View Full Version : Best Material for covering sculptures in storage

11-22-2011, 12:31 PM
We are in the process of re-examining our sculpture storage practices and I was wondering if anyone could recommend the best material or materials/methods for creating covers for sculptures. Many of our pieces have very well made archival boxes to protect them from dust, light, etc. but we also use cotton canvas slip covers for many as well, and it has become a concern that the cotton might create a certain amount of dust itself. Tyvek was suggested as one solution, as it could be sewn into fitted covers like we are already using, but are there other better options?

T. Ashley McGrew
11-22-2011, 04:44 PM
I lean towards tyvek more these days for the reasons you state. The softwrap can behave like a light woven fabric - sewn etc... It has the advantage of being waterproof (in case of leaks) but also it has the capacity to "breathe" a bit unlike plastic films. I know it doesn't seem like it would be waterproof but just to find out I made a water glass out of the stuff by heat sealing a small container - it held water! Also according to someone who used work in collections at LACMA when they tested its ability to cut down light exposure it was way better than you might expect which is cool.

By the way one thing that can extend your capabilities using some common materials is a open ended heat sealer here is a picture of my favorite type (more portable than a floor model).


When you have one of these you can do amazing things - from customizing existing bags - like making the ziplock bags fit your objects size instead of having to fold over a giant amount to making custom covers. Since the jaws are open ended you can make a running seam enabling you to make a custom polyethylen bag taylored to fit a car if you want! It is pricey but you also encapsulate materials in polyester for storage, shipment or display. Similarly it is the way to go to seal marvelseal and aclar when making anoxic enclosures for treating objects with insect infestation.
Just sayin...

T. Ashley McGrew
11-22-2011, 06:38 PM
Here is a picture of that kind of sealer as part of a mobile "sealer station" - note that the sealer is on a wire shelved cart with rolls of plastic film and tubing mounted above and the operator (everyones favorite move packer Michael Van Hook) is using both hands while operating the sealer with the foot pedal.

05-14-2012, 01:53 PM
Ashley, thanks for the information. We are also now looking at creating Dartek bags for some pieces. Can you give any advice on heat sealing Dartek with a tack iron or other tool that is cheaper and more readily available than the device you mentioned before? I would at least need to perform some tests before looking into something like that.


T. Ashley McGrew
05-15-2012, 02:05 PM
Hey Ron,

You know, I don't have that much experience with heat sealing Dartek. You can do it but it takes more heat than PE so I don't know how well it would work not using a good heat sealer. I know that with PE you can use taking Irons, regular irons and with some difficulty even heat guns. I think you are on the right track - just do a bunch of testing (and of course take some pictures and report back afterwards!) Sorry I don't know more on the topic.


07-22-2014, 09:55 AM
We are also in the process of re-examining our sculpture storage practices and dust covers on our open shelving. In the past we have used fabric as a dust cover. What are the best materials and standard practice? Dartek and Tyvek sound pretty ideal but pricey. One of our preparators learned at a workshop that Huffy brand painters plastic passed the Oddy test. Has anyone used it for long term storage as a dust cover? In a controlled environment what are the pros and cons of this material? Is it a pro and a con that it creates a microclimate should there be a temp/humidity fluctuation?

Many thanks in advance for any and all guidance!