at least reducing) tarnish is easy, just make sure you put your make-up, perfume and hairspray on before you put your jewellery on - and take off your silver jewelry before you go swimming and sunbathing. Getting dressed just like your granny used to, with jewellery last, has more than just quaint traditionalism to recommend it - it's a habit that'll help keep your jewellery sparkling and beautiful.
gallery h is situated in the lake district, arnside, cumbria