The Joy Of Art: Caring For Your Collection
How to care for your art
Many of our clients at Extreme are art lovers who often seek out advice on the best ways to care for their collection. Although we are, first and foremost, designers of luxury kitchens, we want to ensure that our clients have the best experience possible when working with us. As such, we have put together this article to advise you on how to care for your art collection.
Whether you’re a true art aficionado with a broad and valuable collection of rare and beautiful pieces, or simply someone with an interest in the subject, looking to dip their toes into the art world, this is for you. One quick word of advice before we begin. Never decorate your kitchen with valuable art. The oil-filled air of your cooking space can severely damage artwork in a relatively short period of time. So, how else can you care for your art?
If the bulk of your artwork is paper-based, there are a number of things you should be doing to keep it looking at its best. The first step is to ensure that the artwork is framed correctly. The style of the frame used isn’t particularly important – though a complementary frame can have a positive impact on the piece. When it comes to framing, it is important that the frame is well-made and bespoke to a specific piece of art so that no moisture reaches the art itself. Furthermore, you should never cut down a piece to fit it to a frame; this is almost guaranteed to irreparably damage and devalue your art.
In a similar vein to choosing the frame itself, picking the right glass will also have a drastic impact on the quality of your art on display and is important to consider when planning how to care for your art. Many collectors will immediately jump to invest in the old classic of non-glare, museum-quality glass. This is certainly a good option, with the UV protection necessary to protect the work from the sun rays, while the anti-glare quality allows you to view the art with ease – even on the brightest days. However, a better option may be to choose acrylic glass with a UV-protective finish. Acrylic is far less likely to break than standard glass; plus, when cared for correctly, it looks just as good as museum glass.
Once your artwork has been framed correctly, you need to ensure that the piece is mounted in the ideal location. It’s important to keep any paintings out of direct sunlight, major shifts in humidity or extreme temperatures. It is these conditions which will have by far the most prominent negative effect on your artwork. In direct sunlight or in extreme temperatures, you may find that your art begins to fade, crack or even warp out of shape.
When cleaning your frame – whether glass or acrylic – be sure to use a high-quality cleaning solution and a microfibre cloth. Using water to clean will leave marks on the glass, while cleaning with a paper towel rather than a microfibre cloth is likely to cause scratches.
Most of the advice regarding how to care for your paper art – especially keeping it out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures – also applies to canvas art. When ensuring that your canvas art is kept displayed with the highest standards of care, there are some important differences that you should be aware of.
The main difference when caring for canvas over paper is that you should never place a glass frame over canvas. Unlike paper, canvas art needs to ‘breathe’, meaning that the canvas itself will shift over time. Under a frame, these shifts can allow moisture to get between the painting and the frame, potentially causing mould to grow on the canvas.
Due to the lack of framing on a canvas piece, the art itself is more open to potential damage. Canvas can easily be scratched or ripped, even by seemingly innocuous objects that would appear harmless – so take extra care when handling canvas. While some canvas art has been designed to be ripped, it’s unlikely that you want it to happen to yours. When it comes to actually cleaning a canvas piece you should only use a soft cloth to remove any dust. Furthermore, to avoid any permanent damage to your canvas, never use liquid cleaners as these can effectively destroy a painting.
With all wall art, canvas or otherwise, you should be sure to check it periodically to ensure that it is in good condition. Periodic checks of your art will ensure that you can identify any signs of damage early on, meaning that you can move to repair it a lot earlier. If your art does get damaged at any point, you should not attempt to repair it yourself as it’s likely that you’ll simply cause more damage and devalue the painting. Instead, if you notice any signs of damage, be sure to take it to the place of purchase or seek out a professional who will be able to complete necessary repairs without causing further damage to the piece.
Marble and alabaster
Beyond paintings, many of our clients are also avid collectors of beautiful sculptures and statues, ranging from classical traditionalism to cutting-edge avant-garde works. Caring for this kind of art is a very different process from caring for paper or canvas-based pieces. To begin with, we’ll address marble and alabaster sculpture, some of the oldest and most popular mediums from which to create art.
Both marble and alabaster are very porous materials which can easily be stained. It is therefore important to keep them out of areas of the home, such as the kitchen, where they could easily be stained. If the worst does happen and you find yourself with a stained marble or alabaster piece of art, take it to a professional to be cleaned.
Attempting to remove a stain by yourself is likely to force the stain deeper or actually erode the sculpture. When routinely cleaning marble or alabaster that’s in good condition, there are numerous home remedies to be tried. Whatever you decide, be sure that you treat the material gently, without rubbing or scraping it to avoid causing excess damage to the art piece.
If your marble or alabaster artwork is in good condition but has faded over the years, it can be livened up using microcrystalline wax. Simply apply a light coat of the wax to the sculpture with a soft-bristled brush and buff it gently with a clean white cloth. This method will make your marble pop with a bright new sheen.
Ceramic and glass
When compared with the other sculpture material on this list, ceramic and glass artwork is relatively easy to care for. The most important thing to remember with artwork in these materials is that they should be handled as infrequently as possible, as this is when any damage is most likely to happen.
If you find yourself in a position where you do need to handle your art, never use your bare hands. Oil and acid from the skin can stain and smudge your artwork, likely causing devaluation. Instead, you should use latex gloves when handling these materials – especially glass. If you don’t have latex gloves to hand, don’t be tempted to use cotton or wool gloves as this increases the likelihood that the artwork will slide out of your hands.
The day to day cleaning of ceramic and glass is a fairly straightforward process and will rarely require the use of any cleaning solutions that could potentially damage your artwork. Instead, for glass and ceramic, you should simply be able to dust them with a soft brush to remove any marks.
No guide on how to take care of your art would be complete without considering how you should store your most prized pieces. If you are the owner of a more substantial collection, you may have works that you don’t intend on displaying all year round. As such, knowing how to store your art can go a long way to preserving the quality of your collection.
Firstly, you should ensure that your art is raised off the floor to allow the air to flow around, decreasing the likelihood of any mould forming. Furthermore, raising your art off the floor will go some lengths to protecting it from any unforeseen water damage.
To protect your stored art from dust, be sure to cover them. Avoid covering your pieces with plastic as this can trap moisture, leading to damage to both the art itself and any frames. Instead, opt for cloth coverings that will allow air to reach your artworks.
If stacking paintings against a wall, ensure that you place them against an interior wall. Once again, this is to prevent moisture from reaching the art as exterior walls can attract a lot of damp. When stacking paintings, insert dividers between each art piece to avoid any scratching to the frames and, more importantly, to alleviate excess pressure being applied to the pieces.
If you are looking to create a kitchen that reflects your artistic spirit then contact the Extreme Design team for a bespoke and collaborative kitchen design service.