Stuck on You
Each year the CPSA national show is hosted by a different gallery. It's been fun traveling around the US for the shows over the years, visiting places like San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, Cinncinati, and Daytona. Artists ship their artwork about a month before the show, and CPSA hires a cartage company to manage unboxing and handling of the 120+ works. Since the cartage company must physically be located near the gallery, a different one is used every year. I received my first hint that something was up when I logged onto my computer a few weeks ago. A few dozen emails from the colored pencil artists Facebook group were in my inbox, and growing. The hot topic was triggered by the return shipments of our artwork from the Daytona show. Works were arriving back with stickers applied to the front plexi of the piece.
The mishap seems to have occurred due to good intentions. At the Daytona show, the gallery placed stickers with the artist's name and work title on the gallery wall beneath the piece. If the piece won an award, they placed a second sticker with the award information as well. I can guess that the person from the cartage company thought the artists might want their show stickers and stuck them to to the plexi. He probably didn't realize that they would be extremely difficult to remove.
Sure enough my piece arrived with both stickers on the plexi:
At the show I noticed some wax bloom developing on the legs in the drawing, and planned to take apart the frame when it arrived to fix it. The presence of the stickers didn't upset me too much since I thought it would be easy enough to remove once the plexi was out. With a little effort I removed the hanging hardware, dust jacket, framer's points, and finally the artwork:
I read about various approaches to removing the stickers, and decided to go with the least aggressive: good old soap and water. I filled up a utility sink with hot soapy water and let my plexi soak in it for a few hours. i was tempted to light some scented candles and play some spa music to complete the experience:
And several hours later:
Hmmm. Okay, on to the aggressive methods. Surprisingly the best thing for removing adhesive without damaging the plexi is WD40, although getting the WD40 residue off afterwards is difficult. As I am scrubbing away to remove the residue I juggle the plexi, drop it, and irreparably gouge it on a sharp edge on my work table (I really should have put a towel under it to protect it from scratches). Not a little gouge, but a Grand Canyon sized crevice. Since there's no fixing this, I make the phone call to my framer to order a new piece of plexi.
In the meantime I check out the wax bloom. You can see it as a light gray on the outline of the left leg. I find that they darker Prismacolor warm grays are prone to bloom, and this is an area where I outlined the legs before laying down color. It's bloomed pretty good.
Fortunately this is easy to correct with a slightly damp cloth, followed by a layer of fixative. I don't particularly want to pull the entire mat apart, so I mask it off with paper before spraying the fixative on the artwork:
It takes about a week for the plexi to come in. It is just as expensive as the first time I bought it (doh!). I peel off the protective paper, carefully (!) lay it into the frame with a towel underneath, then pull out my handy point gun and set the framer's points (as an aside, you can set points without a point gun, but seriously, if you do your own framing splurge for at least a cheap one. It takes me abut 20 seconds to put all the points back in on this piece).
My framer used brown craft paper for the original dust jacket, but I usually use Lineco frame backing paper, so I cut some for the replacement before reattaching the hardware.
CPSA published a note to the artists indicating they were compiling an artwork handling guideline list for future cartage companies. I think this is a good step, and will help. I think some artists are seeking damages from the cartage company, but I am not (the sticker was easy to remove with WD40; the damage was my own fault, and I had to take the plexi off anyway to fix the wax bloom). Live and learn!