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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

  Conservation Corner Back

Keeping paper flat - Dos and Don'ts

by Rebecca Pavitt
Conservator, Pacific Conservators
Vancouver, BC

Ripples caused by tight frame

Paper may start out flat, but it rarely stays that way. A stray crease, curl, fold or ripple can easily distort a once smooth surface. For most of the paper in our lives, these flaws scarcely matter. But how do we protect valuable artworks from similar damage? The first and best protection is, of course, prevention. Gentle handling, flat storage (forget those mailing tubes!) and protective sleeves, folders and storage boxes can eliminate most curl, crease and fold problems. These can also help reduce the undulations and ripples which occur when paper expands and contracts with changes in Relative Humidity (RH) and temperature. Artworks on display depend on the framing system for protection. Matboards and backboards buffer the effects of humidity changes by helping to absorb and desorb water vapour, while the front glazing helps block the entry and exit of water vapour. Artworks going into extreme or fluctuating environments can be given additional protection by placing special sheets of silica gel (Artsorb), conditioned to a specific RH, into a sealed framing package. Frames must be large enough to allow the artwork to expand and contract with normal fluctuations of humidity. Raising the front glazing from the surface of the art with spacers or window mats gives paper room to move naturally. Tight frames can cause ripples by forcing the expanding paper to crush into itself. (See illustration). All too often, art on paper is pasted down or dry mounted in an effort to keep unruly sheets flat. At best, the result looks lifeless and dead. At worst, the paper actually pulls away from the restraint, in uneven pockets of separation. When the artist clearly intends the paper to lie flat, less drastic methods than overall mounting can be used. In these cases the artwork is edged or backed with thin Japanese tissue, and the edges of the tissue pasted to a rigid, archival quality backing board. This allows the artwork to move, while keeping it in place. (See illustration). Paper has a subtle, three-dimensional beauty which complements the overlying media, but it is easily marred. Careful handling, storage and display will protect these fragile supports from damage. Edge mounting allows paper to move.

Edge mounting allows paper to move

©Rebecca Pavitt

Previous issue: Hutton Quilt Conservation by Joan Marshall

Next issue: Conserving Time by Cheryle Harrison

 Fri, Feb 1, 2008