Dear MITRA moderators and community,
First of all, thank you so much for your time and expertise. I really appreciate this valuable resource that you are providing.
My question is about relative humidity, and its potential impact on artwork, particularly on oil paintings. I have read your very informative pdf about artwork storage and whatever else I could find here or elsewhere about the issue, but did not see specific information as to what specifically constitutes "wide swings" or fast changes in RH. Would this be something really quite drastic, such as leaping from 35% to 85% in 30 minutes, or does the phrase refer to more numerically subtle conditions, such as 55% to 65% within 24 hours?
Since late May or early June, I've been experiencing humidity issues in my rented studio space that I definitely did not have last summer. I have a combined thermometer/hygrometer there as well as in my home studio. At the start of this, I was experiencing high humidity levels in the rented space of 70-75%, and even discovered some brown drips down one of my interior walls!
My landlord has been very responsive, and after fixing an air duct leak that had caused the brown condensation drips, he purchased a small dehumidifier for me to use. I know to avoid "wide swings" or fast changes in humidity, so hopefully I stepped it down slowly enough at first. While I was initially pleased that the dehumidifier unit has manual settings and three fan speeds to facilitate a slow change, unfortunately it just can't maintain a steady humidity -- I am usually still getting 10 or more percentage point swing each day. The daily temperature has remainded constant -- 70-72F.
The supportive landlord is now making several changes and improvements to the property, including sealing my two exterior brick walls from the outside, as well as underneath my concrete floor from the basement, which will all hopefully contribute to a more managed interior climate. In the meantime, is a daily swing of 10% considered a "wide, fast spread"? My target is to get it down to 50% RH, but after a spike, I am setting it for 60 then 55 in an attempt to walk it slowly back down again.
I wonder if bringing the oil paintings back to my admittedly overcrowded home studio would be a better temporary storage solution until the landlord gets this under better control. I do have client and curator studio visits in the rental space, so moving the oils isn't the ideal solution for other reasons, but the longevity of my work is of greater importance to me. The paintings that are hung on the two exterior brick walls (unavoidable since it's not a cavernous space) have blueboard backings. The only deformations I have found are on some studies done on small, flat panels that have no cradling. (I have already spoken with the Ampersand representative on how to handle that issue.) I have both oils on stretched linen and oils on cradled Gessobord panel in the space, both finished and framed, as well as in progress. I also have works on paper (framed and unframed) and framed photography in the space.
I appreciate any further specifics you can provide on what exactly a "wide, fast" humidity spread would be in 70-72F, and whether it would be better to safely pack up the paintings and bring them home for now.