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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.

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Check Out the “Huggmee” Chair!

In Furniture & Accessories, Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Huggmee Chair

Pete Splingaerd has designed the patent-pending “Huggmee” chair that is great for reading and lounging. It is perfect for libraries, reading rooms, waiting rooms, lounges, coffee shops and any other area, public or private, where people sit for periods of time such as to read, wait, lounge or visit. The design allows for multiple comfortable positions so that the users can reposition themselves multiple times to stay comfortable.

To see the Huggmee Chair, go to http://www.huggmee.com.  If you would like more information, contact me at hluthero@gmail.com.

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.

Diptych, Triptych, Say What?

In Fine Art, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 19, 2010 at 10:40 pm
The bell as depicted in fine art: This triptyc...

Triptych Image via Wikipedia

A couple of fine art terms that you may hear commonly used around an art gallery or an art show are “diptych” and “triptych“.  Just what do these terms mean?

Diptych and triptych are terms used in the fine art world to refer to works of art that consist  of two or three panels respectively  The terms derive from the historic words for ancient tablets consisting of more than one page and most commonly hinged together.  Today, in fine art circles, the terms apply to works of art, including paintings, carvings, photography, glass and other media, where the completed work consists of more than one panel and the panels are designed to display next to each other, although not necessarily (or even normally) hinged or otherwise connected.

Fused Glass Diptych by Christina Lynn Johnson

A diptych or triptych is a single work of fine art consisting of more than one panel, and is not complete unless both or all three of the panels are displayed together.  The artist intends the work as such, and the panels that make up the composition are not intended for display or sale individually.  Otherwise the two or three panels are simply two or three individual works of art.

However, some artists will create such work with the intention that the two or three panels can be displayed and sold either way, as a single composition or individually, whatever the art buyer prefers. In the fine art world, as in so many other realms of activity, nothing is absolute!

What’s an Encaustic Painting?

In Encaustic Painting, Fine Art, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 11, 2010 at 1:35 am

Perhaps you have visited a fine art gallery and seen some interesting paintings labeled as “encaustic on panel” or “encaustic and oil”.  Just what does “encaustic” mean?  Here’s a brief introduction.

Encaustic painting uses a thermoplastic process (medium is softened to liquid when heated, hardened to solid when cooled) that uses wax, usually 90-95% clear beeswax mixed with 5-10% damar resin (a hardener), melted to liquid state and then mixed with quality dry pigments and applied to a rigid panel, most typically wood or hardboard.  The damar resin additive raises the melting temperature so the wax is less susceptible to heat damage,  allows the encaustic to cure and harden over time so it is more durable, and prevents “blooming” (a whitish haze that can appear on the surface of a painting). Resin also results in a harder surface for polishing of the encaustic to a high gloss.  The  process repeats in layers until the final image is complete.  Then the final image is carefully heated to fuse the layers together into a fully integrated whole.

The thermoplastic, fluid nature of encaustic is conducive to variety of application techniques and methods of manipulation.  A distinctive benefit of encaustic painting is its durability due to the impervious (to moisture) characteristic of beeswax.  Encaustic paintings do not need a glass cover or a protective top coating, and are very resistant to fading, yellowing and cracking.  Encaustic painting is also a very clean process that is free of chemicals, solvents and the fumes associated with them.

I’ve found some very good descriptions of the encaustic technique of painting at the following websites that I recommend for you to read to gain a better understanding of this process:

The last link above provides a helpful set of FAQ answers that address encaustic paint durability.

What’s a “Giclee” Print?

In Fine Art Prints, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

You may have heard galleries or artists refer to prints of 2-dimensional fine art as “giclees” and wondered why they didn’t just call them prints.  It’s not just a fancy term that is synonymous with print.  It refers to a particular high quality type of print.   In short, “Giclee” is just a fancy term for a high quality ink-jet print, made from a digital image, that uses fade resistant archival inks and papers.
Turn your digital photos into canvas giclee prints

Here’s a more detailed description:

The term giclee (pronounced “jhee-clay”) comes from the French word “le gicleur” meaning “nozzle”, or more specifically, “gicler” meaning “to squirt, spurt, or spray”.  It was selected to describe this type of print because the image produced on the print papers is sprayed on with pigments by nozzles in the printing process.

photo of the epson stylus pro 9600 large format giclee printer

A large-format, ink jet printer, as used for the printing of giclees.

A giclee, as a fine art term, means a high quality reproduction of an original, 2-dimensional work of art (such as a painting, drawing or photograph) made from a digital source using a high quality ink-jet printing process with fade-resistant, archival quality inks printed on archival quality fine art paper or canvas. This process, that evolved in the 1990’s, is different, higher quality and more expensive than the earlier process traditionally used for fine art prints that was the four-color, offset lithography process.  Offset lithography prints and are still common today, particularly for large volume printing projects, but the giclee process digital print has become the standard for high quality fine art reproductions.  The process continues to evolve as technology advances.

I found some very good descriptions of the giclee history and process at the following websites that I recommend reading to gain a better understanding of this topic:

Sometimes an artist will use a giclee print and add some paint to it to give it more of the look and feel of an original painting, or to change the look of an original painting to meet the request of a buyer.  A “paint enhanced giclee” or “hybrid giclee/painting” is still based on a reproduction of an original and is priced much less than the one-of-a-kind original.

Now when someone refers to a giclee, you’ll know exactly what they are talking about.  Perhaps you’ll even know a little more about giclees than they do!

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!

Fine Art Placement

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Whether you are a homeowner, a business owner or a fine art collector, how  you place your fine art acquisition is important to you to make the best possible display of the work of art in your setting.  Many considerations come into play once you have the fine art in the site where you intend to place it.  Anything less than the best placement risks less enjoyment of the work, and, in the worst case, return of the work due to dissatisfaction.

At The Marshall-LeKae Gallery, we realize that it is important to give professional placement and installation advice to our clients when they buy fine art from us.  We have employed a full-time, professional architect / interior designer to recommend the proper placement and installation of the fine art that is available through our gallery.  We offer this service  for our local fine art buyers at no cost and it benefits both the fine art purchaser and the artist who created the work.

Our in-house design professional provides fine art placement advice about color combinations and proximity, artificial and natural lighting, aesthetic considerations for placement and installation techniques.  Our representative can suggest various alternatives for placement and can install the fine art on site for our local clients.

Yes, the fine art itself is wonderful, like a fine gourmet meal that is thoroughly enjoyed.  But in both cases, proper presentation enhances the experience.  Place your fine work of art properly and maximize your enjoyment.

Hello Fine Art World!

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Herm Otto is a licensed architect with a national certification (NCARB) and former interior design faculty at a FIDER accredited interior design program at a university.  I have chosen to use my architectural and interior design background to move into the arena of fine art advocacy as a gallery and artist representative.  My career now includes inside and outside sales of fine art with the ongoing goal of placing the art in interior or exterior settings that result in the aesthetically pleasing display that the art and art patron deserve.  In support of this activity, I’m beginning this blog for and about fine art, the galleries that display it, the artists that create it and the patrons that support it.