Damaged Art

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

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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

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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!

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House Grime and Yellowed Varnish on Oil Paintings- What Are Your Options?

This oil  painting’s varnish is covered with grime and discolored- yellowed leaving the original colors dim and darker than the artist had originally intended. If you are thinking about whether you should have a painting cleaned, remember this: cleaning artwork is usually an aesthetic issue/question… not a preservation question. If all you are concerned about is preserving the painting, then don’t have it cleaned. If you want to have it look its best, then cleaning may be required.

Also on this painting; towards the lower left side there is a small 2″ tear in the canvas. This is a preservation problem to be corrected. But here also you will be asked to make a decision: to patch or to “line” the painting. Actually, there is third choice. We don’t patch paintings because they set into motion other problems in the future (cracking patterns, puckering/bulges). But a local “reweaving” of the rip may be possible and the rip may be repaired without a patch and without lining. Your local conservator/restorer can explain this to you. Each choice has a long term preservation consequence.

The lost paint at the rip will then need to be filled and inpainted to match perfectly. If you decide to have the painting cleaned and treat the rip so it is not visible, after restoration the painting will have brighter colors, enhanced depth of field, the tear will disappear and the varnish will look even and clear. Then, you’ll need to think about lighting at home or the office… but that’s another blog post.

Here’s a quick video that may be of interest:

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What can you do at home or at the office to protect and save your artwork and collectibles from damage in an earthquake or hurricane?

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Here’s another 30 second video

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Poor Storage causes damaged paintings

Two deep dents on the bottom of the painting

This painting is not flaking or falling apart immediately. In other words, there is no emergency action needed to save the painting. So if these problems don’t get taken care of right away, all will not be lost. Damage in the form of cracking is now in the process of forming and becoming evident.

To keep these damages from happening, do not lean anything on the painting. Cover front and back with card box, or place in a cardboard mirror box. Do not store where the temperature gets too hot or too cold, or where it gets humid or moldy.

When you have a damaged painting, your home owner’s insurance policy may help you pay for it, and may even pay you for lost value. For more information about this, go to www.insurancepersonalpropertyassessments.com or call us at 805 564 3438

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Cracks Cause By Heating Vents

Cracking badly!

Keep art work away from heating vents that will cause cracking and flaking. (Same goes for active fireplaces), never use cleaning liquids on paintings,and last but not least, never try to clean painting with solvents.

 Careful inspections will help save flaking paint. If you find flaking paint, the best thing to do is call an art conservation laboratory for advice. There are emergency treatments you can do at home on most paintings. But it is still good to get some advice.

It is important to remember that we can save the original paint in almost every type of flaking condition. This type of preservation/conservation treatment preserves the original nature of the painting, helps the painting to retain its highest value and in the end will require less inpainting.

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Conservation questions? Go to www.fineartconservationlab.com

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Careless Handling Often Causes Much More Damage Than Aging

Careless usage caused this sketched to be ruined

This period print by Degas (1890 ish) ripped while careless owners tried to remove it from its framing. This paper was glued down directly to the mounting board. This is a very poor way to mount art works on paper, usually done by someone in a hurry that doesn’t know what they are doing. As the owner lifted the deteriorated brittle paper, an unexpected part of the edge was glued down and ripped as the owner lifted.

Because of this rip the art work will now require $600 worth of conservation treatment and there will be loss of value because the paper is no longer in virgin conditions.

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Plains Indians Encampment Water Damage in Garage

As can be seen in the photograph, this painting by Fredrick Schaefer was sitting on the floor of the garage when 3 in. of water flooded the area causing the paint to flake off and destroying the gesso frame.

The first problem was leaving/storing the art work on the floor in a poor quality storage area. Always store artwork up on blocks.

The second problem occured when the owner wiped his hand over the flaking area and removed the original paint (we routinely save original flaking paint).

The result is a damaged painting that requires extensive inpainting which, in the end, will look perfect but the value will be compromised. Both of these problems could have been avoided.

Water damage in garage

Still, even though this could have been avoided and was partly due to lack of care by the owner, an insurance claim could be filed if fine art insurance were in place. Not only damage can be  mitigated but loss of value might be an issue. Scott Haskins and FACL often help collectors and home owners with evaluations, claims and the conservation treatments. Contact us at 805 564 3438

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Hidden flaking can be knocked off when dusting

Hard to see flakes knocked off by cleaning lady when dusting.

The photograph looks like it is in perfect condition without any cracks or problems evident. However in the trees to the left, there are 6 or 8 very small flakes of paint that are coming off.

These types of hard to see flakes are often knocked off when cleaning ladies dust art work.

Here are 3 tips to remember:

1. Keep art work away from heating vents that will cause cracking and flaking. (Same goes for active fireplaces)

2. Never use cleaning liquids on paintings.

3. Never try to clean painting with solvents.

Volumes of books have been written about damaging paintings by people trying to clean them. It is a very complicated process.

So back to our problems on this painting, careful inspections will help save flaking paint. If you find flaking paint, the best thing to do is call an art conservation laboratory for advice. There are emergency treatments you can do at home on most paintings. But it is still good to get some advice.

Feel free to call our office if you would like to discuss your situation. 805 564 3438

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Cracking and damaged paintings caused by stretcher bars

Cracking of paintings and damage cause by stretcher bars.

There are 3 types of cracks of Fine Art that are directly related to stretcher bars.

First photograph shows diagonal cracking that will form in each conner, this cracking pattern is very common, and has been recreated in artificial aging tests which have confirmed that they form due to the expanding of the canvass and the ability of the stretcher bars to hold the painting properly.

Second photograph shows a cracking pattern caused by the painting touching the cross bar. This happens because the painting is loose and/or pressure is put on the front of the painting causing it to press against the cross bar, and/or could be the cross bar is not spaced far away enough from the painting.

Third photograph shows a vertical line that goes just inside and parallel to the edges of the painting, that may  or may not be visible on all four sides. Giving the above example the cracking caused by the cross bar. This cracking appears because of the contact with the inside edge of the stretcher bar, as you can see from the photograph this cracking can lead to flacking.

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Why Do We Touch an Oil Paint That is Flaking?

One of the biggest problems people have is to resist the temptation of touching an oil painting that is flaking. I have been amused to witness even the seasoned experienced collectors be rate themselves after they touch a flaking area and knock paint off.

The problem of people touching damage painting is the reason why, damaged art work should be removed from display once it’s damaged.

This photograph shows the worst type of judgement possible where someone has rubbed off the flaking paint all together.

Oil Paint Flaking

It is important to remember that we can save the original paint in almost every type of flaking condition. This type of preservation/conservation treatment preserves the original nature of the painting, helps the painting to retain its highest value and in the end will require less inpainting.

Questions about preserving collectibles, letters, certificates photos? www.saveyourstuffblog.com (Free downloads, sign up for blog updates)

Follow us on Facebook at (be sure to sign up as our friend!) :

Save Your Stuff  (Home)

Save Your Stuff From A Disaster (Office-Workplace)

Fine Art Conservation

Conservation questions? Go to www.fineartconservationlab.com

Appraisal questions? www.faclappraisals.com

For great stories, videos and tips see www.tipsforartcollectors.org (Free downloads, sign up for blog updates)

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