Have to share this horror story with ya'll
I'm fortunate to have a nice space to hang prints. My wife has an office in town, lots of wall space and nice lighting. We cycle a few prints out every year, if I get something new she likes. There (was) about thirty five prints on display, mostly on 16X20 and 22X28 mounts, and mostly bleached and toned liths. I do all my own matting, dry mounting and framing, which is about the only way we could reasonably afford to do this.
Once I counted how many times a toned fiber lith had to be physically handled, from taking the paper out of the box to sliding it in the frame. It was 72 times, and about half of those were when wet.
I get a call on a Monday morning, December 6. My wife was in tears. A hot water main had broken in a suite directly above hers, and the office was flooded with hot water. The water had been flowing for the entire weekend. 2 inches of water on the floor, and the walls and windows were dripping condensation. The office was entirely destroyed. Over the next two days, the office was ripped to the studs, including the floors and ceiling, and was in the dumpster.
When her staff discovered the disaster that morning, the first thing they moved out was my prints. They stored them in another suite. In my mind, I pretty much skipped the stages of disbelief/anger/denial/bargaining/self pity and went straight to acceptance.
I could not get over there until the evening, not that I was in any hurry. Amazingly, I couldn't find any condensation behind the glass, and the backing fiber boards were dry. I thought I was hallucinating. We put a dehumidifier in the room, closed the door and went home to pass out.
Last week, we wrapped them up and took them home, and there they are in the spare room. Still no popped mounts, or condensation, or wrinkling.
I really believe the saving grace was the rubber tabs on the corner of the frames, which kept them a couple millimeters off the wall. Also, the surface of backing fiber boards feels slightly hydrophobic, which probably helped.
I guess what I get out of this is, these things are more resilient than they appear. I really could not have put them through more extremes of temperature and humidity (oh yeah, when we moved them home, it was 39 degrees and raining!).
The upshot of all this: we're moving to a new suite; the plumbing is in the floor, and not in the ceiling.
Sorry to hear about the damage -- good to hear about the well-sealed work in the frames! A heck of a lot better ending than when I went to get some mounted prints I had out in the garage in print boxes (16x20 silver gelatin prints dry mounted of 4 ply rag with 4 ply rag window mats.) I had them out there because we had moved into the house recently I had not fixed up a place to store them in the house. Three of the boxes (about 20 prints each) had become ant condos.
I pulled the prints out and laid them all on the driveway to get the ants off -- and yes...it started to rain. Oh, well, old stuff anyway. And I do have some unmounted copies, some even already selenium toned.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
My wife had some old type C prints that were framed without mattes, with the print in contact with the glass. Up here in the Great Northwest Maritime Climate, which is only a bit less bad for prints than where Vaughn is, the gelatin stuck to the glass, then repetitive expansion/contraction cycles pulled the gelatin off the paper in strips, some stuck to the glass, some not. V E R Y U G L Y !
Too bad about the office, for sure, but kudos to you for doing your job right.
Rich, I have seen your posts in the Gallery and your work is fantastic. I am happy to learn that the prints were OK, good job with the mounting there.
My painful sympathies. No amount of value can completely cover your emotion and work. However insurance, if you aren’t covered through her office, might help if it ever happens again. “Again” is hard to imagine, but stuff does happen. Many of us have frequent flier miles to prove it.
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I am sorry to hear about your wife's office, and glad that your prints survived!
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
Thanks, Steve. I took it as humor. It's the only way to take it!
And yes, when we get set up again somewhere else, insurance will be a consideration. The business was insured, so wages and production took a little hit, but it mostly amounted to a two-week PITA with contractors, vendors, and insurance agents with competing concerns.
I really assumed all the fiber stuff was going to be history, and figured I could salvage the RC prints, as they were only mounted with tape.