Teach Outside
Resources and inspiration for current and aspiring outdoor educators and those interested in a natural learning environment.

Outdoor Art Preservatives


Outdoor Art Preservatives

  It's been difficult to preserve artwork outdoors, as the sun causes fading, wind causes papers to tear and blow away, and rain causes water-based colors to run and papers to get wet and tear. This is a primary reason I switched to sending weekly emails to families with stories and photographs instead.

An outdoor, lockable, enclosed bulletin board has been helpful, but the pressboard surfaces have had to be weather treated and some water still gets into the seams when it rains, even though it is faced in the opposite direction of most local storms. Some fading of signs and art still occurs as well although the front of the bulletin board only faces morning light.

An expensive, not-environmentally-sound idea is lamination. If laminated artwork is to be put up, thumb tacks need to be placed away from the paper contained inside or water will seep into the tiny holes.

On a field trip to The Exploratorium, a cardboard exhibit was going up. I spoke with the curator about preserving cardboard structures for outdoor use. She said they should withstand a season's outdoor use by using the following preservatives:

-Bull's Eye shellac (about $30 for a gallon) to be used for colored cardboard because it's clear.


-Watered down Elmer's glue

Hope some of these ideas help!

By Heather Taylor, teachoutside@gmail.com. You are welcome to share all materials with credit to her.