Category Archives: Conservation

Preserving A 1970s Music Poster Prompts Memories

12th National Jazz Blues and Rock Festival, Reading

Do you have old posters rolled up and stored in tubes?  If yes, then it’s time to flatten them out. Paper holds its form and becomes permanently curled if stored rolled up for too long.

After flattening and weighting this poster, (a museum colleague used to call this ‘relaxing’ the artifact) I have encapsulated it with Mylar (inert acid free, non-sticky plastic) front, with an acid free card backing.

This encapsulation will keep the poster flat, and protect it from the environment.

Reading Festival 1975

What is the story behind this poster? This artifact prompted many memories for me.

…. and just look at the price!

“Portsmouth Airport, Reading Festivals, George Melly and Mud!”

The 1975 line-up included George Melly (1926-2007) and the Feet Warmers, who later performed at the Portmouth Arts and Festival in 1979, when I worked in the Festival office. We had brought “The Waverley” an operational paddle-boat to Portsmouth and five jazz bands performed on board.

I have many memories of Reading Festivals. I first one I attended was in August 1973. Traveling to the event was an adventure – that I undertook alone!  I had just returned from visiting a friend in Guernsey, arriving back to the long-gone Portsmouth airport.

This tiny airport in the centre of the City (Island of Portsmouth), closed in December 1973. The first flight I took on my own, was usual. To get board the plane, we were each given a number, and had to enter via a specific doors when called, ie one and five in this door, two and eight over there etc. I was further surprised when the air hostess, left the plane after giving her talk about emergency exists and life jackets!

Arriving safely back in Portsmouth, I caught a train from Portchester village station to Reading, then walked to the festival ground. To meet up with my friends, I was to find a rented Southern Self Drive pale blue Ford Transit van.  Well, I couldn’t believe just how many similar vans were there! It was Friday evening, and the bands were still playing so I waited at the exit gate and watched as hoards of people poured out.  I was beginning to believe that I would spend the night alone curled up with only the blanket I had bought with me…. then, I saw a very tall chap with a mop of curly hair towering above the other heads…. Lucky for me it, was a friend’s brother and I was able to connect with my buddies.

Among the many live music outdoor festivals Knebworth, Milton Keynes, Donnington Park, Blackbush, and more….  I attended Reading several times.

Another memory… in 1977 the weather was particularly wet, even for England! That year my transport was on the back of a motorbike. The camp ground was soggy and wet, making camping in tents and keeping the bike standing upright a challenge.

The concert grounds turned into liquid mud several feet deep. The heel of my boot broke off, and we had to watch out for glass bottles and beer cans under the layers of mud built up each day. There was no sitting down to watch the music that year! The festival management kindly handed out two black bin-liners with pieces of string to us all. These acted as make-shift waders!  I found this image on the internet, and sharing it below, for fun!

Fond memories…..


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!