(ARA) - The numbers are in: Americans are no longer cocooning, they're traveling more now than at any time in the past seven years, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. So it's to be expected that a record number of souvenirs -- both the mundane and unusual -- are entering American homes.
Everyone brings home photos. Some of us even put them in albums or frames. Others may buy a piece of artwork or a poster to serve as a reminder of their trip. Then there are the really exotic items, like the flip flops a new bride-to-be wore on the beach in Cancun when her fianc finally popped the question. Or the glass from which a budding connoisseur sipped on his tour of the Napa Valley.
So how do you preserve these precious memories? "For many of these collectibles, the sentimental value far overshadows the monetary value of the item," says James Miller, owner of Art Frame in Pickerington, Ohio. "People want to preserve the memory of their experience, as well as their financial investment." Miller, who is certified as a master glazer by the Professional Picture Framers Association, offers the following preservation tips:
From cooking fumes and cigarette smoke to sunlight and your toddler's inquisitive fingers, your home is full of threats to the integrity of your artwork, Miller says. "Consider this: The drapes hanging in your home periodically need to be taken down and cleaned. It's much easier to protect your artwork -- especially oil paintings -- than to try to have it cleaned."
Miller uses Tru Vue Museum Glass to preserve oil paintings. It blocks out airborne contaminants, and filters out the infrared light that makes oil paintings brittle and the ultraviolet light that causes fading. "It's practically invisible and glare-free," says Miller, who also recommends that your glazer leave at least 1/4 inch of space between the glass and the painting.
Pastels and chalk are "fugitive" mediums, meaning the color will literally fall or lift off the background material if it is exposed to static. While pastels will not fade because of light, it's important to frame them in a manner that minimizes the creation of static. That means leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between the artwork and the Museum Glass, Miller advises. Multiple mats and spacers help create the needed distance.
People hold on to memories by preserving something that reminds them of their trip or experience. Some unusual items can present interesting framing challenges. But a professional glazer can help you preserve nearly anything -- even the bride-to-be's treasured flip flops mentioned earlier.
For three-dimensional items that can fit in a shadow box, Miller again prefers Museum Glass. "It's actually clearer than ordinary glass, so all the shadows and nuances of the object are enhanced."
"When mounting a three-dimensional object, it's important that it be mounted in a manner that doesn't damage it, meaning without adhesives, but that provides adequate support so that it doesn't collapse under its own weight over time," Miller says. "The first rule of preserving anything collectible is that you shouldn't alter it in any way."
For larger items -- like the 7-foot-long airplane propeller Miller preserved from his father's experiences as a World War II flight trainer -- a box constructed of acrylic may be the best route. Miller has used this format to preserve unusual souvenirs that include a bison hip bone a client picked up on a trip to the Southwest, and an antique violin.
Finally, whatever you do, don't leave your vacation souvenir boxed up in the attic or basement. The extreme changes of heat and humidity that occur in these areas of your home are especially damaging.
"Your special memory or investment is far safer properly preserved and hanging on the wall of your home," Miller says. "Custom framing is not done on a whim. People do it to ensure their special memories will be preserved for decades to come." Courtesy of ARA Content