Earlier this month I was going through some artwork that I had in storage. Oh, my.

First: Now that we’re in Poland, we live in a house; in Amsterdam, we lived in an apartment…an apartment with exactly one closet, so storage space was virtually non-existent. The apartment had a room in the back garden that most people use to store bicycles and stuff like that. I used it to store art supplies which was, in hindsight, a very very very bad idea.

The room was concrete and had sealed doors but was not insulated. It’s a bike shed, after all! And although I had things wrapped and stored in sealed boxes, I discovered this week that many pieces of art and other items were…moldy.

I make stuff with paper, after all. And the Netherlands is a pretty damp place.

It was one of those head-smack moment where you don’t know whether to be furious with yourself, or just sad. After sorting through two boxes of collages, I ended up tossing most of it. And then I was both furious with myself, and sad.

Sara Naumann blog collage storage

Those smudges are not part of the design. I love this piece and hoped to save it–but once removed from the frame, the damage was pretty obvious. (And yes, I tried to remove the elements from the background paper but I also use a really good glue, so they’re stuck!)

Sara Naumann blog storage

Here’s the back side of one of the collage pieces, where you can really see the damage. Lovely.

Sara Naumann blog frames storage

Even these picture frames that are still wrapped in their original packaging…molding inside the plastic and outside.

So what did I do? Shake off the little (okay, loud) voice that told me how foolish I’d been to store paper artwork in a bicycle shed in the Netherlands, and make more. Indoors.

Sara Naumann blog artwork storage

When I’m arranging little paper elements in a collage, I often take photos of the layout throughout the process—that way, I can experiment with the layout before deciding on the final positioning.

Sara Naumann blog new collage pieces

New collages, new frames. New resolution to never ever ever store art in a shed outdoors.

A hard-learned lesson, but one that leads me to wonder about other places we store or display art: Storing in a garage, for example, or hanging pictures in a kitchen or bathroom where there’s a lot of steam? Hmmm…

A happy—mold-free—Monday to you!