Shrink Wrap - Print Storage Issues


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Feb 14, 2004
Nicholasville, KY
Sorry for the long post but I think it will raise some good conversation.

Hi. I have a small frame shop in Nicholasville, KY - but this question is involves my personal collection.
I have a nice collection of aviation prints. Artist such as William Phillips, Robert Taylor and Nicholas Trudgian. All of the prints are printed on extremely high quality ph neutral paper.

Collecting prints and doing custom framing = I ran out of wall space very quicky. They had been stored flat in between sheets of mat board with the tissue paper on top of the prints. I could not enjoy them this way.

Upon the advise of some fellow framers and also on the recommendation of a very reputable aviation art dealer, I purchased a shrink wrap machine and a roll of Clearmount's "acid free graphics grade" film. Which is sort of thick for shirnk wrap. Very happy with that aspect.

Now all my prints are shrinked wrapped (prints mounted on Bainbridge acid free foam core (dont even get into the gassing out thing....) secured in place with mylar corner pockets. They are sitting in a print rack. I seperated each shrink wrapped print with a sheet of regular thin cardboard to protect the image from dings, etc..

Acid free - yea! Protected from dust, etc..yea!
Rack is covered with a black sheet to protect further - yea!
but what about the possible prescence of plastictizers (spelling anyone?) in the film.
Yep I should have thought about that first....

I emailed ClearMount and got a very nice reply, but basically all that was said was "we dont know" about the content of anything in the film, but we know it is acid free. They also had no info about the long term affects of the shirnk wrap.

Anyone out there have any comments or suggestions? I have a lot of money in these prints and I enjoy them greatly. I dont want anything to happen to them.


PS: I do have some prints framed but they are all in metal frames using bainbridge alpharag mats properly mounted. :)
FYI: Email from Clearmount.

The words "archival", "conservation quality", "museum quality" etc. are very difficult to pin down for exact meanings and how to apply them to a wide range of different products.

Our film is considered acid free - all components are chemically inert. Our film is a "polyolefin" film composed of both polyethylene and polypropylene. I am not aware of any
other type of shrink film on the market that is different to be called archival. The polyolefin
will not discolor or breakdown overtime.

Although the film itself is UV protected - meaning it will not breakdown by UV light it is certainly not UV protective - meaning it will not protect anything it is covering from UV light damage.

(Another shrink film on the market, not our film, is a PVC - polyvinylchloride film - that will
discolor and breakdown).
I think it will raise some good conversation.
I've given up trying to predict which topics on The Grumble will go platinum and which ones will die in the water.

My feeling, Steven, is that your prints should be safe in that shrink wrap, but I don't think anyone really knows for sure.

Like the safety of fomecore, there are varying opinions about shrink wrap.

Apparently, the opinions aren't urgent-enough to post here, though.
Thanks for the response. For my framing I have stopped using the foam core as a "just in case" and started using the Crescent acid free / lignin free corrugate. It just did not due to well with the prints.

As for the shrink wrap, that was my thought also that no one really knows for sure. I can attest to a print (William Phillips) being in shrink wrap for about 6 years and no damage noticable at all so I guess that is a good sign.
I opened some prints that were printed and shrink wrapped in the 80's. They were smooth glossy surfaces and they stuck to the shrinkwrap. A fine layer of the color peeled off.
I was startled to learn, just a few years ago and probably on The Grumble, that not all shrink-wrap is created equal (in terms of suitability for long-term storage.)

After the fomecore issue has been settled once-and-for-all, I think Jerry V should head up a FACTS committee to look into shrink wrap.
If the plastic film is polyolefin, it should be
made with out anti-oxidants, which are commonly
added to those polymers to extend their lives.
A proven strategy for storing such prints, entails
putting them in conservation quality folders with
good quality tissue, in front of them. They can
then be stored in a drawer, and the only board
that will be needed would be one that can slip
under the folder as a support when the folder comes out of the drawer. In this way, the art
can be seen without a reflective surface in the
way and can not be affected by any problems that
plastics might present.

Watch out for any tiny holes in the shrink wrap. Air pollutants will discolor the print in just that spot if there are any holes. I recently had a piece come in for framing that had been stored for a few years in shrink wrap. It had brown spots on the print from holes in the shrink wrap. Now, this could possibly have been aggravated by the standard cardboard backing! :D

Putting a rag mat (with an opening cut so that you can still view the pieces) would probably be a good idea.

I have always wanted a drawer system, but I just do not have a place for it that I can keep my personal things.
I also realize that would be the absolute best way. I am just trying to find something else :)

Yes the shrink wrap is touching the artwork. I have used a mat on some of them to keep the shrink wrap off of the prints, but then I am worried about the possibility of the mat making impressions in the print paper when there are other prints on it. With most of mine, the shrink wrap is touching the prints..
......and the confusion continues.....
Acutally now that I think about it, I am liking the mat idea :) I may give it a try tonight, but I think it may just been enough depth to keep the shrinkwrap off of the image.
Good idea Cyndi! THANKS!!!!
Or you could lay them on the matboard or good quality foamboard and instead of shrink wrap, cover with Mylar D aka Melinex 516, held in place outside the perimeter of the prints with double sided tape. I use 3M#415, Jim Miller uses another 3M product.

The Mylar D/Melinex 516 has the Library of Congress/conservation seal of approval, and I've never heard of any problems using it.

If you can flat storage the prints, you can just encapsulate and skip the matboard/foamboard backing.