Save my ornaments from getting smashy
December 19, 2009 12:54 PM   Subscribe

How can I protect vintage glass Christmas ornaments?

I have a couple of old, very beautiful and very delicate ornaments that I love and want to preserve. (They're the last two still intact of probably a dozen or so from my mom's childhood.) I'm pretty sure they're glass because I remember some of those dozen shattering after falling off the Christmas tree. Is there anything I can do that will make them stronger and less prone to breakage and won't destroy the paint still on them?
posted by pised to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Is there anything I can do that will make them stronger and less prone to breakage..

I don't know about that, but for storing my mom swears by bubble wrap. I like to use tissue paper, then wrap loosely in a baggie or bubble wrap.

If you are worried about finishes, uses acid free tissue paper and keep each itme in it's own box.
posted by marimeko at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2009

that was, "item"..
posted by marimeko at 3:23 PM on December 19, 2009

This is a messy solution, but I'll throw it out there: Depending on their shape and size, you could very carefully apply clear packing tape to the outside, and if the ornaments brake the glass will likely stay in shape. Where the tape bubbles, you just take an exacto and delicately slice the bubble to keep the tape flat and clear.

But, I wouldn't do that if I loved them.
posted by gillianr at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2009

Perhaps hang them on an ornament stand instead of the tree. The tree limbs can be a little wobbly (especially as the tree dries out).

When you pack them away put them in an individual box lined with bubble wrap.
posted by 26.2 at 5:32 PM on December 19, 2009

Bubble wrap isn't actually the best thing. Do not put tape on them! Get acid-free tissue. Make sure you store the ornaments in a climate-controlled area. Not too hot or cold, and definitely not damp. Basements and attics are terrible for storage. Any time you handle old ornaments, whether you hang them on a tree or a stand, they're at risk - but...they're surprisingly sturdy, and if you don't hang them, you don't get to enjoy them. Check the cap and pin to make sure they're tight. About the only way a properly hung ornament will just fall is if the pin pulls out. Make sure the hanger is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the ornament.
posted by clarkstonian at 5:51 PM on December 19, 2009

Oh! I love the ornament stand! That's a wonderful idea.

During the rest of the year, the ornaments are in a box and bubble-wrapped. I'll look for some acid-free tissue paper.

Thanks, all! Merry Christmas!
posted by pised at 8:35 PM on December 19, 2009

Good advice above, but also - take a few gorgeous pictures if you can. Just in case. I have similarly sentimental and antique ornaments myself, and as I pulled them out this year, I took photos of them inspired by these images:

As much as I love them, I don't look forward to having ornament anxiety forever - so I'll still be happy having images of them that I also love. Mine go in really sturdy cardboard boxes, in acid-free tissue, and are displayed in a glass vase. The glass ones that do go on the tree, I wire on rather than hang, and yes, make sure the little caps are secure!
posted by peagood at 6:54 AM on December 20, 2009

Wrap in lots of paper. It's what movers do with breakables; their companies' profits depend on this method working.

In my experience, they like to wrap each item in three layers of paper, loosely, and gently pack enough to fill the available box space.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:41 PM on December 20, 2009

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