Storing is a Big Deal!
If you store your print correctly, it will be less likely to fade or become brittle or damaged. Quality archival supplies may seem to be expensive, but for long-term storage of valuable prints, it would be advisable not to cut too many corners. There are several ways to correctly store a print and none of them include a tube.
You can frame it, but framing it right can be very expensive and waste money if the print may be sold later. There are other methods included here.
Storing Your Prints in a Sleeve
Another way is to store it in a Mylar sleeve. Mylar is a safe and easy way to store your prints. It is commonly used in museums and libraries.
The Basic Supplies
The Mylar Sleeve should be bigger than the print being stored. We use 4 mil 28-3/4 x 22-3/4 sleeves for most show prints and occasionally need the 24-1/2 x 36-1/2 sleeves for the larger prints. It is more cost effective to buy the storage goods in bulk, but buying all large sleeves can raise the price considerably. Mylar is a thick clear film created by Dupont. It will not discolor, damage or stick to the print. On a side note, we have found that it is much easier to get the posters in and out of the sleeves with the opening on the long side because of the size.
The Backing Board protects the print from creases caused by bending. It also protects the corners and edges if print is mounted to it; and it looks great too. Be sure to get an acid free variety. Buffered boards come with calcium to neutralize the acid in the print as well and are recommended for prints and posters. We use .040 Super Acid Free boards. In most stores, the "advertised" size of the backing is the same as the matching Mylar sleeve.
Get Ready by washing and drying your hands! The print should be touched as little as possible to prevent oils and acids from the fingers harming the print. When ready, position the print on the center of the backing board. The Mylar can be safely placed under the backing board for the moment. Use the weights to hold down the print while getting it into the correct position. Be careful not to damage the edges of the print while moving the print on the backing.
Secure the print by placing a Mylar mounting corner on each corner of the print. The Mylar corner has a pocket for the corner of the print and adhesive on the bottom to stick to the backing. Do not even consider tape or glue for securing the print. Mylar corners protect the print without damaging it. The best strategy is to put the corner on the print, remove fingers and press the top of the corner toward the backing.
Finish it up by slipping the backing into the sleeve. That is all there is to it. The hardest part is getting the right materials. We buy our materials from Bags Unlimited and E. Gerber. They are not the only sources out there, and if you find a better one let us know. Their service is good and the prices are fair.
Getting More from a Sleeve
Be Creative and combine smaller prints on one backing. Store stickers, cards and other art the same way. The important thing is to have fun!
Storing the Sleeves
Where to put the Sleeves? So you have done all this work and taken care of the art. The question is where to put them now. There are many options like horizontial and vertical blueprint cabinets and all kinds of different racks. Our advice is take your time and shop around. We found this nice "Richeson Print Rack". It is attractive and holds around 50 sleeves. Since you can put at least 2 posters in a sleeve using both sides, that would be at least a hundred prints. Anyway, these are estimates and it depends on the thickness of your prints and backing.
Storing Your Prints in a Portfolio
Another method of storing your prints is to use a portfolio. This allows for easy access to a group of prints, and is more portable than some other methods, whether bringing prints on the road or in from the other room.
Among Itoya's product line are archival portfolios. They are available in varying sizes, from 4" x 6" to 18" x 24". While unsuitable for larger prints, these portfolios make an excellent way to store smaller pieces, providing very economical basic archival protection and accessiblity.
The cover of the Itoya portfolio is made of black plastic that is stiff but not rigid (the portfolio will only stand vertically if it is supported firmly on both sides). The cover is approximately 1/16" thick and is puncture and impact-resistant. The outer side of the cover is imprinted with a light texture, and the inside is smooth.
The length of the spine has a reversible insert, so you can label the portfolio as you like.
A view of the center spline. The construction is tough enough to withstand lots of page turns if care is taken, but it is not meant for rough handling. Each side has 12 polypropylene (PVC-free) pockets, yielding a total of 48 page views. The pockets provide basic protection from skin oils, but the plastic is thin and is prone to showing indents. The pockets are sealed on three sides, and open at the top for access.
Slide the acid-free, flat black paper out and use standard framers corners or mounting strips to hold your print in place.
The 18" x 24" portfolio offers the most flexibility, from multiple handbills through small to medium-sized prints. Note that the portfolios are "presentation style," so the pages lie flat when open for display.