Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is Conservation and Restoration the Same Thing?

Eric Hayden French Circuns from San Juan Puerto Rico asks, "Is Conservation and Restoration the same thing? Are you a practicing conservator?

Hi Eric,
Yes, I'm a practicing conservator.

"Restoration" is more a European term. In the US, the word "restoration" is limited to only making something look good (aesthetics) again. "Conservation" is a broader term that includes the processes of stabilizing and addressing issues of deterioration and preventing the conditions that cause damage (lighting, shipping, handling, RH, UV, IR etc).

Most professional art and object conservators (in the US) look down on the term "restorer" because it refers often to someone who is not ethically and professionally committed to the task of conservation and preservation besides restoration. However, restorer is a term that the public most readily recognizes so you will see professional conservators refer to the word "restorer" only for the benefit of the ignorant public.

That was wordy but I hope it answered your question.

We think that people are interested in what we do, so in addition to this blog, we keep a couple of Facebook pages to keep people entertained: check out "Fine Art Conservation", "Tips For Art Collectors" and "Save Your Stuff."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Art Salvage of Giverney Painting - Monet's Colony

I was called by an 80ish year old lady who had inherited a closet full of paintings, all by the same artist V. Radimsky, that her Dad had bought in Paris in 1922. They had never been shown or put up on the walls. They were all on stretcher bars except one that was rolled up like a newspaper and was considered destroyed.

Since, as a professional art conservator, our ethics don't let us get into buying and selling, I was kind of caught in the middle of helping the owner connect with a buyer who bought the whole collection, even though the artist is pretty well unknown. As a thank you, the owner gave me the destroyed, rolled up painting.

The painting was dirty, paint was flaking off, deep cracking patterns distorted the whole surface...not a pretty sight. So, started by carefully consolidating the flaking by absorbing thermoplastic adhesives into the cracks. They we relaxed the cracks and distortions on the hot table and lined the picture. Once lined and stable, we were able to clean it which brought out the original colors, restored depth of field and contrast to the composition. Then we filled the paint losses, carefully and accurately inpainted and then varnish. It was put onto new stretcher bars and... voila'. Ready to go for another 100 years. Was it worth the effort. You decide.

A little about Radimsky: he went to France to be part of the painting experience surrounding Monet's colony. We assumed this painting was of Giverney as others in the collection that looked similar in technique and subject had written on the stretcher bars by the artist "Giverney." Radimski was hit and killed by a car I believe in 1921.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hidden Carl Oscar Borg Painting of Santa Barbara Mission Resurfaces

This nice painting of the Santa Barbara Mission by Carl Oscar Borg was inherited by it’s present owner. They aren’t passionate art collectors as a result of education or travel. Even though they inherited the good results of smart parents (who were the collectors), these present owners are still smart enough to know that keeping their valuable artwork in good condition and looking its best is a smart investment. They’ve become passionate about their “gifts.” But this painting took a bit of a turn from “just a quick cleaning.”

At some point, this painting had been trimmed and then the original composition was wrapped around the stretcher bar reducing the overall size by 1 ½” vertically off the top and 2+” horizontally, an inch+ off each side. Why (who can read the minds of Dodo birds!)? Perhaps to fit a pre-existing frame?

The result of this reduction in size was the loss to view of the upper bell housing and a good part of the dome of the closest tower. Also a good inch of detail on both sides was lost. Imagine the reduced composition and how it compromised the artist’s intent and quality!

The new owners were excited to get a larger more original painting as a result of conservation work. The edges were flattened and the painting lined to reveal once again the hidden details. What a difference in composition. And the cleaning was a huge improvement.

Top those benefits off with a new custom carved frame and you have the return of a gorgeous original Carl Oscar Borg that anyone would love to own.

Conservation/authentication questions? Call us at 805 564 3438
Appraisal and research questions? Call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121
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Monday, September 27, 2010

"New" Edgar Payne "Found." What a difference a cleaning can make!

This just in... what a difference a cleaning makes on this Edgar Payne! (clean on the left, dirty on the right) This $100K painting was just " found"! (wish I could "find" something like this!). Yellowed varnish usually "kills" purples turning them to brown and obliterates pinks... or course, it also turns blues to green.

Also, new post of interesting article atwww.tipsforfineartcollectors.org

Please pass this interesting stuff along to others!

Monday, September 20, 2010

America Tropical by Siqueiros

Here is an LA Times article on the famous David Alfaro Siqueiros mural, America Tropical. We did the project proposal/planning of the mural for the Getty. http://lat.ms/d8dlzO

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3 Tips Before Buying A Painting- Looking at Previous Art Conservation/Art Restoration

Practically daily, I am asked to help look over a painting that is being considered for purchase. Most of the confusion, on the part of the buyer, is when the painting doesn’t look exactly right even though there have been previous restoration/conservation treatments. Some of the questions that a collector could/should ask would be:
1. Does this painting look its best?
2. Has the previous restoration/conservation been done well?
3. Does the present condition impact the price of purchase?
Here’s an example…
Cleaning a previously cleaned painting
This painting was previously, recently cleaned.
This painting by William Wendt was lined with wax and cleaned. The painting is still muted or gray looking and the cracking is still pretty pronounced. Before purchasing the painting the prospective buyer asked me to look it over. By understanding the improvement that could be had with proper conservation treatments (complete cleaning and relining to remove the cracks) the buyer felt completely informed… full disclosure. Our price to do the cleaning, remove the wax lining and reline was $1,500.00. In this case, the buyer was able to negotiate a different sales price that was much lower than the cost of conservation. But, many dealers will at least pay for any additional conservation work needed in order to “seal the deal.”
Another question is, “Should the painting be cleaned and lined AGAIN?” Since this painting is not flaking and not at risk, preservation wise, the conservation work is mostly motivated by aesthetics. In this case, then, I usually ask what the “threshhold of pain” is for the collector. Does the collector care if the painting doesn’t show off its best color? Does cracking bother the collector (if its not at risk for flaking)? If the answer is “No”, then don’t have the work done.
This painting still needs cleaning because either the restorer didn’t see the additional dirty layer (after the top layer was removed) or the owner wanted a cheap clean which only took off the top layer of varnish but not the underlying harder layer.
Its unclear why the painting was lined with wax. It doesn’t appear to have benefited the painting at  all. It doesn’t look like it was ever flaking. So, this part of the previous treatment was simply low quality work.
This painting is actually in great condition, meaning that it has not been damaged. It will be cleaned to reveal its best colors and lined to remove the cracking. Hopefully, the spirit of William Wendt will be proud to have his painting seen in its best light.
So, what can you do to feel like you’ve got “full disclosure” (and understand all your options) before you buy? Here are 3 tips:
1. We will look at the painting for you, at no cost, if the process does not involve analysis. Call me at 805 564 3438
2. Buy from a reputable dealer. You were probably referred or linked to this website buy someone we do business with and therefore I would trust them to give you an honest full disclosure.
3. If you are buying at auction, we often preview artwork for a fee. The main auction houses will allow me to come in for a special viewing(evaluation) at your request. I know most of the painting dept people.

There are other tips for art collectors at www.tipsforfineartcollectors.org (this article will be posted there too)
Learn what you can do at home to save your stuff at www.saveyourstuffblog.com
You can also follow us on Facebook at
“Fine Art Conservation”
“Tips for Art Collectors”
“Save Your Stuff”
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Questions about appraisals? Go to www.faclappraisals.com 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Art Collector Wonders if His Painting Is Dirty

In the lab right now... For 75 years, this painting hung in a remote hacienda in the mountains South of Mexico City. Somewhow, it made its way to Southern California into the hands of a caring collector. He wondered if it should be "brighter"? Here's a picture of it during cleaning; the right side is clean and the left if still dirty. Wow!

Also, follow us on our blog at www.saveyourstuffblog.com 

See "Tips for Collectors" and Art Conservation on Facebook.
Appraisal questions? Call 805 895 5121 www.personalpropertyappraisal.com
Conservation/restoration questions? Call us at 805 564 3438

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cost to Correct Flaking Paint Problems Adds Insult To Injury RE: Bad Restorations

I actually really like this painting! This delightful scene in Veneto, Italy at the end of the 18th Century was brought to us because of flaking paint. The cleaning lady's damp, rag wiping down the lower areas (most easily reached), often causes this problem.

Cleaning lady's damp rag causes paint to crack and flake
Flaking in lower areas is due to wiping the surface with a damp rag.
But even experienced collectors make mistakes. This problem of flaking is not the only problem: the painting has already been through at least a couple of restorations that were poorly done including mounting this painting to masonite and repainting much of the sky and clouds. What was thought to be valued at $25,000 is now being dumped for $1,000.00 because of condition problems.

So what is a collector to do? Get an conservation expert's opinion before buying. 
How to do that is best reserved for another post.

Flaking paint... this could have been avoided
Flaking paint... this could have been avoided
So, now, what to do?! The conservation costs will be at least $1,000.00. In the end, an art lover for this piece will spend to stabilize the condition and to have it look wonderful again... and perhaps recuperate much of the lost $25,000 value?

For more tips on collecting follow us on Facebook at "Fine Art Conservation" and "Tips for Art Collectors"
Conservation questions" Call us at 805 564 3438
Appraisal questions? Call 805 895 5121
What can you do at home to save your stuff? See the "Productions" section of www.saveyourstuff.com.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Heirlooms, Memorabilia, Collectibles, Keepsakes: Protecting What Matters

This beautiful alabaster sculpture is a treasured heirloom from the owner’s mother. It was originally bought in the 1920’s in Florence, Italy and was passed down from mother to daughter. Sadly, due to improper packing and storage, the center section broke into several pieces. This greatly saddened the owner, as this heirloom possessed significant nostalgic value.

Damage due to improper packing and storage can be attributed to a lack of common sense. For example, some clients damage pieces when they stack a heavy box on top of fragile items. However, not all potential damage is as easily avoided, and when tricky situations arise sometimes you need an expert opinion. When advice is needed for packing home items, we have found such businesses as The UPS Store are extremely helpful. Although it may cost more time and money to safeguard your valuables when packing, moving, and storing, it is less expensive than restoration. Keep in mind that extra padding on all sides of a packing box is a cheap alternative to repair and loss of value.

Although it is important to take extra precautions when packing and moving, it is another discussion for items on display in your home that can be damaged by various disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes… and grandkids!). We recommend using Museum Wax, which is an anchoring wax that can help you avoid damage to collectibles when a building starts to shake. It secures valuable items to the wall, shelves, tables, and more, which means less falling and breaking for art collectors. Once this client’s decorative plate is restored to its previous beauty, she can further protect it for further generations by securing it with Museum Wax.

This beautiful alabaster plate is shown in its entirety. 

These delicate pieces broke off due to improper storage and packing.

This resulted in significant damage.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lost Russian Masterpiece Re-Discovered - Saved

This photo shows a detail of the painting during cleaning of the overpaint and discolored varnish revealing exquisite details and artistic quality. This painting has a great story I’m sure you’ll find interesting. 
Painted in 1903, a Russian masterpiece was exhibited in 1904 at the St. Louis International Exhibition to celebrate the Louisiana Purchase. This painting ended up at the De Young Museum, then the Oakland Museum of Art and then to several high end collectors, until it landed unceremoniously buried in stuff in a warehouse sometime in the 1960′s we assume. What probably happened, over the last 100 years, was that after a small rip had been repaired poorly, then again, and then another rip… and finally, the damage and the dirty surface made it fit for “long term storage” where it was forgotten… until someone started to clear things out. Recently, this artwork was to be thrown away until a sharp-eyed collector saved it from the trash. We’ll keep you posted as we resurrect the gorgeous woman in a white dress enjoying the good life.
For more, go to www.saveyourstuff.com
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Master Painting Damaged in Shipping

This very nice old master painting came into the lab yesterday with a gouge that occurred during shipping. A little magic of consolidating the flaking, filling the indentation, inpaint (careful accurate retouching with a varnish based paint) and carefully applied local varnish (along with 35 years of experience) made the scratch disappear.

Still, in this case, with a little better quality crate and better mounting of the painting into its period frame... this damage and its cost and bother could have been totally avoided.

For other tips for collectors see our Facebook pages and be our "friend" at
"Fine Art Conservation" or "Fine Art Restoration"
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Would You Throw This Artwork Away?!

From Trash to Treasure with Conservation

Amazingly, this fascinating piece was found flaking and dirty in the garbage! An inept attempt was made to “restore” it that involved an abundant application of wax to hold the painting together and a wipe with solvent to remove part of the dirt.

The Dumpster Diver who found the painting gave it to a collector who recognized that under the mess of flaking paint, wax, and dirt, there was a quality vintage image. Some research and closer examination revealed the title and date: “The Discussion” from 1929. This discovery encouraged the collector to contact us for a closer examination and professional conservation treatment.

Once the painting was cleaned, FACL discovered the artist Pruett Carter’s signature in the lower right corner. This is a well-known illustrator and finding this information added value to a piece that had been thought to be worthless. Once the conservation work is completed, the artwork will look perfect and will be, once again, a quality work of art.

FACL recommends you get an expert to look over anything before you get rid of works of art, because many pieces can be restored to have significant value.

You can get more interesting stories and tips on our Facebook page, "Fine Art Conservation" and "Save Your Stuff"
See what you can do at home to preserve your stuff at www.saveyourstuffblog.com
Be prepared at work/office with tips from www.saveyourstufffromadisaster.com

Fine Art Conservation Lab 805 564 3438
Personal Property Appraisal 805 895 5121

Flaking, dirty and thrown in the trash, this discovery was a real treasure.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleaning Paintings - Often A Surprise Even For Us

We just got into the lab a wonderful painting that was shown in the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. My goodness, this painting has been through tough times! We'll talk more about all the problems later but today, in our process of doing the estimate, we did cleaning tests to help us decide how willingly the varnish layers would dissolve and if that process would be dangerous to the original paint.

Even though we've been doing this since 1975, its often a surprising moment when we see the clean spot. The contrast is sometimes unexpected, perhaps like the beginning tests on the cleaning of the Sistine Chapel. We are careful to use solvents that won't attack the original paint. We also use, often, magnifiers to help us see more detail. Sometimes we need to test separately all the different colors to make sure one color will not dissolve unexpectedly while we are using a solvent. Get a look at these tests:

The "white" spots on this photo are where we have removed the dark brown varnish to reveal the original color of the dress. But here's something that you might not have noticed: See how the knee and the dress below the knee is kind of fuzzy or out of focus? Well, that's because its been repainted in previous restorations. The repainting was poorly done and WAY too abundantly. In fact, in the two cleaning tests where we tested to see if the repainting would come off, there was no damage below the retouching... we revealed original color in perfect condition.

You can imagine what a difference this cleaning will make: brighter colors, better depth of field and better contrast in the composition... a return to the original look and intent of the artist in 1903.

For more interesting details, projects and tips of things you can do at home, go to:


www.freehurricaneinfo.com (Home and business use)

Facebook Pages

Save Your Stuff 
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Fine Art Restoration 
Tips For Art Collectors
Preserving Family History
Picking the most random things when panicking
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Better be safe than sorry 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Personal Property Insurance and Claim Help... New Fire and Smoke Damage Photos

On our Facebook page, "Fine Art Insurance Help" see our new photos about fire and smoke damage http://bit.ly/c08o0p 

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Refugee Japanese American Story and a Rolled up Painting

This just came in the lab this morning. A very nice portrait of a Japanese American from 1944 in oil. Why it would be trimmed of its edges in such an ugly manner can only be explained by the painting being pulled from its frame, cut unceremoniously off its stretcher bars then rolled up and a hurried departure. Was the owner fleeing a natural disaster? Or maybe it was the social difficulties for Japanese Americans in 1944 when the USA confined American Citizens to concentration camps. In that desperate time, people fled with few possessions, stashed stuff in storage for, hopefully, later retrieval. We have done a lot of work for the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles over the years and they tell a heroic compelling story. (http://www.janm.org).

Damaged by being rolled up.

We’ve mentioned before what happens when paintings are rolled up. What happens is not at all like Hollywood shows (…like stealing the Rembrandt in Entrapment with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones). We’ve seem other paintings come into our care that were also rolled up and smuggled out in desperate times (see post on Russian Portraits). This painting has light flaking and has been lucky that more original paint hasn’t been lost. But some paintings react violently to being rolled up (see previous post). But the cracking patterns on this painting are very dissfiguring and unstable. Unless something is done, more paint will be lost with very little abuse.

I love working on these types of projects… rich in history and beautiful in quality to think about. There is something in this example for everyone to learn: take care of your stuff!

For a copy of How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster, go to www.saveyourstuff.com, click on “Products” listed on the scroll at the top left of the page and download a copy now!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fake Painting Abandoned By Owner

Here's an interesting story, just happened in our lab yesterday.

A dealer came in the lab to have me look over a painting that I had, once upon a time ago, felt was a fake painting... or at least it wasn't painted by the artist whose signature was showing. It was, in fact, an old painting, probably painted in the 1920's judging by the materials used for construction. Obviously, someone puts a signature on an unsigned painting because they want it to be worth more. But this signature was completely wrong for this painting. The sad thing was, the owner had $30k invested in this painting. Here's a picture of the painting...
So, the dealer brought in the painting, I guess to test me if I was consistent. Anyway, the signature was as blatantly fake as it was the first time I saw the painting... and in disgust, the dealer throws his arms up and says, "Well then, just keep it! I don't want it!" 
What? A free 48" x 36" painting from the 1920's? Great! But a word to the wise, if you are a collector, get some help from somebody with eyes and a microscope for these kids of details before you buy.

Collectors should consider other things to take care of their collections. Go to www.saveyourstuff.com and sign up for Free Preservation Tips.

Violent Storms and Flooding in Tenn., and Miss. Are Giving YOU A “Heads Up.” 3 Important Tips.


Thousands were evacuated and hundreds of others were rescued from their homes — some plucked from rooftops — as flood waters from swollen rivers and creeks inundated neighborhoods across the region. Hospitals, schools and state buildings also were flooded.

And authorities were preparing for more damage as the Cumberland River, which winds through downtown Nashville, reached its highest level since an early 1960s flood-control project and was expected to crest around 50 feet early Monday morning — 10 feet above flood level.

Firefighters busted through the windows of Audrey Talley's trailer early Sunday to rescue her family, including her three small grandchildren, ages 9 months to 4 years old. Talley's son woke her up to tell her water was coming into the trailer in south Nashville. Within 10 minutes it was knee deep.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen called it an "unprecedented rain event," but that failed to capture the magnitude. More than 13 inches of rain fell in Nashville over two days, nearly doubling the previous record of 6.68 inches that fell in the wake of Hurricane Fredrick in 1979. "That is an astonishing amount of rain in a 24- or 36-hour period," Bredesen said Sunday.

Not only was flooding a problem but several areas also had to deal with tornadoes.  Three people in Mississippi were killed when tornadoes hit their homes and a fourth died after he drove into flood waters.

Much of the flooding damage was in outlying areas of Music City and across the middle and western parts of Tennessee. Rescues turned dramatic with homeowners plucked off their roofs, pregnant women airlifted off a waterlogged interstate and evacuations in dozens of areas, including the removal of 1,500 guests at Opryland to a nearby high school.

Flooding and damage was so widespread in Tennessee that Bredesen asked the state's Army National Guard to help and dozens of vehicles and personnel were put to work rescuing stranded residents. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean reported more than 600 water rescues in the city alone.
One building in east Nashville was caught on video floating down Interstate 24 and passing stranded vehicles. The video was quickly uploaded to YouTube.

More than 20 shelters were open around the state, some filled to capacity. Jeff Fargis, with the American Red Cross at the Lipscomb shelter, said officials began turning people away Sunday afternoon, directing them to another shelter. But soon people began returning with news that flooding was so bad around that shelter no one could get there. Most schools in middle Tennessee have closed for Monday. Most state employees are expected to return to work if possible, but the Andrew Jackson Building, one of the state's largest, is closed.

Attention will then turn to damage assessment and clean up.
Bredesen expected a lot of private property damage reports and said there appeared to be widespread damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure, including at the state's own emergency operations center where up to a foot of water caused electrical problems and forced officials to relocate to an auxiliary command center.

Bredesen said it will be at least several days until the damage can be thoroughly assessed. He canceled a trip to Washington, D.C., this week to attend the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Governor's Summit to oversee recovery efforts.

Longtime state officials say middle and western Tennessee haven't experienced such devastating flooding since 1975 when flood waters inundated the Opryland amusement park east of downtown Nashville. "I've never seen it this high," said emergency official Donnie Smith, who's lived in Nashville 45 years. "I'm sure that it's rained this hard at one time, but never for this much of an extended period."

What do the woes of these folks suggest to you? Can the message, “Be Prepared” be said any clearer? So, what can you do?
1.    This photo shows a man evacuating but able to save his stuff. If his papers, books, scrapbooks, photo albums etc had been in cardboard boxes, they would have been ruined and gone. Put your important stuff in plastic bins.
2.    Keep your storage boxes of important items off the floor.
3.    Keep a copy of important papers in another location (city) or consider online storage services. If everything is lost in a flood, fire or wind, you will have back up. This is could be super valuable to a small business.

For more tips, free downloads and a copy of How Top Save Your Stuff From A Disaster, got to www.saveyourstuff.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

Water damage, mold

Yesterday a woman gave me a "ruined" scrapbook /photo album. Well, my coaching and info in my book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster would have kept this from happening in the first place but it would also help her to see that there is a least 50% of the info in the book that can be retrieved.

Imagine throwing away pictures of grandparents now gone, toddlers and growing up pictures, certificates of christening and graduation! Family history that shouldn't be thrown away is in your care.
Go to www.saveyourstuff.com for free tips, downloads and more...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Russian Royalty - Smuggled Out

Some of the most interesting art stories that I hear are the tales of smuggling artwork out of German or Russian occuppied territories. Who knows if they are true when you hear them. But a pair of turn of the century portraits came in the lab a couple of days ago that look like the real deal.

These two portraits were smuggled out of Russia about the time Stalin's Rule of Terror began. In fact, on her chest there are three rips that the owner swears are bayonet slices! Thing is, once they were cut out of their frames, rolled up like newspapers and smuggled out, they were left that way until two days ago! Actually, the current owner has unrolled them many times to look at them. In fact, through the owner's rough handling the painting ripped or broke apart! That is something that could have been avoided.

Note for your own benefit that the rolling up of paintings is very counter-productive to the preservation of the paint. Its understandable that if you're escaping a country with very few belongings and your life, that rolling up a painting is not a big concern. But otherwise, the technique used by Sean Connery in Entrapment (1999) will only destroy your artwork (and provide guys like me with job security).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cleaning lady's damage now repaired... for $3,600.00!

We're talking about the damage caused by the cleaning lady's damp rag reported at http://bit.ly/8pu9BA We thought you might like to see the final result of our conservation work.

Our careful cleaning of the grime (notice that the damp cleaning rag didn't remove this!) and the discolored varnish resulted in an almost magical glow of the colors. The glow from the fire in the boat has a very special effect.

We also lined the painting which means we added a reinforcement fabric to the back to strengthen the original canvas. That process also relaxed and re-adhered the cracking. Then we filled and inpainted the losses to match (with a little brush). Several layers of varnish, brush and spray applied, were the final process/treatment.

The result is truly wonderful, visually, and the deterioration was halted for decades to come.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti – A Disaster Preparedness Lesson 7 Tips to Help You

Once more, we are reminded about the awful effect and cost of human life, livelihoods and resources that are a result of an earthquake. This time in Haiti on January 12th.

Add to those tears the heartbreak of crumbling public and holy buildings full of memories, faith and art. Unfortunately, though, the country will not likely be on a fast track for repair. It’s too rural, not magnificent enough, not published in all the art books, not world famous enough -- and there is a lot of damage to deal with during trying economic times.

Of course, the center of damage is now rubble. But, there are many, many homes in the area that were only badly rattled. That’s the case, also, in a hurricane, tornado or even a bad storm; a focused area gets the brunt of the impact and the vast outlying areas just get shook up. So, actually, there are huge numbers of people that were not physically at risk, but they may have lost and had damaged many cherished family treasures.

Disaster preparedness for your personal items includes knowing how to protect your genealogy, heirlooms, photographs, letters, old books, art work and important documents. Set priorities and protect, first, your most important items. Here are 7 tips to help you be better prepared:

  1. Use an anchor wax to secure items that can fly off shelves and rattle around in display cases. (Home Depot) This is a VERY good tip!

  1. Keep photos in archival photo albums that are easy to grab and go. Keep them in a book case or storage box that is easy to get to.

  1. Keep storage boxes away from water pipes (water heaters too) that could break and flood on your treasured items (causing water and mold damage).

  1. Make sure hanging hooks AND wires are strong, oversized and well anchored into the wood. I can’t tell you how many paintings and frames I’ve repaired that fall off the wall onto a corner of a table or through a vase. Or what about that heavy item hanging over your head in bed!!??

  1. Photograph treasured keepsakes and copy docs; keep a copy in another location (another city or state!)

  1. You may need supplemental insurance for earthquakes. Make sure your homeowner’s policy covers your contents. Heirlooms should not require a Fine Arts rider but should fall under your regular home owner’s policy. You will still need photos and values for a claim (go to www.faclappraisals.com).

  1. Get a copy of “How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster” (www.saveyourstuff.com).