Caring for your ceramics - storing ceramics
Avoid storing your ceramics in damp or hot areas, such as basements or lofts. Damp can initiate salt problems and encourage mould growth, particularly if the ceramic was used for food or drink in the past. Mould stains are often irreversible. Damp and heat will damage repair and restoration materials, whilst any non-ceramic components, e.g. metals, will also be at risk.
Long term storage in wooden drawers or cabinets can sometimes be problematic. If doors or drawers are rarely opened, an acidic microclimate my be created which can cause salts to form in ceramics. If you think this might be a problem, wrap ceramics in acid-free tissue and boxes (see below).
Wrapping and boxing ceramics
- use robust containers or boxes (acid-free if possible), bigger than your ceramics by 8-10cm in all directions
- use acid-free tissue and bubblewrap
- avoid cardboard and newspaper (both very acidic) and polyurethane foam, use lots of acid-free tissue to wrap the ceramics. Avoid wrapping ceramics in cotton wool or fibrous textiles that could accidentally snag. Don't overload the box
- do not use adhesive tape to secure loose parts such as lids. If the tape is left too long it becomes more difficult to remove and in the worst case can pull the glaze off the body
1. Use a padded surface and individually wrap parts and pieces (e.g. teapot separate from lid) in acid-free tissue, then in bubblewrap. If you use tape, make sure it can't come into contact with the ceramic.
2. Line the boxes with foam or lots of bubblewrap then add extra wadded acid-free tissue to pad out the base.
3. Place each pre-wrapped ceramic into the box and surround it with more wads of acid-free paper.
4. If the pieces are small and you wish to have several layers in the same box, use lots of padding between the layers and place heavier items at the bottom.
5. Count the pieces in, label the box accordingly, and count them back out to make sure that small ceramics or parts aren't discarded accidentally.
6. You may want to label the boxes, but keep in mind security considerations.
Produced by the Ceramics and Glass Conservation Studio, V&A - see Conservation