Category Archives: Conservation

Archival-Style Supplies

Each Fall I seem to have a run of bookings for talks and hands-on workshops at various organizations. This blog is in response to questions asked at recent events!

How to achieve museum-style archival wrapping with affordable supplies purchased locally.

You may wish to wrap items with:

  • Card folder, taped at who sides
  • Card book cover, closed with Velcro button
  • Encapsulated Mylar sleeve, closed on three sizes with double-sided tape
  • Photograph sleeves and albums
  • Tubes to roll textiles
  • Bankers boxes
  • Acid free file folders, sleeves, envelopes
  • Tissue papers

Acid free card/art paper – Michael’s, Curry’s, Maggiolly Art in Orangeville.

Strathmore art paper series 500 is best, but series 300 acceptable and acid free.

Artist tape (to close the sides of a folder), made by Artist’s Loft, a non-staining and PH neutral tape….  spotted at Michael’s.

Normal poster tubes and coat hangers can be used for textiles, they need to be wrapped and covered with acid free tissue or white unbleached cotton. Covers in similar fabric.

Photograph albums and sleeves marked PHP neutral, lignin and PVC free are available at Michael’s.

** A note of caution from my Museum colleagues.  When purchasing albums and paper in stores, you will see many are made in China. Although marked as PVC free etc., be mindful to keep an eye on the plastic over time, if it yellows it will need to be replaced, as it may have degraded and off-gas. Not all is, as it seems in this modern world. **

Pigment pens can be found in art stores. They are permanent archival ink, use with caution, but the ink will not permeate to through to objects.

Storage boxes are best from Carr McLean, various sizes and types. Some are buffered (for extra protection, and use with wool items  etc)

Archival quality file folders, tissues, PHP testing pens, and envelopes are also best from museum suppliers, Carr McLean, Brodart, Currys etc. Have fun searching on the archival sections of these websites.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I discovered Mylar map protectors to use for encapsulating at Carr McLean. A perfect weight and size.

So, use everything with care….  no ink, sticky, or cutting near the artifacts please!



Wrap & Pack Your Family Heirlooms

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!