Why It’s Important To Use Archival Supplies In Your Artwork

How To

This is a series of helpful hints I want to share with you that I’ve learned along the way.

 For more How to’s click here.

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Use Archival Supplies

I recently entered a window art competition where I displayed about ten of my pieces for a month.  It was exciting to have that mini gallery show so visible to a new audience, for so long!  When I went to go pack the window up at the end of the month, I had a big surprise waiting for me: faded facial features.

Her eye color and mouth are gone!Kindness faded
Her eye color disappeared!very special faded

Just to give you an idea, here’s a picture of the window showing what kind of exposure the art got.  There was an overhang that protected the window from direct sun most of the day:

Artfest window

In the beginning of my art journey,  the learning curve was steep when it came to figuring out what art supplies to use.  Actually it’s an ongoing process that I’m still learning about, but there’s one thing I know for sure: I want to create pieces that are archival quality.

Archival‘ is a non-technical term used to indicate material that will last over long periods of time with minimal deterioration because of its chemical stability and physical durability.  What that means is: if you use the right archival supplies, your work won’t deteriorate or fade over a period of a couple of months or a year.

Unfortunately, I experimented with some materials along the way that were not archival; as a result, those details are fading.  It happens fast when they’re exposed to a little sun or when it’s just poor quality ink.  Yikes!

Lesson learned.

Even though I have to re-do some parts,  it was a great learning experience and confirmed what I knew: research and buy materials that will produce the best results.

So, how do you find archival quality art materials?

Most of the time the product will state it on the packaging.  Here’s an example of a marker I use:

archival marker

I often look for acid free first, and a lot of times, that means they are archival (although not always, so be sure to double check).

 Here are a few brands I use, that I know to be archival quality:

  • Sakura micron pens.  I love using these to outline objects to make them pop a little more.
  • Copic Markers. These are beautiful markers you can blend together to make your own unique shade of colors.
  • Frederix acid free stretched canvas. Comes stretched, primed and ready to use.
  • Golden Medium.  Soft Gel gloss can double in use as an isolation coat.  Gel mediums use the same archival binder as acrylic paints, so using gel mediums as a glue creates a durable, archival-quality bond.
  • Acrylic paints. The higher grade of the pigment, the better for archiving (although a lot of people say they don’t see a difference over time.)
  • Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper. For reproductions, I use this paper and the colors come out amazing!

You can also extend the life of your work by adding an isolation coat, keeping it out of direct sunlight and in a moderate temperature.  You’ll feel more confident selling your work, knowing the high quality of the materials will uphold over time.

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