If you are the designated keeper of your family’s heirlooms, you may wish to gather some knowledge on how best to store them. I feel it is our job to conserve items in the condition they are in, and to help prevent any further deterioration. The overall aim is to keep items from being destroyed by the environment, or by each other. This subject can be technical and complicated, so I’ll try to keep things simple!
Unwrapped items can be affected by moth, bugs, damp, mould. Placing items directly against wooden drawers can also be harmful.
A simple list of what NOT to do might include: avoid damp basements and barns, avoid wrapping items in newspaper or coloured papers, avoid sticky tape, don’t encapsulate, avoid sunlight….. and more.
During my time as Collections Manager at the museum we turned to the Canadian Conservation Institute for guidance. Their scientist and specialists produce a useful set of CCI Notes which described how best to store, clean and care for your artifacts (to museum standards). The wording can be a little technical, but some useful links might be:
Often the best advice is to make acid free covers and boxes, but sourcing the supplies to do this as a private individual can be expensive. For instance minimum orders of 20 point library card, rolls of Mylar or tissue can cost up to $1000. Here I am sharing some affordable items I found locally:
Cotton gloves – Shopper’s Drug Mart (medical) – $2.50
PH Testing Pens – Lines N’ Curves or Brodart (online) – $8
Acid Free Glassine (strong tissue for wrapping and inter-leafing) – Lines N’ Curves (online) packet 100, 16″ x 20″ – $35
Acid Neutral Library Board (strong wrapping card/paper for covers and boxing books) – Michael’s Art Store, Strathmore Artist Papers, Bristol Sheet 500 series, buffered has no ground wood or unbleached pulp, limits of metallic content, free from optical brighteners, a suitable substitute – $5
Mylar safe inert plastic map sheets – Carr McLean (online) for non-sticky encapsulation/protective covers, packet of 5 – $50
Coated Storage Boxes – protective banker’s boxes with lids – Carr McLean (online) – $25 each
Textiles may be store flat in clean white cotton pillow cases. Hanging items can be covered with a clean white cotton sheet. Avoid wrapping in plastic.
Here’s a start…. I’ll go into more detail in the next few posts!