Archive for the ‘Fine Art Care & Maintenance’ Category

Packing Fine Art for Shipment

In Fine Art, Fine Art Care & Maintenance, Fine Art Packing & Shipping, Uncategorized on August 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Packing fine art for shipment depends on the specific art materials being shipped.  Here are a few recommendations that can help you to properly pack your fine art object for safe and secure shipment.

Always clean the art object before wrapping and packing. Also be sure to check for any damage or blemishes. Your client is expecting new, undamaged work in pristine condition.

Glass is the most vulnerable to breakage damage and should be double wrapped in bubble wrap, set in foam peanuts inside an inner box, and double boxed (inner box inside an outer box) with foam peanuts surrounding the inner box.  Use strong, corrugated cardboard for both boxes.  Secure the inner box with clear packing tape (non-reinforced tape is OK for the inner box).  Secure the outer box for shipping with strong, reinforced packing tape.  Continuously tape all joints and add perpendicular tape across the joints that are able to be opened. Lastly, place reinforcing tape in an “X” pattern across the center of the joint on each of the two sides of the box that are able to be opened.

Be sure to mark or label the package as “FRAGILE – HANDLE WITH CARE” to alert the handlers during the shipping process.  If recycling a shipping box, be sure to remove all labels, and cover all imprints, from the previous shipping.  If the package has an “UP” side that matters, mark it so (such as “THIS SIDE UP”).  If there is an intended sequence of opening the package for the recipient to follow, mark it as well (such as “OPEN THIS SIDE FIRST”).  If normal tools for opening the package put the contents at risk of damage, mark as the box so (such as “OPEN WITHOUT CUTTING OR PUNCTURING”).

If there are multiple parts to the art object, wrap each part separately to avoid contact during shipping. Use the foam peanuts (or other protective packing materials) to make positive pressure within the shipping container, to maintain separation between the multiple packages, and to prevent shifting of contents.

Protect the finished surface of paintings from any contact with packing materials.  Do not wrap them in bubble wrap or immerse them in foam peanuts.  Shipping conditions may be very hot, and packing materials can wind up sticking to the painting and leaving imprints after removal.  Position and secure the painting(s) in the shipping container with corrugated cardboard face protection and corners protection.  Use polyethylene film protection if moisture is a concern.  Any tape used to affix the cardboard or film protection to the painting must only contact the back side of the painting – not the front or edges, especially painted edges for frameless display.  Tapes can leave adhesive behind after removal.  Worse yet, they can remove some of the artist’s paint when lifted from the surface.  When placing more than one painting in a shipping container, put the paintings back to back, or protected face to protected face.  Be sure that no hanging hardware comes in contact with an adjacent painting’s face.  For shock resistance for the package contents, if the art work is unsecured in a corrugated carboard box for shipment, use bubble wrap and/or foam peanuts around the painting after face and edge protection is in place.  If using a wood crate, with wood shelves, braces, grooves and/or notches to secure the painting in place, bubble wrap and foam peanuts are not needed.

Heavy pieces, like stone and bronze, are boxed in a wood crate or else you risk failure of a corrugated cardboard shipping container. Design the crate to hold the art object(s) firmly in place, with wood bracing or expanded foam, allowing no shifting of the crate contents and no contact between multiple parts or works within the crate. Assemble and secure the crate for shipping with wood screws.

Blunt any sharp ended object with a piece of foam to avoid the sharp end puncturing the packaging. Any tape used in the wrapping of art objects must only affix to the packing material, never to the art object itself, to avoid any adhesive coming in contact with the surface of the art object.

Be sure to include written instructions for the art work assembly (if required) and installation. If the art work requires special hanging or mounting hardware, include such hardware  in the shipment. If the art work requires special care for maintenance, such instructions should also be included.  It is also a nice gesture to include the artist’s information (bio, statement, marketing brochure, or whatever else is available) for the purchaser to learn more about the artist whose work is in the shipment.

Include a notice with instructions of what the recipient should do if the art work arrives damaged to keep the insurance coverage in force for a damage claim. This includes actions to take (such as photographing the damage to the work as well as to the shipping container) and persons or business entities to contact. Also important is a time limit for the claim. One shipper that we use has a sixty day time limit for the shipper to make the claim, so the recipient needs to make the claim to the shipper within ten days of receipt to allow for the shipper to receive the returned object from the recipient, send it out to the artist for a repair quote, receive the repair quote and prepare and submit the claim.

Shippers need to know the size (3 dimensions in inches) and weight of the package.  They also need to know the value if you are going to insure it and the zip code of its destination to quote you a shipping price.  Shop several shippers… you may be surprised at the differences in prices.

If all of this seems daunting to you, remember that there are commercial shippers who also are professionals at packing what they ship.  For a price, they can do it all for you –  pick up, pack and ship the art work, insured if you like.


Care of Art Glass

In Fine Art Care & Maintenance, Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm

You have purchased a work of glass fine art or a painting, print or other work protected by a pane of glass.  As you prepare to display the work, you want it to look its best, and after you display it, you want to maintain that clean, like-new look.  So how do you care for art glass?

At the Marshall-LeKae Gallery, we offer buyers of art glass some instructions for the care of that glass that I’ll share with you as follows:

  1. Care of Sandblasted (Frosted) Glass: If the piece looks dry, or lacks luster, put a few drops of baby (mineral) oil on a clean rag and gently rub over the surface of the glass.  Wipe off excess with a clean, dry rag.  Clean shiny portions of the glass with a little glass cleaner such as “Windex“.
  2. Care of Clear Glass: If the piece looks dirty or shows fingerprints, spray lightly with a glass cleaner such as “Windex” and wipe with a clean paper towel.  Wipe off any excess cleaner or streaks with a dry, clean paper towel. Repeat as necessary.
  3. Care of Museum Glass: The glass cover on the front of framed fine art is normally museum glass.  There is a special film on the glass (like that used on eye-glasses) that reduces or eliminates glare and reflections.  This film will scratch if not handled with care.  It can also be damaged if cleaned with harsh chemicals or ammonia-based glass cleaners.  The pads sold by optometrists for cleaning eye-glasses are good for safe cleaning, as are the liquid cleaning agents sold with them.  If a minor spot (such as a fingerprint) occurs, often a very soft, clean, dry cloth will buff it out with little effort.  If the glass is more spotted or soiled, use the optometrist cleaning pads or a damp (water only) clean cloth carefully dabbing and lifting so not to smear the spot any further.   Once the spot is removed, buff over the area with a soft, clean, dry cloth to remove any residue.

Follow these tips and you should be able to keep your art glass looking like new for many years of enjoyment.

How to Hang Art on a Wall

In Fine Art, Fine Art Care & Maintenance, Fine Art Installation, Uncategorized on July 6, 2010 at 12:32 am

You have purchased a wonderful work of fine art and are ready to hang it on a wall for its best possible display.  Now what?  Here’s how to hang a single work of fine art on a wall using centerlines.

1.  Your first consideration is where (on what wall) to hang the art.  Ask yourself these questions that will help you make the right decision:

  • Are there adjacent architectural elements that it must center on or within, such as a wall recess, wall opening, overhead arch, or built-in lighting fixture(s)?  Or, must it align vertically or horizontally with the centerline(s) of other adjacent artwork?  If you intend to display the work centered, or symmetrical about a centerline, a centerline hanging method is the best way to install the artwork.
  • Must it align vertically and/or horizontally with the edge(s) of some other element?  If so, an edge line approach is the best way to ensure proper alignment.  I’ll discuss that approach in another blog.

2.  Once that you have answered the above questions, you know on what wall, and where on that wall,  you will be hanging the art.  Now you need to gather the tools that you will need for the installation:

  • Hardware: The hardware that will support the art work is the most critical item.  It must accept the hanging hardware already installed on the back of the artwork (typically wire, hooks or cleats) and must carry the weight of the artwork.  It also must be designed for the wall construction that it will penetrate and anchor into (typically wood, drywall, steel or concrete).  To keep the plumb and level installation over time, I recommend two hangers, unless the artwork is small (less than 12-inches) in hanging width.
  • Wall Anchors: When the hanger fasteners are screwed into drywall, “wallboard anchors” will help the screw to anchor into the drywall.  For smaller screws, the plastic type that are driven into a smaller diameter hole that is pre-drilled in the drywall will work fine.  For larger diameter screws, the zinc type that screw into the smaller diameter, pre-drilled hole are stronger.
  • Toggle Bolts: If the artwork is heavy, and you must anchor to drywall without being able to screw into a wood stud behind the drywall, you can use through bolts with toggle nuts to grab the backside of the drywall and distribute the load.  In such case you will pre-drill a hole that is large enough diameter for the folded toggle nut to pass through.  The toggle nut then opens after passing through the drywall and snugs up against the back of the drywall as you tighten the through bolt.
  • Tools to drive the hangers’ fastening hardware (usually nails or screws) into the wall.  A hammer (if nails) or a screwdriver (if screws), either Phillips or Flat Head to match the screw heads.  For heavy-duty installations, I recommend a corded power drill  where screws are used.  If pre-drilled holes are used for wall board anchors, the drill is necessary for pre-drilling the holes in the drywall.
  • Layout tools, including a level (with both vertical and horizontal level indicators), a tape measure (with a brake) and a pencil to locate and mark the exact points where the hangers are to be fastened to the wall.  A particularly useful tool is a 24″ long level with the markings of a ruler along one edge.
  • A step stool or ladder if the artwork installation will be at the limit of, or beyond, your comfortable reach range.

3.  Preliminary Precautions:

  • Be sure to clear anything that could be broken or damaged by falling items from below the installation before beginning the work.  It’s too easy to drop a tool, hanger or fastener during the installation process.
  • If using a nearby tabletop or countertop as a work surface, or a hearth or furniture to stage from, be sure to put a protective cover over the surface to protect it from damage by the tools, your work and any falling debris.
  • With these precautions taken, and the necessary hardware and tools in hand, you can now begin the installation.

4.  Determine the viewing height of the work of art.  This is the vertical height (above the finished floor surface) location of the center of the artwork being viewed.

  • Most commonly this height is set at eye level for those who will likely view the work. For example, if the work is to be viewed in your home, measure the height of your eyes above the floor that you are standing on, and the height of the eyes of others who live with you, find the average height and use this for installing the artwork.  A generally acceptable standard is 5′-0″ (60 inches), although the general range is 58 to 62 inches, above the finished floor surface.
  • Alternatively, if the artwork’s horizontal centerline is to align with the horizontal centerline of an adjacent work, object or opening, the viewing height is set by that existing condition.

5.  Determine the vertical hanging height of the work of art.  This is the height where the wall attachment hangers will be installed.

  • Measure the overall height of the artwork and divide that by two.
  • Measure the distance from the hanging hardware (usually a wire or hook) on the back of the artwork to the top of the artwork.  If the hanging hardware is a wire, measure it at full tension with either one or two intended hanger locations however you intend to hang the artwork.
  • Take the viewing height, add to it one-half of the overall height of the artwork and then subtract from that sum the distance from the hanging hardware to the top of the artwork.  The remainder is the vertical hanging height of the wall attachment hangers above the finished floor surface that the viewer will stand on.

6.  Determine the horizontal viewing position of the work.  This is the center of the object where it will be viewed relative to other objects and/or elements to its left and right sides, such as adjacent art work, door or wall opening  jambs, wall corners or sides of an architectural recess.

  • Most commonly this position is determined by locating the vertical centerline between two (left and right) objects or edges (of wall openings, door jambs or other adjacent artwork).
  • Alternatively, this centerline may need to align with the vertical centerline of an object(s) or wall openings above and/or below where the artwork is to be displayed.  In such case, the horizontal viewing position is determined by these existing conditions.

7. Make a light pencil cross mark on the wall where the vertical hanging height (a horizontal mark) intersects with the horizontal viewing position (a vertical mark).  This is the vertical and horizontal center of the hanging location.

  • If one hanger is used to attach the artwork to the wall, this is the location point of that hanger.
  • If two hangers are used, they should each be placed the same distance horizontally, in opposite directions (left and right), from this location point.
  • If two hangers are used because the artwork has two hooks on its back (instead of a wire), measure the horizontal distance between the vertical center lines of the hooks on the back of the artwork, divide by two, and position each of the two wall attachment hangers this distance horizontally in opposite directions (left and right) from the cross mark at the vertical and horizontal center of the hanging position.

8.  Install the wall attachment hangers.  If using a fastener (nail or screw) supported hook, be sure to position the bottom of the hook on the hanging location mark, not the nail or the screw.

9. Hang the artwork on the hangers.

  • Use two persons for the installation if the artwork is larger or heavier than one person can handle comfortably and safely.
  • If installing with two hangers, install the artwork over one hanger at a time.
  • Ease the artwork into its final position without releasing support of the artwork, until you are certain that the hangers and their fasteners are fully and safely supporting the artwork.
  • If a hanger or fastener fails, you have protected the artwork from falling and you can then remove the artwork and replace the hanger or fastener with a stronger one.

10.  Using the level, adjust the artwork so that it is plumb and level.  If it is not plumb and level, remove the artwork, adjust the hangers as needed and re-hang the artwork plumb and level.

11.  Provide and adjust the lighting as needed to properly enhance the display. I’ll talk more about lighting the artwork in another blog.

12.  Clean up any mess created by the installation work, and re-position any items that were moved aside for precautionary reasons.

Now enjoy your fine art to the fullest, as it is displayed for the most appreciation and enjoyment!