Every artist and crafter has faced the dilemma: Not enough space for all your projects and supplies. Storing your in-progress projects, paints, and other supplies in your storage unit is an ideal solution. But you also want to make sure that your supplies stay good and your completed or in-progress projects aren’t damaged while they’re in storage. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to safely store painting and craft projects in your storage unit.
Choose a temperature-controlled unit. This is by far the best thing you can do to protect your supplies and projects. Heat (especially) and cold can be hard on paints, glues, epoxies, and other common craft and art supplies. Choosing a temperature-controlled unit helps ensure that your paints and other supplies come out of storage in the same usable condition they went in. It also ensures that completed paintings and other projects won’t be damaged by heat, cold, or moisture.
Know what you can and cannot store. Some painting and craft supplies can’t be safely stored in a storage unit, even if the unit is climate-controlled. Some chemicals used in painting, such as turpentine and paint thinner, are highly flammable and should not be stored in an enclosed space. Check your storage contract or talk with staff at your storage facility about what is and isn’t allowed, and what precautions you might have to take.
Choose clear bins with airtight lids. Storing your supplies in clear plastic bins with airtight lids is effective for a couple reasons. The clear bins make it easy to see what you have when it’s time to retrieve something from storage. Plastic bins are bug- and rodent-proof and keep out water and dust. They are also stackable! Sorting your supplies and putting like supplies in the same bin helps keep you organized. Do beware that some craft supplies, like essential oils, can melt plastic — so if you’re storing in plastic bins, make sure everything is upright and tightly sealed!
Prevent spillage. When storing bottles of glue, paint, and other supplies, you will want to prevent spillage. Even if a bottle has not been opened, there is still a risk of spills. Tape the lids of each bottle, then wrap each bottle in foam and tape securely. Also store bottled supplies upright to help prevent spills.
Get things up off the floor. As always, getting your items up off the floor of the storage unit offers a degree of protection from pests and moisture. If your unit has shelves, or you can put them in, this is a great solution. If you don’t have shelves, or you have large bins or other items, using wooden pallets is ideal. If your contract allows and your unit supports it, you can also hang things from hooks or rafters.
Wrap up your artwork. Paintings, collages, and other such projects benefit from being well wrapped in material that allows the artwork to breathe. That means avoiding plastic wrap or bubble wrap. Instead, choose cloth, tissue, blankets, or foam. This will protect your work from moisture (and mold) as well as dust and pests. If your work is not framed with a glass front, include some padding as well. If you’re going to store your work for a long period, take the time to periodically uncover and aerate your pieces.
Place items properly. Do not stack paintings, collages, and other such work on top of each other or stand them in direct contact with each other. If you lack enough space to store each piece separately, use a painting rack to keep items separate. The ideal way to store paintings and other similar artwork is to store them flat.
Protect your art and supplies from rodents. Especially if you are storing yarn and textiles, rodents and pests are a concern. Storing your items in plastic bins is a good deterrent. Also consider taking pest control steps such as placing cotton balls with a few drops of peppermint, or cedar blocks, around your unit to keep the mice, rats, and creepy-crawlies out of your supplies.