WHY? After an emergency, don’t assume that your artwork and studio contents are a total loss.
The keys to successful first aid are:
✔ understanding the agents that are causing damage and the materials affected
✔ establishing priorities and proceeding cautiously
✔ recognizing when you need professional help…and also when items are not worth the effort to save them.
Salvage DOs + DON’Ts
Wear protective gear.
Bring environmental conditions under control: 70º F and 45% relative humidity. Use dehumidifiers to lower humidity, and fans to keep air circulating.
Move items away from windows and damp walls.
Deal with your priority salvage items first.
Deal with wettest items first.
Deal with organic materials before inorganic materials.
Freeze wet and moldy items that you can’t air-dry in 48 hours (see Freezing and Air Drying).
As soon as possible, remove soot and ash from dry items using a hand vac or nozzle attachment (not the brush!). A “dry cleaning” soot sponge (see Useful Supplies & Equipment) can then be used for further cleaning.
Wipe off ash. It’s very abrasive and will scratch the surface.
Turn objects or unfold textiles or paper before vacuuming them. The soot will disperse.
Rinse moldy, sooty or ash-covered pieces.
Stack wet items.
“You just have propel yourself forward to go through the process of conservation. It will work. It does work!”
Marlene McCarty, Artist, New York City
“After experiencing such a loss I came to realize just how irreplaceable and valuable the studio collection of my life’s work is. Losing it all forced me to wake up and take the giant risk to invest in myself and what I do.”
Ceramic Artist + Beneficiary Molly Spadone