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The Art of Storing Art Supplies: Five Tips for Success

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Need to put your art supplies in storage? To ensure they are in pristine condition when you return to your storage unit, there are several tips to keep in mind. In addition to choosing a climate controlled self storage facility, here's what you need to consider:

1. Clean all of your supplies before putting them in storage

If you put anything in storage that is dirty, you risk it being permanently damaged, stained or ruined. To that end, clean all paint out of paintbrushes -- otherwise, within a few weeks or even days, the paint will likely be impossible to get out. Similarly, clean pottery wheels or other tools so that the dust on them doesn't degrade the materials or gum up the motors. If any of your supplies are wet, they could also develop mould or mildew, so make sure everything is dried well.

2. Invest in storage solutions

Regardless of the type of art supplies you are storing, use storage containers to keep them organised. Depending on what you have, you may want folios for drawing pads, mobile cabinets with shelves or bins with pull-out trays full of subdivided compartments. In addition to organisation, these containers also keep dust off your possessions. For objects like easels that may be too large for boxes, place a dust cloth over them to protect them from dirt and debris.

3. Check expiration dates and keep air away from paints

If you are storing paint, check the expiration dates, and if they are going to expire in storage, give them away rather than wasting them. If the paint is not due to expire, get it in an airtight container, and opt for the smallest container possible to reduce air inside the container. For example, some people even use syringes or other innovative solutions to store unused bits of paint. If you like, look for a storage unit that comes with electricity, and put in a freezer to store your paints -- that can work perfectly for oil paints in particular.

4. Store clay carefully

If you are a sculptor and you need to store some clay, also focus on getting it in an airtight container. However, don't mix uncured and cured clays, and similarly, don't put uncured clay in hard plastic containers, or the plasticizers in the clay will react with the plastic, making the clay into a glob of goo. Instead, wrap uncured clay in a bit of wax paper before putting it in a plastic container.

5. Use acid-free boxes for finished art work

If you are storing any finished art work, put it in acid-free boxes. That prevents acids from the box from getting into the canvas, clay or other material. These boxes also help to keep off dust, while still allowing ventilation.