Welcome To The Save Your Stuff At Home Blog

“Like” the idea and info on this website? Click on the thumbs up just above this video, NOW!


How To Deal With Wood-boring Pests That Ruin Your Antiques, Artifacts and Artwork.

By Guest Blogger, Arianna Spiller, Art Conservation Intern

Imagine turning over a painting done on wood or a wooden piece of furniture passed down in your family for generations to find that is has now become the home and food of bugs and pests that are not so slowly ruining them without your knowledge. Woodboring pests will have a huge impact on the item’s value, the structural strength and long term preservation. This article will help you deal with this devastation/shock these bugs can bring about that is so common to antiques and artwork.

Important tip for you to know: If you bring an infested item into your storage area or display area, the wood pests will spread to other items.

Types of wood boring pests that could be a potential danger to your wooded artifacts and keepsakes are a multitude of beetles, moths, lice and cockroaches. These pests burrow and bore into wood and can potentially ruin your precious and expensive wooden antiques, furniture, and art. The majority of these pests are attracted to human food, animal products (furs, pelts, hides, certain upholstered furniture etc.), and a variety of woods. But they are also attracted to natural adhesives used in making the items (or old school restorations) like paste, hide and rabbit skin glue.

Tell tale signs of infestation are any sort of fecal matter, larvae, or bug itself in the area of concern. Others bugs will shed their skin or wings and traces of these will be left in the areas of boring or infestation. Some pests will leave a frass or “insect created sawdust” outside of the holes they have burred into. However, if you see frass it does not mean there has been recent activity… but there has been activity in the past. Another good tip: The color of the frass is important to note: if the color is light and the saw dust looks fresh then watch out! If its dark brown then its probably from an old luncheon appointment. Other signs of infestation are damage, holes and unknown markings to your wooden artifacts.

Interesting note: wood boring insects usually come to the surface at a 90 deg. angle. If you see tracks of open channels/holes

Damage by insects in a painting on panel

Note how insects come directly out of the wood and don't dig or eat along the surface.

running along the surface, then the wood has been trimmed, shaved and modified. It possibly means the wood was taken from another older (infested) item and reused to make a new item.

If any of these signs are spotted, take action against these pests right away before the damage is too extensive or the bugs spread to other wood objects. If the pests are active, the situation will not get better by ignoring it and the bugs will not go away on their own.

What the professionals do: Last week in the lab we had come in a painting by Edgar Payne with a newish Richard Toby frame that had holes and frass and we followed these steps: At Fine Art Conservation Laboratories, when an artifact is received with wood damage due to pests, it is immediately wrapped in plastic and sealed. An eye is kept on it to see if new frass or other debris appears to prove that the infestation is active and how bad the infestation is. The infested item is sent through a gas chamber first using a gas called Sulfuryl Fluoride, a pest killing gas, that is made by the company Vikane. Here is what the Vikane pdf handout says: “Drywood termites and other wood-destroying insects can cause significant damage as they feed on materials containing cellulose found in structures, such as wood, paper, textiles, furnishings, and works of art. Because these insects live most of their life cycle within their food source, the exact distribution and extent of infestation is often difficult to determine. Therefore, localized treatments using physical methods or conventional insecticides may not eradicate all wood-destroying insects infesting a structure. To solve this problem The Dow Chemical Company developed sulfuryl fluoride, the active ingredient of Vikane® gas fumigant, to be used exclusively by professional fumigators for structural fumigation (Dow AgroSciences 2010). Vikane is also used to control bed bugs, cockroaches, clothes moths, rodents, spiders, carpet beetles and other structure-infesting pests .”

The most frequent question I get when I discuss gassing pests is whether the gas affects art, antiques and other contents in a

Wood boring pests that damage paintings

Note channels dug under paint.

building. The product that used to be used almost universally was called methylene chloride and it was considered safe. But I, personally, has not heard anything about Sulfuryl Fluoride directly associated with museum artifacts and artwork so I called the company. Several references in their literature and the person in customer service say that there has been ample testing and evaluation since 1961.

The wood item goes through this gassing process over several days before it is removed from the gas chamber. When it comes back into the lab, the item is then consolidated and sealed with a consolidant (to strengthen the weakened wood structure) that has a low viscosity so it will be able to absorb into the pores of the wood.  The consolidant also helps inhibit (prtect against) reinfestation. If nothing is done to the wood after an item is gassed and all the pests are dead, the wood item can be immediately reinfected again if it is exposed to pests.

Hopefully this article encourages you to be aware of how dangerous these pests can be and inspires you to take some preventative actions against them. Some helpful tips are:

  • Wood boring bugs thrive in warm moist places… but to tell you the truth, they live in all climates. But the optimum general temperature and humidity for collection care is 55% relative humidity and 65% deg. Fahrenheit temperature and keep the fluxuations of these numbers to less that 20 points per a 24 hour period. Gor an article on this subject go to:
  • Keep an eye out for fresh frass. Vacuum cracks and crevices, of wood especially, every so often to make sure you see the newly formed deposits.
  • Try and isolate infested items from non infested items: but keeping them all in the same room (even if they are divided) will not work.
  • Pesticides and insecticides may work, especially for items like silverfish/firebrats (not wood boring but  bad for items on paper and fabrics).
  • You can also introduce pest traps to an area for certain types of bugs.
  • Call a fumigator and ask about a chamber you can take your infested item to for gassing. After an item is gassed and all the pests are dead, the wood item can be immediately reinfected again if it is exposed to pests.

To learn more about what you can do at home to take care of your stuff, download now a copy of Scott Haskins’ book, How To SaveYour Stuff From A Disaster at 50% off! CLICK HERE to know more: http://saveyourstuffblog.com/products-supplies/

For a news article featuring Scott M. Haskins’, Click here: http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/media-room/art-restorerconservator-scott-m-haskins-featured-in-life-section-of-newspaper/

For art conservation and painting restoration questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com

For art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or jrholgate@yahoo.com

See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTube channel “Bestartdochttp://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee

See short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for art collectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel “preservationcoachhttp://www.youtube.com/user/preservationcoach

Follow us on Facebook

Fine Art Conservation

Save Your Stuff

Scott M. Haskins

Sign up in the side column with your e-mail address so you can be updated whenever a new article or video is posted!


Shipping Damage of Heirlooms: Liquid Tide Detergent Disaster

By Arianna Spiller, FACL Intern

A man and wife were being moved by her business; the moving company packing up all of their general belongings to go from Atlanta to Las Vegas. When the wife packed up her heirlooms and keepsakes, she took extra care…she thought.  Some of these heirlooms were the paintings done by her father, which happened to be some of the only keepsakes she had of him. This included the portrait he did of her as a young girl. However, she was unable to control where these items were placed, and how they were placed, inside of the moving truck. During the shipping of these heirlooms to Las Vegas, an open box containing Tide detergent overturned and poured into the package of the two paintings and their frames.

Father's portrait of daughter ruined by liquid Tide Detergent?

You could imagine her devastation, opening up the box containing such valued family heirlooms and keepsakes only to see that it had been doused in green goo. After searching the internet and reading blogs and watching YouTube videos, she called Fine Arts Conservation Laboratories, hoping that FACL could restore them back to their “pre-existing condition” (an important insurance term). Scott Haskins, head of conservation paid the owners a visit at their home and inspected the items at no charge. After outlining the options and costs, the owner made her decision and FACL picked up the two framed painting and will personally deliver them back when the work is completed

Luckily, the paintings themselves had a good, strong layer of varnish over the paint. This helped prevent the detergent and paint from interacting which would have made it almost impossible to clean the paintings of the Tide without disturbing the paint. After FACL cleaned the paintings, they were re-varnished. FACL was able to restore the paintings back to their “pre-existing condition” without significant damage.

The frames, however, were not as lucky.  The finishes on them did not allow for the removal of the detergents and stains. Therefore, in order to restore the frames and bring them back to “pre-existing condition” they will have to be re-finished.

Liquid Tide Detergent spilled on picture frame

The shipping damage of heirlooms can be prevented entirely if the proper precautions are taken in the first place. When moving an heirloom, or anything you would like to protect, always make sure it is properly sealed and protected from any outside source. Some of the common problems FACL sees in shipping damage is dirt and dust getting on the items, water damage (and other liquids) and, of course, damage from getting banged around (impact damage). Always get proper instruction for wrapping and packing heirlooms. However, when moving collectibles along with other objects that could potentially damage it, sealing is only part of the work. The proper placement of a valuable when moving is important. Take precaution to not let any other potentially dangerous items spill, bump or fall on your valuables. This involves placing a protective barrier around the item, and not surrounding it with objects that could possibly hurt or damage it.

After this incident happened the owner let some time elapse. She had never thought to check with the fine art insurance of the shipper or the insurance company of her new employer to cover the $6000 worth of damage done to the two paintings and the two frames. Unfortunately, she had to pay for a mistake that was not necessarily her fault.  If you are ever faced with a situation such as this one, where collectibles or heirlooms have been ruined or are in need of fixing, the internet is a great place to do research, find some help and do your due diligence.

What did you think about this article? Leave a comment! We’ll comment back.

To learn more about what you can do at home to take care of your stuff, download now a copy of Scott Haskins’ book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster at 50% off! CLICK HERE to know more: http://saveyourstuffblog.com/products-supplies/

For a news article featuring Scott M. Haskins’, Click here: http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/media-room/art-restorerconservator-scott-m-haskins-featured-in-life-section-of-newspaper/

For art conservation and painting restoration questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com

For art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or jrholgate@yahoo.com

See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTube channel “Bestartdochttp://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee

See short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for art collectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel “preservationcoachhttp://www.youtube.com/user/preservationcoach

Follow us on Facebook

Fine Art Conservation

Save Your Stuff

Scott M. Haskins

Sign up in the side column with your e-mail address so you can be updated whenever I post a new article or video!


Sports Memorabilia, Tips to consider when choosing the perfect piece

By Isabelle Riley, Guest Blogger

Being a big sports fan you will probably want to own your very own piece of sports history. Whether that’s a player’s jersey, or a ball from a historic game, owning a piece of sports memorabilia could bring you that much closer to your sporting hero. Once you have your hands on it though, you are going to want to preserve it to keep it looking its best, and hold it’s value. Here are some great tips:

If you have a piece like a ball or bat, take the extra care to purchase a display case. A quality display case will save your memorabilia from dust and other airborne dangers like nicotine, smoke, and mishaps when the friends are over. A case also keeps the house cleaning person from wiping it down with cleaners when you are not around to scream at her. Quality cases vary in price and style, from a basic glass baseball holder to a custom bat case with polished wood. Acrylic is an alternative to glass, is lighter and is unbreakable AND can be bought with a ultraviolet filter. Why is that important? Click here to see this short video on protecting original signatures from fading.

You want to preserve your piece in the best game condition that you can, that means leaving any original scuff marks or dirt and signatures intact, don’t go crazy with the cleaning cloth because you could be removing factors that make that ball or bat so unique. With sporting memorabilia increasing in value every day, you want to hold onto your investment.

Dwyane Wade Sports Memorabilia

Dwyane Wade Sports Memorabilia

In the case of jerseys, photos, prints or cards, you may want to get them framed. But remember, framing does not preserve anything. In fact, done incorrectly can expose the sports item to fading, stretching, heat or cold and more. Make sure your items are attached in the framing with archival materials (mounting materials) and make sure that UV filters and other important framing materials are used. Don’t skimp on framing materials as cheap matting paper can contain high volumes of acid that will stain and fade your memorabilia items, use quality products Here’s an example of an experienced high quality framer: HTFM Framing and Memorabilia.

For large photograph collections, you may not have space to display them all. Plastic storage page protectors in a binder are a cheap and portable alternative. Make sure the pages don’t have an odd or strong smell as they may be made of plastics that will deteriorate the item and cause the ink (on cards for example) to stick to the plastic.

Once you have chosen the proper display solution for your sports memorabilia, you will have to take environmental conditions into account. If placed near windows, the long-term effects of UV rays can fade your vintage memorabilia, so it’s a good idea to keep them out all strong light. Fluorescent lighting can also be damaging, causing UV damage and fading at a fast pace. If you decide to light your memorabilia so they stand out in the room, use a halogen light bulb to avoid any damaging light risks. Regular light bulbs ( with a filament inside) tend to heat up and if close to your investment could cause damage. When storing your collection, try to avoid storing them in damp locations, places at risk of leaks. An unfinished basement is a poor choice and an attic is too hot! Invest in airtight containers as water damage will definitely reduce the value. Click here to see a short video on a fast, easy and cheep way to store flat paper items.

Muhammad Ali Sports Memorabilia

A really good preservation manual that doesn’t talk specifically about preserving sports memorabilia but talks a lot about all the same problems is “How To Save Your Stuff From A  Disaster.” I used this book to help write this article and the e book is 50% off the book price ($9.95). Its by far the best book I’ve ever seen on this subject. BTW, getting good preservation info/coaching can save you many $1,000 and keep you from damaging your collection. You can also get in touch with the author, Scott M. Haskins at Fine Art Conservation Laboratories for additional coaching (805 564 3438).

* From the editor: I think Isabelle did an excellent job on this article! Thanks for contrinuting.

While it is the dream to buy low and sell high and make money when collecting, there are many circumstances that play into this “game.” Do NOT assume you will make money and this web page/blog and any writings of Save Your Stuff LLC do not give investment advice. None of the information in this article or blog should be construed as encouragement, coaching or teaching investment strategies. Having said that, a good bit of advice is to become friends with an art or memorabilia appraiser to get information pertinent to your specific interests. And finally, Isabelle is correct when she says that the state of preservation is very important to the value.

An invitation to you: If you would like to write an article for this blog or any of Save Your Stuff’s other blogs, feel free to contact me to be a guest blogger. Belinda happens to be an excellent writer but if you are not, I will help “adjust” your article before we post it. You are encouraged to write articles often. I almost never refuse a guest writer’s work. You may include URL’s of your websites if they are compatible with the message of SYS and you may include photos. The writing and the photo must be of your creation and you must have the authorization to publish it/them. This is a chance for you to get published and contribute to a world wide audience of memorabilia, collectibles and art collectors. You don’t get paid and you don’t pay me. Inquire at scott@saveyourstuff.com or call me at 805 564 3438

Art conservation/Save Your Stuff questions? Call Scott at 805 564 3438

Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121

Friend us on Facebook at

Save Your Stuff

Scott M. Haskins

Fine Art Conservation

Subscribe to our How-To videos on YouTube at “Preservationcoach” Channel

Check out Isabelle’s Sports memorabilia website at http://www.htfm.com.au/ . She’s an expert when it comes to knowing her “stuff.”


Save Your Stuff in the Workplace by Scott M. Haskins newly released

Save Your Stuff in the Workplace has JUST been delivered! Long awaited by business and emergency preparedness organizations, its exciting to finally have it in hand. Check out the info on Amazon: CLICK HERE to go to Amazon and put in the search box “Save Your Stuff Workplace” Thanks for your support!

Scott M. Haskins' Save Your Stuff in the Workplace

Just pulled the 1st copy out of the box today!

Protecting and saving your company’s artwork, collectibles, memorabilia, and employee’s personal items in your workplace is essential, especially before natural disaster situations occur, for 1.) workplace safety and 2.) the emotional response of fellow employees. Discover how these two conditions are of paramount importance for your office’s business continuity and the reopening of your workplace after a disaster.

Reflect on your company’s Mission Statement and corporate culture and discover how safeguarding these items must be an important part of your HR emergency preparedness plan (personnel emotional preparedness) whether you are in a corporation or a government office… and how fun it is to implement!

Save Your Stuff in the Workplace helps you assess your needs and establishes clear strategies for action which you won’t see in any other source! Also included with the purchase of this book, you will receive continuing education to help you and other office personnel to implement and enjoy the success. You won’t have to do this by yourself!

3 BISAC Categories


Resources & Personnel Management

2. BUS033070BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Insurance / Risk Assessment & Management

3. ANT000000 Antiques & Collectibles/ General

3 Alternate BISAC Categories

BUS096000BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Office Management

BUS093000 BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Facility Management

BUS085000 BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational


BUS077000BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate & Business History

Building Secret Compartments in the Office and at Home – Save Your Stuff

By Guest Blogger, Terry Wood

I think everyone plays with the idea of having secret places to stash stuff. More often than not, that something is of great monetary or sentimental value, like precious jewelry, rare stamps and coins, family history, heirlooms or even love letters from long ago. It could also be a gun for self-protection or a stash of cash that is being kept aside for a rainy day.

Obviously, the proverbial safe behind the painting may keep most people out but its kind of cliché’ and in a robbery, they will be looking for that kind of thing. So, this article is about concealed compartments that no one can find!

My grandfather squirreled away, in a secret compartment he built into a wall, some time capsule family history/journal notes. They were discovered 50 years after he hid them away, just after his death. They were super fun to find, added to the family history stories and clarified some issues for settling his estate. I thought it was funny that even my grandmother didn’t know anything about it.

There are literally hundreds of places in your house of office where you can hide these valuable items that will frustrate even the most determined of professional thieves or it can protect your things from disasters. All it takes is to learn how to build secret compartments. Of course, depending on what you want to hide, the secret compartment will vary in size… maybe it will be a secret room!

Take for instance the hollow spaces in walls, which are typically sheetrock nailed on 2″ x 4′” studs that run vertically from floor to ceiling and are spaced 16 inches apart. Even with little practice, you can find where these spaces are by tapping along the wall. Then, with a coping saw, you can carefully cut a hole to create a suitable stash between the beams. Just remember that the hole must be smaller than the object that you will use to cover it, like a line of shelves, a picture frame or a gun rack. Here’s a fun video to show you how:

If the item you want to conceal is thin like a few thousand dollar bills, shares of stocks or treasury bills, then you may want to make a false bottom in one of the drawers of your favorite desk. To make a false bottom drawer, cut a liner from a suitable material. But in doing this, remember that the measurement must be exact and you must use the same kind of wood because things cannot look altered. If you cannot find the same kind of material, you will have to repaint or revarnish the whole desk and every drawer. Then, glue a washer at the center and at each corner of the real bottom as well as to the false bottom. When the false bottom is inserted in the drawer, the washers will line up and create a secret compartment of desired thickness. Lifting the false bottom can be made through the use of a strong magnet or inserting a pen in a small hole at the bottom of the drawer to push up the false bottom. Here’s a video about that process:

Other common items that can “double” as secret compartments are books and even the heel of your shoe. An old dictionary, for instance, can be turned into an innocent-looking secret compartment for your hand gun. All you need is a knife to cut out the space in the inside pages for the hand gun, tape the compartment and you’re done. On the other hand, the simplest way to turn a heel of a shoe into a secret compartment is to lift the heel pad from the inside, then carve out a space using a drill and a sharp knife. Insert the object, glue back the flap and join James Bond in his top secret missions. Fun… and useful!

Of course, secret compartments are a great way to keep your valuables safe. But you should also consider other methods such as an insurance plan for art, collectables or heirlooms. Another “plan” would be to keep duplicates of ownership documents, appraisals and the such at another location (a sister to states away from you?).

For more about how to save your stuff, CLICK HERE

Author bio:

This post was written by Terry Wood.  Terry is an insurance expert with US Insurance Net, a site that provides life insurance reviews.

Editor’s note: What can be done to “modify” one of these super secret hiding compartments to make it “archival”? Archival means that materials of the storage container will not add to the deterioration of what is stored inside. This would be important for paper items like letters, certificates, old photos. Here are some tips:

1. line the hidden drawer or box with an acid free paper – several layers.

2. store items enclosed in a zip lock baggie or Tupperware container

3. Don’t make your hidden compartment where it will get extra hot or extra cold.


Archival Scrapbook Copying/Duplication… why?

Making an archival copy of a scrapbook can be easier than you think. But why do it?! Welllllllll…. family members may want copies, the original may NOT be archival and you want to make one that will last, also disaster planning for the next tornado, hurricane or flood means getting physical archival copies of all the most important items (vintage photos, legal papers, family history etc) and stashing a copy in a safe place (like two states away at your sister’s house!).

A couple of years ago my sister, bless her heart, made a huge, oversized scrapbook of part of my Dad’s life. My Dad is getting along in years. He had his 86th birthday this week. As soon as I saw it, the three reasonsI mentioned above for making a duplicate copy flashed in my brain.One problem though… it is OVERSIZED and doesn’t fit on ANY scanners anywhere! So, how do I make a high resolution copy of the pages? I WAS NOT ABOUT TO TEAR APART THE BOOK, scan all the photos and start over!

So, we began shooting a photograph of each page in high resolution digital photography, adjusting blemishes and colors in photoshop and then printing out the scanned pages onto a high quality acid free paper with the laserwriter. Here’s my helper keeping things organized:

Archival scrapbook assembly

Assembling the scanned pages of the newly printed archival scrapbook

Once the new archival pages are printed on the laserwriter, you will notice in the photo that Michelle is about to put them into page protectors, another archival technique. In the end, our copy will last longer and hold together better than the original… but it won’t be so gargantuan. I’ll be making a video on how to do this process but for now, this will prove that we know what we are teaching cause WE DO IT.

To learn more about what you can do at home to take care of your stuff, download now a copy of Scott’s book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster at 50% off!

CLICK HERE to know more: http://saveyourstuffblog.com/products-supplies/

For a news article featuring Scott M. Haskins’s, Click here: http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/media-room/art-restorerconservator-scott-m-haskins-featured-in-life-section-of-newspaper/

For art conservation and painting restoration questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com

For art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or jrholgate@yahoo.com

See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTube channel “Bestartdochttp://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee

See short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for art collectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel “preservationcoachhttp://www.youtube.com/user/preservationcoach

Follow us on Facebook

Fine Art Conservation

Save Your Stuff

Scott M. Haskins

Sign up in the side column with your e-mail address so you can be updated whenever I post a new article or video!


Old Family Portraits – Ask yourself these 3 important questions!

I know my last post was about family portraits but you have GOT TO SEE this one! This family portrait was brought to us by the exhibits coordinator for the National archives and was really in sad shape. Notice the 18″ slash down the left side. Here’s a raking light shot of the distortions/gathers in the canvas.

The painting canvas was so brittle that the tacking edge nails had pulled through the fabric so the edges were loose and the painting was barely hanging onto the stretcher bars. The surface of the painting was LOADED with dirt, grime and discolored varnish… nicotine? How did this painting get into such precarious condition? Except it was adopted by a preservationist soul, this portrait and piece of history was destined for the trash.

Professional art conservation and painting restoration to the rescue. The rip repair of this painting’s ripped edges were rejoined under the microscope and, in fact, here’s a video to show how we do it:

The cleaning was actually, surprisingly not so difficult. Once the varnish was dissolved, the rest of the dirty layers washed away with it’s removal. What a difference!!!!

So again, how did this painting get into such precarious condition? As you might imagine, all of this damage is caused by handling and the way it was treated. In other words, all of this damage was avoidable… or preventable! What circumstances do you paintings find themselves? Are fragile old paintings displayed in high traffic areas? Are paintings not on the walls simple leaning against themselves in the closet, garage or basement? Immediate action to remedy the situation may save you many $1,000′s of dollars!

Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438

Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121

Follow us on Fine Art Conservation Lab and Scott M. Haskins

After Conservation Family Portrait

This painting has minimal touch up done (inpainting) and many imperfections, that are original to the painting or are a result of the artist’s technique, remained. The goal was to have the portrait look great… but have it be as original as possible.

To learn more about what you can do at home to take care of your stuff, download now a copy of Scott’s book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster at 50% off!

CLICK HERE to know more: http://saveyourstuffblog.com/products-supplies/


Family Portraits Need Love Too – Quick video of portraits in the art conservation lab

Family Portrait

We get family ancestor’s portraits in our painting restoration lab all the time. Some of them have some financial value, some of them are historically important and some are only important to the family members… all worth the tender loving care to protect, save and restore for future generations!

Is it worth it is a common question. I often ask back, “Well, what are you going to do? Throw grandpa in the trash?!”

Sometimes we also get the portraits copied and printed on canvas so several family members can have a copy of the family portrait. We have some great suggestions for making your copies look like the real thing!

Perhaps you would like to see some of the family portraits that have come into our lab in the last little while? Some of them will surprise you. Here’s a quick video:

Call Scott M. Haskins to chat about your family portrait at 805 564 3438!
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121
Follow us on Facebook at “Fine Art Conservation”

Leave a comment about your family portrait below!


Collectible Protection In Case Of An Earthquake

By Eleanor Nelson, Guest Blogger

From the Editor: This preservation enthusiast from England, with ties in California, has asked to reach out to you and share 7 important tips for protecting cherished family possessions in case of a natural disaster. And there are some quick, fun videos links for you. This information is just as applicable for someone in Hurricane Country or who lives in areas of severe winter storms. If you know someone who lives in that type of climate or country, do them a favor and pass this great article along to them.

There is no “earthquake season,” as there are seasons for wildfires, tornadoes or blizzards. In California, we know the ground may start shaking under our feet at any time, so it pays to be prepared all the time.

That is why, on Thursday, October 18 we at the FACL will be participating in The Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, along with over 17 million people worldwide (12.9 million in America alone). Wherever they are, whatever they are doing, everyone will “drop, cover and hold on” for 60 seconds, as if a real earthquake were occurring.

Events like this are a useful reminder that while disasters are not preventable, much of the damage to our personal property is definitely preventable. With that in mind, here are 7 tips on ways to increase the chances that your collectibles, family history valuables and keepsakes will come through an earthquake unharmed.

1. Check the strength of the hanging hooks and wires on wall-mounted artwork. They should be well-anchored and over-sized. “Over-engineer” the hanging materials. Paintings can rip all too easily if they fall onto something; even the corners of furniture can cause serious damage.

2. Secure items on shelves or in cabinets with Museum Wax, available at http://tipsforfineartcollectors.org/museum-wax-package/. (watch the short video!) Even a quake of relatively low magnitude will shift and topple standing objects.

Museum Wax SaveYourStuff.com

Museum Wax anchors collectibles in a shaking building

3. Keep your most important photographs together, in albums or containers that will allow for swift, easy removal in an emergency. Its called a “grab n’ go’ box.” Overwhelmed with so lots of stuff in boxes?! Here’s a quick video on how to get through it quickly… and in a fun way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j5RdOUkLv4 (leave a comment and THUMBS UP?)

4. Store items of significance away from water pipes and water heaters. Damage to your home’s plumbing system could turn an earthquake into a flood! Water not only causes serious immediate damage, it also leads to mold, resulting in further destruction. FEMA says all it takes in 2” of water to do massive damage.

5. Make copies of important documents, and take photographs of your precious possessions. Keep these in a safe location, offsite–preferably in a different state entirely! You will need these photos (and values) if you want to make an insurance claim. Questions about appraisals and claims, go to www.faclappraisals.com and call Richard Holgate, International Society of Appraisers 805 895 5121 for a free chat.

6. It is possible you will need supplemental earthquake insurance. Check that the contents of your house are covered by your homeowner’s policy. The policy should cover heirlooms under “Contents” and not require a further Fine Arts rider.

7. Finally, buy a copy of ‘How to Save Your Stuff From A Disaster’ at www.saveyourstuff.com.

Great suggestions, Eleanor. You can “take those tips to the bank.”

If you have art conservation/restoration questions call Scott Haskins at 805 564 3438.

Follow us on Facebook at Scott M. Haskins and at Save Your Stuff

Keywords: collectibles, family history, fine art insurance, art appraisal, art conservation, Museum Wax, ShakeOut, keepsakes, drop cover and hold, Scott Haskins, Eleanor Nelson


Smoke Damage – Discover 5 Valuable Tips Save Collectibles

I’m visiting Utah Valley and it is covered in ash and smoke damage – Here are 5 proven tips for getting help with your artwork, collectibles, memorabilia, antiques and heirlooms with valuable info on dealing with insurance claims. I am a fine art conservator which is basically someone who specializes in painting restoration. At present I am in Utah doing some work for the LDS Church on some very important murals, helping the International Pioneer Museum which belongs to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers with some follow up from the moth before and meeting private art collectors. I’m also consulted and considered an expert on saving collections and treasured memorabilia from disasters because of my book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster. I’ve been in the middle of 9 major disasters myself! While I am here, several deadly fires have broken out burning down homes and destroying valleys along the Wasatch Front. I feel extremely sad for the afflicted victims of this calamity.


Alpine Utah on fire! Other fires took place in Carbon County which burned an entire development of homes and also in the area of Park City but I am not sure where exactly.

As an art conservator I often deal with smoke damage in our lab where we take care of the smoke deposits and smell on artwork. (for a quick video tour Click Here). Because of this specialization, I often consult for insurance companies who handle contents claims and fine art insurance claims which include memorabilia, heirlooms, keepsakes, antiques and collectibles of value.

Here are two such examples of claims which will definitely help you learn something. I hope it teaches you how to be well prepared, particularly if you own nice collectibles, furnishings, artwork and antiques which you have kept protected with a fine arts policy. However, this piece of information is specially and perhaps more important for heirlooms, family history etc. that are irreplaceable but not insurable (little financial value but HUGE emotional or historical value).

Is Smoke Damage Possible from a Distance of 40 Miles?

I was asked to evaluate a claim by Chubb Insurance Company (now known as Chartis). They hired me to scrutinize a property in Los Angeles city to find out smoke damage to sculptures, fine art, frames, murals, decorated and gilt surfaces which were a result of brush fires that took place 2 years back, 40 miles away!

 Smoke damage Vaulted Ceiling http://saveyourstuffblog.com

In the entrance there were five arched ceilings same as this one, with the exception of the crown moldings which were gold.

Clearly, more than the deposits from smoke there is dust from the past 2 years. It may have been possible to examine the “dust” with complicated analytical means to establish the difference between smoke and dust but that option was rejected as it would have cost us $1,000′s.

This gave rise to these two questions:

1. Are there any smoke deposits?

2. Do they cause any kind of damage?

As the option of analysis was rejected, it was not possible for me to detect the presence of smoke deposits with naked eyes. Therefore the first question is unanswerable. So in short, my visit was about confirming and rejecting the claims of damage due to smoke deposits.

I cautiously read the 10 pages of detailed objects which were embodied in the claim worth $500,000.00 for repairs. I was accompanied by the client throughout the property. He explained to me what he saw as concerns and damages. He even showed me some gilt finishes that according to him had changed in color due to exposure to smoke.

In my opinion the “alterations” the client was pointing at are actually different colors of actual finishes which perhaps he has forgotten or was unaware of but has come into his notice now that he is taking a closer look. And this is where many home owners make a mistake while making claims: the situation wasn’t documented properly (video, photos etc.), the damage took place sometime ago, and there is no past historical record of value (appraisals or receipts) or conditions so it comes down to the belief of the insured versus the insurance company.

After my vigilant examination of all individual objects or items (frames, paintings etc.) and finishes, I observed that there were no changes therefore this owner did not get any support from me. In this particular case, Chubb benefited from my visit as it them saved them from paying $500,000.00 worth of fine arts claim. In another case, I inspected a painting for Chubb once which was claimed for $1/2 million and let me tell you they did pay this amount as they wanted to sustain the client who had insured an enormous collection, boats, houses and other toys etc. with them. So ultimately what induces the business decision and in what way an insurance company settles claim? Well the answer is simple – “Business”.

Well, I am not concerned with any of those things. I am just an advocate for artwork and regardless of whosoever is paying for my bill, I tell it straightaway. This is what makes me a trustworthy and genuine expert witness on art related matters as well as legal testimony.

Here comes another Example… Allstate Insurance Company

As seen with all fires, they take one house here and leave the other one next door through the neighborhood. One such case was that of a Mediterranean style home. The fire damaged the house; the heat caused the cracking of patio cement but “only” filled the house with ash and smoke.

Smoke damage House Fire  http://saveyourstuffblog.com

Allstate Insurance which was client’s insurance company was excellent in managing the major damage. But the client’s emotional issues kept them from dealing with the items which belonged to the family history, keepsakes and collectibles right away. For this very reason, claim was kept open. In fact, they even postponed working with the company for the claim of these objects for an entire year, though the presence of smell was still there!

FACL, Inc. helped the insured and the insurance company to:

  1. Motivate the client to complete their contents claim.
  2. Provide a complete inventory list of collectibles and keepsakes, along with photos.
  3. Propose treatments which are suitable for delicate items that must not be handled by harsh industrial cleaners (rare books, artwork, drawings, photo albums, sculpture etc.)
  4. On behalf of the insurance company it provided customer service to keep the client satisfied and happy and helped in concluding the claim process (which was being dragged before we came aboard).

There were around 550 items in total ranging from different types of paper items, books, paintings, photos, statues, antiques, assorted dishes and furniture. All these objects were ingrained with residue and strong smoke smell.

FACL, Inc. supplied the reports and evaluations to help move the claim and then provided conservation work to remove the smoke deposits and odor once the agreements were settled between the insured and the insurance company. (http://www.fineartconservationlab.com)

FACL Appraisals offered the contents/valuations and fine art appraisals when it was needed by the insurance company. (http://www.personalpropertyappraisal.com)

From our experience and knowledge in lots of smoke damage claims, here are 5 important tips for you:

  1. Make sure to keep an extra copy of your family records such as owner slips, receipts, documents, certificates, appraisals, historical info etc. in a different location preferably another state. Another good idea is to store it online but be certain about the safety of personal information.
  2. Try to take action as soon as you can. Smoke and Ash decay metals (sculpture, furniture parts, frames)
  3. Speak to your insurance agent in a timely manner.
  4. Avoid commercial cleaners to handle your valuables, collectibles, artwork, antiques etc. Instead make sure to get a professional help.
  5. Never assume that you “know” it if something is damaged or destroyed. Let an expert guide you with the right info. I often see people make BIG, sad and costly mistakes all the time.

Here is a short video of a woman who was a victim of house fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lCx-xg4BMY

For more examples of insurance claims, go to:


Have question? Call our Scott Haskins for free chat: 805 564 3438

For Art appraisal questions, Call Richard Holgate: 805 895 5121

Smoke damage cleaning of heirloom The owner this heirloom painting was overjoyed when he saw how cleaning brought it back to its original state after it had been damaged because of smoke.

If you liked the information in this article, kindly click on the “LIKE” –THUMBS UP tab at the top of the page. And please do leave your suggestions or comments!

For more interesting blogs go to



For more information about my book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster, CLICK HERE

Next Page »