Archive for the Category » Taking care of paintings «

Taking care of Paper Art

Sunday, July 12th, 2009 | Author:

One should take measures to handle paper minimally. Handling is a major source of damage to paper. For example, touching can cause the smudging of charcoal or pencil, thus spoiling the paper as well as the image. Touch can have similar effects on pastels. As prints are made on a special kind of paper, which can absorb materials like oils very quickly, so gloves should be worn to avoid having hand stains on the paper. Our hands have oil, salt and sometimes even sweat and paper is a relatively fine absorptive material. Another useful recommendation is to avoid having work of art on papers around the eating, drinking and smoking areas. Also keep your pens, crayons and markers away from your work.

Light has a strong bleaching effect and with the passage of time, the work fades away. Artificial light such as halogen bulbs should be placed at least ten meters away from where the paper art is hanged. Halogen bulbs not only cause discoloration but also damage by overheating the paper and other attached material. Similarly one should not hang such pieces near windows. As paper is an absorptive material, any reflective material over it will reduce the deleterious effects of light, such as covering it with glass or materials such as plastic, which can filter the harmful UV rays.

Some materials are inherently prone to damage or decomposition. Papers synthesized out of wood and iron gall ink are few of such examples. Lignin is the basic component in wood. It decomposes as it complexes to form acidic materials which degrade the paper. Similarly, oak galls and ferrous sulphate that make up iron gall ink eventually release sulphuric acid that further breaks down the fibrous paper.

Pests love paper! A lot of insects and even mice eat away paper. Famous examples are book lice, and bookworms. Pests love cool and dark places. So never store paper art in basements or house attics. If the surface of the paper seems worn out, there is a fair chance that that it is infested with silverfish. Efficient cleaning and housekeeping is the key to avoid such damage.

Detecting fake art

Monday, June 15th, 2009 | Author:

With the advancement in technology, detecting fake art has become possible to a large extent. Over the course of time, the pigments of an old painting become very hard and shrink as well due to which some fine cracks are visible in the painting. These are called as craquelcure. A fake art work however may not dry and crack, like a real old work of art. It depends on the thickness and the treatment of the pigment that is applied. Environmental conditions, history of handling the painting, transportation and restoration of the painting are furnished as a record especially in case of old paintings.


Non destructive techniques that use microscope, radiography and chemical analysis and dating techniques are used to detect an artwork. Even a ten thousand year old art work can be detected for fake art using what is known as the radio carbon dating to measure the age of the painting. Infrared and x-ray photography can detect signatures that cannot be seen by the naked eye. X-ray diffraction is also used to analyze components that make up the artist’s paints. X-ray fluorescence can reveal the artist’s finger prints and the metals present in a sculpture or in the composition of the paints that are used in the painting or the sculpture. 


Another technique known as digital authentication: This technique breaks down a picture into collection of more basic images called as sub bands. These are analyzed to determine the texture by assigning a frequency to each sub band. In this way, there are many new techniques that are being used to detect fake artwork.

Preserving Paintings

Thursday, May 21st, 2009 | Author:


Paintings delight us and soothe our aesthetic senses. Paintings also represent greatness of bygone era. Many renowned paintings give us a clue of our history and culture. In such context, it becomes our prime responsibility to preserve the paintings in best possible way. It is being observed that we humans are greatly responsible to cause damage to the art works. In fact, we are just a notch below or two from natural calamities and insects when it comes to causing maximum damage to the precious art works. We often cause damage because of poor handling of paintings. Paintings also get affected because of environmental changes, poor storage facilities, stains from contact and humidity.

Let’s look at few important suggestions that can prolong lives of precious paintings. Make sure to check the wall where paintings will be displayed. Try choosing a wall that will not be facing direct sunlight and dampness because these two factors are detrimental to the health of paintings. Make sure to thoroughly analyze the process of moving paintings from one place to another. Wear gloves while removing art works. One needs to take extra care while handling large paintings. Packaging is very important but don’t leave it packed for longer duration.

Apart from direct sunlight, strong artificial sunlight is also not recommended. It causes localized heating and that ultimately harms painting. Try to follow a minimum of 10 feet distance of light from the art work. When you hang the painting on the wall, don’t keep it too close to it because that is a sure shot invitation to dirt and moisture. Keep slight distance between wall and painting. While cleaning, use soft brush instead of skin dusters or feather. Store paintings in a place that is not affected with insects. Cool and dry place is best suited for storage purpose. All these tips will keep your paintings in a healthy condition.  

Taking care of Stone Sculptures

Saturday, May 16th, 2009 | Author:

Sculptures demand care and attention to withstand the onslaught of time. We have already talked about how to take good care of metallic sculptures. This article will focus on preservation of stone sculptures. India has number of stone sculptures of historical significance. Many of them kept us enthralled and mesmerized for centuries. These art works have been carved out of the stone. Normally, cut in three dimensions, carved sculptures are wonderful representation of art work.


Stone sculptures are made using different carving techniques. It’s a painstaking process that demands utmost care, attention and patience. Carving techniques come in various varieties. Many factors play a crucial role in making up of these sculptures. For example, one of them is range of stone used in carving. It can be granite, marble, sandstone or limestone. These are the most commonly used stones preferred by artists. The most fascinating aspect about variety of stone is all of them different attributes and appearance. Add to that craftsmanship of artists and you get some of the best known stone sculptures.


To protect these precious sculptures, first of all we need to recognize any sign of decay. Early detection can help in stopping serious or irreversible damage. It would not be a smart idea to take these stone sculptures for granted on the basis of durability of stones.


Several factors can cause damage to sculptures. The most basic cause is environmental decay the signs of which can be seen on the outer surface of the art work. Decay originates from pollution, heat, corrosion, wetting and drying etc. once the decay sets in, it’s hard to reverse the damage so it is advisable to keep a regular check on the sculptures. Other significant reason could be mechanical decay that is often caused by using low quality stones or some mechanical errors in installation. Stone sculptures must be kept away from vandalism, oil, detergents, chemicals; repeated handling of the surface etc. Applying these precautions will certainly lead to long life of precious stone sculptures.

Metal Sculptures- Conservation

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 | Author:

Art works need to preserved and conserved. Like every other thing on earth, they are also subject to corrosion. Considering the historical and contemporary relevance of art works, they have a greater need of care. If we talk about metal sculptures, considering the changing environment and their metallic nature, they demand great attention and preservation. Environmental conditions have kept touching new lows since the advent of industrialization and commercialization. Metallic objects react to environmental changes and that’s why it is recommended to keep them to a properly controlled atmosphere. When conditions are well managed, the sheen of these sculptures tends to last longer. It is also our responsibility to maintain the health of the precious art works for the sake of their uniqueness and for future generations.


There are times when sculptures are exhibited outdoors. In such conditions, controlling the environment is quite difficult so it’s better to coat the surface. Metallic sculptures are prone to damage and rust in humidity and mechanical loss. Humidity makes iron and silver rusts whereas brass, bronze and copper corrode. That makes it imperative to keep them in dry environment.


Technical advancements have made it relatively easier to care for the precious metallic objects. To enhance the longevity of iron and bronze sculptures, new sophisticated treatments have been developed. But the best method is of reducing humidity. It is also advisable to apply some surface treatments and restrained cleaning of the sculptures to keep them in healthy condition. The conservators also make sure to use commercial polishes in a careful way because they contain ammonia and are quite abrasive. Polishing should be done with minimal fuss and it should not be overdone. It is mandatory to use all the functional, aesthetic and practical criteria before indulging in sculpture conservation. Keep a sensitive and careful approach towards conservation and metal sculptures are likely to remain healthy and bright.

Taking Care of Paintings

Friday, May 08th, 2009 | Author:

Preserving paintings is an important task and hence it is necessary for people to learn about how one should take care of paintings. mdifferent materials are used while painting. Each material has a different sensitivity pattern and environment affects them differently. So how can paintings get damaged? The image can fade or develop cracks in them, the canvas can suffer from dents or it may even bulge. At times, the canvas is split or torn at the corners. Often the paintings also deteriorate and become yellowish over time.


To avoid this, try and preserve the paintings in normal temperature conditions. Avoid extreme temperature and humidity. It is variance in the temperature that can cause expansion and contraction in the painting. Avoid hanging paintings in smoky areas especially in areas where fire place is near. Handle paintings carefully especially while transporting them from one place to another. Also, carry the paintings with both hands and cover them while shifting or moving them from one place to another. Avoid hanging paintings directly under light sources as it can overheat and enhance cracking. Clean the painting regularly with a dry muslin cloth without dabbing the painting. Dust and dirt shouldn’t settle on the paintings as they can be acidic and can damage the colours of the paintings. Avoid direct sunlight. Sun rays can have a very damaging effect on paintings. They can cause discoloration, or fading in the paintings. Never hang paintings where they have a direct exposure to sunlight or even artificial light, such a halogen bulbs. It also enhances the yellowing of the varnish. Oil and acrylic paintings are most sensitive to light. If the painting is covered with glass, it will require regular clean up. Always spray the glass cleaner on the cloth rather on the glass while cleaning.