Expert Tips: Handling & Preserving Paper-Based Art
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Handle Paper Art with Care
  2. Keep Art Away from Direct Sunlight
  3. Avoid Humidity and Extreme Temperatures
  4. How to Clean Paper Art
  5. Protect Art When in Storage
  6. Use Acid-Free Materials for Framing and Storage
  7. Properly Document and Photograph Your Art
  8. Insure Your Art

For any art lover, the joy of creating or collecting paper-based art is undeniable. But you might be wondering, how do we prevent those cherished pieces from warping, curling, or turning yellow over time? That's where the art of creative paper handling comes into play. With the right tools, techniques, and a bit of tender loving care, keeping your paper-based art in prime condition is easier than you might think. So, let's dive right into it!

Handle Paper Art with Care

Our first order of business is handling your art pieces with care. Every interaction you have with your artwork can impact its longevity. Here are some easy-to-follow guidelines for you:

  • Always wash your hands before handling any artwork. Oils and dirt on your hands can damage the paper over time. If possible, use cotton gloves for that extra layer of protection.
  • When moving your artwork, always hold it from two sides. This avoids putting unnecessary stress on the paper, which could lead to warping or tearing.
  • Never touch the surface of the artwork directly. Fingerprints can cause permanent damage. Instead, use a piece of clean, dry cloth or tissue to hold it.
  • If you are using tools like scissors or knives, ensure they are clean and sharp. Blunt or dirty tools can damage the paper and leave behind unwanted marks.
  • Be mindful of food and drinks. Keep them away from your workspace to prevent any accidental spills.

Bear in mind, while these tips might seem simple, they are key factors in creative paper handling. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and in this case, it's how to prevent warping, curling, and yellowing of paper-based art. So, remember, every time you handle your art, think of it as nurturing a delicate flower. Treat it with care, and it will reward you with its lasting beauty.

Keep Art Away from Direct Sunlight

Picture this: you've just finished a beautiful piece of paper art. It's stunning. It's vibrant. It's everything you wanted it to be. But, if you expose it to sunlight, those radiant colors can fade, and the paper may start to yellow. That's not what we want, right?

Direct sunlight is like a double-edged sword for art. While it makes your artwork shine, it also speeds up the aging process of the paper. The sun's ultra-violet rays can cause the paper to become brittle and discolored. But don't worry, I've got you covered.

  • Display your artwork wisely: Place your art in a location where it won't be hit by direct sunlight. Even a spot with indirect, natural light can be a great choice. Remember, good lighting doesn't mean exposing your work to the sun's harsh rays.
  • Use UV protective glass: If you're framing your art, consider using UV protective glass. It helps filter out harmful UV rays while letting you enjoy your artwork in all its glory. Think of it as sunscreen for your art.
  • Rotate your display: If you have a large collection, rotate the pieces on display. This not only gives all your art a chance to shine but also prevents prolonged exposure to sunlight for any single piece.

By following these tips, you can keep your paper-based art looking fresh and vibrant for years to come. It's all about finding a balance between showcasing your art and protecting it. Remember, creative paper handling is not just about how to prevent warping, curling, and yellowing of paper-based art—it's also about preserving its brilliance and beauty.

Avoid Humidity and Extreme Temperatures

Have you ever left a beloved book in a damp basement, only to find its pages all wrinkly later? That's humidity at work, and it's a nightmare for paper-based art. Similarly, extreme temperatures can also wreak havoc on your precious pieces, causing them to warp or curl. So, how do we fight back?

  • Keep an eye on temperature: Try to keep your art in an environment with a stable temperature. Fluctuations can lead to warping and curling. A room temperature around 20-22 degrees Celsius (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) is generally a safe bet.
  • Watch out for humidity: Humidity levels above 60% can lead to mold growth, while levels below 15% can dry out paper and make it brittle. Aim for a sweet spot between 40-50% humidity. A simple device like a hygrometer can help monitor this.
  • Keep away from sources of heat and moisture: Avoid placing your art near radiators, fireplaces, or bathrooms. These areas are often sources of heat and dampness that can damage your art.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your creative paper handling skills are up to par. It's not just about how to prevent warping, curling, and yellowing of paper-based art, but also how to keep them safe from the hidden threats of humidity and temperature changes. Remember, your artwork deserves a home that's just as good as the care and creativity you put into making it.

How to Clean Paper Art

Imagine this: you've just finished a beautiful paper collage, but you notice a smudge. A smudge! Panic sets in. Do you leave it alone, or do you risk damaging your masterpiece by trying to clean it? Let's talk about the latter, shall we?

  • Gentle Dusting: Use a soft brush to lightly dust off any loose particles. A makeup brush or a specialty art brush will do the trick. Remember, no aggressive scrubbing here; we're going for a gentle sweep.
  • Erasing Marks: For pencil marks or smudges, a clean art gum eraser might be your best friend. Use it gently, in one direction, to lift the marks off. However, test it on a small, unnoticeable part of the art piece first to ensure it doesn't cause any damage.
  • Avoid Liquids: It can be tempting to reach for a damp cloth, but water can cause discoloration, warping, and even dissolve the paper. So, unless you're going for a new abstract art look, keep liquids away.

It's all about being gentle and patient when cleaning paper-based art—more of a spa treatment than a deep cleaning. Through these steps of creative paper handling, you can prevent warping, curling, and yellowing, ensuring your artwork stays as vibrant and beautiful as the day you created it.

Protect Art When in Storage

So, you've created this incredible piece of paper-based art, and it's time to store it away. Maybe it's for a show, maybe it's a gift, or perhaps you're just not ready to part with it yet. No matter the reason, protecting your artwork during storage is key to maintaining its beauty and integrity.

  • Flat Storage: Storing your artwork flat can help prevent curling, creasing, and warping. Use a clean, flat surface, and if you're stacking multiple pieces, place a sheet of acid-free paper between each one to prevent transfer of colors or textures.
  • Avoid Stacking: If possible, avoid stacking your artwork. The weight can cause impressions or damage. If you must stack, use acid-free cardboard or foam board between each piece to distribute the weight evenly.
  • Seal Against Dust and Bugs: Place your artwork in a clean, acid-free plastic sleeve to protect against dust, bugs, and other potential threats. This is a crucial part of creative paper handling to prevent yellowing and damage to your art.

Remember, the goal is to preserve your paper-based art in the best condition possible. Proper storage is just as important as the creation process itself. So, take the time to store your artwork correctly—it deserves to be taken care of, doesn't it?

Use Acid-Free Materials for Framing and Storage

When it comes to creative paper handling to prevent warping, curling, and yellowing of your paper-based art, using acid-free materials is a golden rule. Why, you ask? Well, let's get into it.

Firstly, acidic materials can cause your beautiful artwork to yellow and deteriorate over time. This is because the acid can break down the paper fibers, causing them to weaken and change color. So, it's best to steer clear of materials that could harm your art in the long run.

  • Acid-Free Mat Boards and Backing: If you're framing your artwork, ensure that both the mat and the backing board are acid-free. These materials provide a buffer between your art and the frame, preventing any potential damage.
  • Acid-Free Storage Boxes: When storing your art, use acid-free storage boxes. They provide a safe and protective environment for your pieces, keeping them in tip-top condition.
  • Acid-Free Tissue Paper: If you're wrapping or layering your art pieces, use acid-free tissue paper. It's soft, gentle, and won't harm the surface of your work.

By investing in acid-free materials, you're not just preserving your art—you're investing in its longevity. And that, my friend, is a true testament to the love and care you put into your creations.

Properly Document and Photograph Your Art

Let's be honest. You pour your heart and soul into creating your paper-based art. So, it only makes sense to document and photograph it properly, right? Plus, it plays a huge role in preventing any future missteps in the process of creative paper handling.

First things first, make a record of each piece you create. This includes the date, the materials used, and any specific techniques you applied. This information is not just useful for your own records, but it also helps if you ever decide to sell or exhibit your work. Trust me, people love knowing the backstory of a piece of art!

Now, let's move onto photography. Good quality photos of your art aren't just for showing off on social media (though that's a great bonus!). They're a way to preserve a digital record of your work. So, here are some tips:

  • Lighting is King: Good lighting can make all the difference. Natural light is usually your best bet, but avoid direct sunlight as it can create harsh shadows.
  • Angles Matter: Try to photograph your art head-on, at a 90 degree angle. This prevents any distortion or skewing of your work.
  • Keep it Steady: A blurry photo is a no-no. Use a tripod or rest your camera on a steady surface to get a clear shot.

By properly documenting and photographing your art, you're not just preserving it—you're celebrating it. And that, friends, is what creative paper handling is all about.

Insure Your Art

Think of it this way: If you could protect something you love with a safety net, wouldn't you do it? Well, that's exactly what insuring your art does — it gives you a peace of mind. And when it comes to creative paper handling, it's a smart move to prevent the warping, curling, and yellowing of your paper-based art.

Here's the thing: Art insurance is not just for famous artists or expensive pieces. Even if your art is priceless to you, it's still worth considering insurance. After all, accidents happen. A spilled coffee, a curious pet, or an unexpected leak could spell disaster for your artwork.

So, where do you start? First, consider an insurance policy that covers the cost of restoring damaged pieces. This could be a lifesaver if your art encounters any mishaps. Second, look for a policy that covers losses due to theft or natural disasters. You never know when disaster may strike, and it's best to be prepared.

Remember, art insurance is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Shop around and compare policies to find one that best fits your needs. And most importantly, make sure to read the fine print!

By insuring your art, you're taking an important step towards preserving it for the future. It's a little like a safety harness for your creative paper handling journey—keeping your art safe from life's unexpected twists and turns.

If you've enjoyed learning about handling and preserving paper-based art, you'll definitely want to explore the workshop 'The Art of Paper Cut' by Mar Delmar. This workshop will not only deepen your understanding of working with paper art but also introduce you to the mesmerizing world of paper cutting, helping you unlock new creative potential in your artwork.