Personal Effects, Jan. 21

Published 12:30 pm Saturday, January 21, 2017

Question: Hey Jerry. I have a question for you. For Christmas my Mom gave me a doll that was handmade for her by a dear family friend 75 years ago. It is extremely detailed in the making with underwear and lace and everything. It is beautiful. What would be the best way to preserve it or store it for longevity?

Normas Doll

Answer: What a great question and a great family heirloom. These are the important things, the family items, not just the expensive things, but the things bring back a fond memory. That is the nucleolus of this business — memory.

It has only a little intrinsic value but its real worth is beyond the price of rubies.

OK, we’ve got it down pat that this item is important to you, so how do you take care of it? I highly recommend that you invest in a high quality archival storage box. It simply has to be acid free.

Sometimes you’ll see that it’s called museum board or archival grade. Irregardless, be sure to ask for or look for the sticker that says 100 percent acid free.

You’ll also need some tissue paper to wrap and pad her with. Again, it has to be 100 percent acid free or I’d look for buffered tissue paper. Buffered tissue paper is coated with calcium carbonate which makes the paper wonderfully slick and smooth. Buffered paper keeps acid from transferring to a textile, even better than just acid free paper will. You’ll have to spend a little money.

If you want this to be around and in good condition for your grandchildren, you’re going to have to take steps to preserve it now. Look at hobby stores like Hobby Lobby and Micheal’s. Both have archival materials and should have just what you need.

What I’ve told you is useful for all manner of textiles. Textiles are items like quilts, samplers, coverlets and clothing — anything that is fabric, is a textile.

Fabric by its very nature is fragile. What are some of the many things that are damaging to fabric? Light, heat, moisture and acid are particularly nasty ones. You’ve got to keep it out of the direct light. Harsh sunlight will turn that pink into a pinkish white in less time that you think. At the same time the UV rays will cause the fabric to become brittle and dry over time.

I can kill two birds with one stone on the next one. Heat and moisture, to me mean attics and basements. These are two of the worst places that you can store fabric. These places are bad to store just about anything in, so keep it out of these places.

Acid is the next one. Everything contains some level of acid. Wood is the biggest culprit in this category. Remember when I was talking about acid free paper? Today the majority of paper is still made from wood pulp. Early paper was made from pounded linen fibers and it lasts for centuries. Wood pulp, not so much. Here’s one that always irks me. What’s the one place that everyone keeps Grandma’s quilts in. A cedar chest. Absolutely the worst idea ever.

The acid and gas thrown off by wood can cause staining, discoloring, weakening of fibers and it will just cause it to deteriorate at warp speed. So just remember, invest in high quality storage materials, keep it where you like to live, keep it out of direct sun light and there is a good change that your doll will last for generations.

Thanks for the great question.