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fur storage question


1mikeborden
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Hi,

 

I'm considering building a storage room for some furs for a client. There are some fur collars and some full-length coats but beyond that I am not sure of fur type. I've been doing some research and my thoughts so far are listed below. If anyone can offer input, advice or correction I would appreciate it very much.

 

Client is on Cape Cod with a fully subterranean poured concrete basement. There are two main aspects I am trying to address: temperature and humidity, with an ancillary category of materials.

 

Temperature: Mean basement temperature is 56 F with a high of 65 F and a low of 47 F. The area under consideration is a 9 X 9 foot alcove. In order to take advantage of the stable temperatures of mother earth I would construct a room with insulation only on the ceiling and the one wall which faces the main basement space. The floor and the 3 walls which abut buried concrete would remain uninsulated so as to allow the earth to keep temperatures stable. There are basement wine cellars constructed in this manner which maintain temperatures between 50 and 60 F. I will install LED lighting to minimize heat input and an exterior grade insulated door.

 

Humidity: Average relative humidity hovers around 70% and I know that this is far too high. Nearly all of the moisture is pulled into the space through the concrete (there are no active leaks). In order to rectify this I plan to use plastic sheeting as a vapor barrier just underneath the wall boards on the inside of the room, both walls and ceiling. I will leave the floor without a vapor barrier so that there will be a moisture source and build in a dehumidifier to keep the humidity at 50%. The dehumidifier's condenser will be outside of the room so that there is no heat input.

 

I plan to line the closet with Eastern Red Cedar. I understand that cedar typically draws moisture out of fur skins causing premature deterioration. I am hopeful that the vapor barrier just beneath the cedar will prevent this from happening once the moisture content of the cedar equals that of the room (50% RH). Cedar then would be a benefit as it is very rot and mold resistant. I am uncertain of any adverse effects that the distinctive scent of cedar may impart to the furs.

 

Grateful for any information!

 

peace,

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Summersmorning,

 

Thanks for the whisper. I've seen all kinds of cedar warnings including the link you posted to me (thanks by the way). I sort of thought that the cedar issue is that it constantly wicks moisture from inside the closet (and it's contents) to outside the closet. And then I thought that if I put plastic behind the cedar there would be no where for the moisture to go once the cedar was saturated.

Do you know of some reason why this might not work?

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Plastic is also bad for furs, you put two bad things (for furs) together, they won't make it right..... Moisture is the main issue for a basement closet, use treated lumber that can't decay in a basement, cheaper and more profit earnings for you, plus no risk for the furs,make your life simple and delight......

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Hi Summer (if that abbreviation is appropriate),

 

Thanks for your continued input, it's valuable to me and I appreciate it. So, as I understand the plastic issue it mostly has to do restricting the airflow across the fur and (if it's a garment bag) crushing the fur. Part of fur storage, if I'm understanding it correctly, is plenty of correctly humidified cool air all around the fur. So what I'm trying to accomplish with plastic in the walls underneath the closet liner boards (whatever they end up being) is to keep the basement air which is around 70% relative humidity (way too high) from finding it's way into the closet. Especially as the dehumidifier draws air from the closet, pulls out moisture and then vents partially out of the closet to dispense heat this will create a draw of basement air into the closet space which I'm hoping plastic sheeting in the walls will limit while not restricting free air flow around the furs themselves.

 

I'm not trying to convince you that I'm right I'm just trying to think this through and I appreciate your help as I do not own any furs and my client is trying to store hers at home if she can.

 

peace,

 

mike

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Mike...

 

There is one option that has not been discussed here yet and should be. i.e. to go to a furrier or two and ask them. They have the training. They have the knowledge. You MIGHT find one or two who are hesitant to give you the information, but I believe that if you keep trying you will find one who will. Even if they are far enough away that you have to use email. You could in fact simply use an email account for Gmail or something similar and tell them you are just way too far away from furriers even if there is one close. With Gmail they can't tell where you are easily. That way it will not look to them like they are cutting competition grounds, etc.

 

That is one area that I VERY highly suggest you explore. Maybe even one of the huge fur companies in Quebec or Scandinavia. Don't be afraid to ask. I am pretty sure that you will get a reply.

 

W

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Many years ago, I read a fascinating story at the now-closed furs.com website about Ann Whatu, "an influential L.A. jeweler to the stars," who "loves the feel and fashion of fur" so much so that "her boyfriend built her own private cold storage vault in her home."

 

I don't know how much information can be obtained by searching for clues in this story, but at least this shows personal fur storage can and has been done.

 

Here is the link to the archive.org copy of this story:

http://web.archive.org/web/20071129223412/http://www.furs.com/2001/FurAge171.html

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Wow, thanks Samurman! This could be a great lead. I've fired an e-mail off to Ann at her present company. I'll let you know if this pans out.

 

peace,

 

mike

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This is my personal experience. I am not a professional furrier by any means.

 

Fur storage provides protection from temperature, insects, moisture and light. The later two are more important than even temperature.

 

A small blacked-out, insulated room with a vented portable air conditioner is adequate to control humidity and the temperature should be fine for you. The temperature and humidity specs are very similar to a wine cellar!

 

Use small slowly rotating fan in room to keep air movement and kept furs spaced nicely. Furs were never allowed to touch cement.

 

No cedar. I did paint walls and floors with a moisture proof paint and then vented a long time before I used it. I never had a problem with insects in room, but I also sealed it.

 

Every few years pieces which are not worn often should be cleaned to re-freshen. If they are older pieces I try to clean only when it is required.

 

When furs costed $20,000 the care and exceptions of a fur was different.

 

Hope this helped.

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Here's an update. By the way, thanks for the input ReFur. I got a response from a representative at USA Foxx and I've posted it in below. I have yet to hear back from Ann Whatu but I remain hopeful.

 

Mike,

 

Thanks for your email. Your idea sounds great and will work for fur storage as you detailed. One additional feature of the red cedar is it prevents moths, but with your construction, they could not get in anyhow.

 

The other point is you will need to have these furs cleaned and glazed every few years. This process will restore the furs natural oils (that may be lost due to the humidity and heat) back into the fur skin. By doing this process you will double the useful life of the furs from 20-25 years to 40+ years.

 

Best wishes on your project.

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Mike, just remember ReFur's suggestion as well. I had forgotten but she has gone through this not long ago. She HAS experience in it and her experience will be very reliable. And her information will be good as well as she has a lot of very experienced contacts as well. Not saying not to listen to others. Just remember to keep an open mind. I would be especially skeptical of the cedar issue.

 

One thing that I find that clients of furriers often forget. And sometimes furriers themselves. I find that MOST YEARS there is some sort of little tear or a slightly warn clasp or button missing some finish or something that causes the coat to need to have some work done on it. For that work it has to go back to the furrier. Often as mentioned they need to be cleaned. Every other year on average probably. So they have to go back to the furrier for that.

 

So, in short. If a person has enough furs that they can make it worth while your project is great. But if a person only has maybe four or five it is probably going to be way, way, way more hassle to keep going back and forth after building the expensive storage area and paying the cost of running the humidity control, heat, and air circulation than it will be to just put them in storage in the first place.

 

Just a comment in case some other members are thinking of doing this. Also, I would imagine that insurance agencies MIGHT be a bit hesitant to insure the furs in a personal storage area, though probably most agents would NOT understand the issue enough to talk about it.

 

W

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