How Art is Damaged

Art is fragile and may be damaged in many ways.  Below is an overview of the most likely causes.
Inherent faults – Foreign materials or other impurities, chemicals used in the manufacturing process, wood pulp products   
which are inherently weak and contain lignin.
Handling – Dirty hands contaminate and stain paper.  Careless lifting causing bends or creases.  Improper storage.
External Environment – Rapidly fluctuating temperatures and excessively high temperatures cause paper to deteriorate.  
Humidity may promote the growth of mold.  All natural and artificial light sources cause fading or darkening of paper art.  Light
also accelerates the conversion of lignin into sulfuric acid.  Air pollution is absorbed by paper and can cause discoloration and
disintegration of paper fibers.  Oxidizing gases may alter paint pigments.  Insects may attack paste, sizing, and wood pulp.
·        Internal Environment – Matboards made out of wood pulp are acidic and will eventually damage the paper art it surrounds.  
Often the art becomes stained along the inner edge of the mat opening because the paper has absorbed acid from the cut edge
of the mat.  Improper hinging may produce disfiguring chemical stains or may cause damage when removing from the art.  Paper
art framed with a wood or cardboard backing often exhibit brown stains from the acid and lignin in the backing.  Glazing (glass or
acrylic) placed directly against the art invites serious damage if condensation occurs and the art becomes stuck to it.  Glazing
without UV protection will allow fading and eventual degradation of the paper.

Lignin:  An organic substance that acts as a binder for the cellulose fibers in certain plant materials.  Its presence is considered
detrimental to the longevity of paper.  Cotton rag boards are naturally lignin free.  Alpha cellulose boards have been purified of
acid and lignin.

Rag Board:  Term used when referring to mat and backing boards made from cotton product.  In the past, old rags were
bleached, purified and processed into pulp used for paper.  Hence the name “rag board”.  Today preservation grade boards are
made from cotton linter (the fuzz of short fibers that adheres to cotton seed after ginning) pulp not rags.
Photos illustrates acid burn on card board
Photo illustrates acid burn from
acidic backing matboard
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