Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reader Question: Storing the Art, Part 1 - Flat Files

Safco flat files

When I wrote about sheet music storage cabinets, Cynthia Friedlob commented:

There are flat files available for fine art storage, but these cabinets also would serve very nicely for smaller work.

I'm certain that you could find some unusual art storage systems in your online travels, so maybe you'd consider a post devoted to them -- or have you done one already? Heaven knows artists need help organizing!

Wow - I've never written about art storage! Let's fix that. And I'll start with flat files, for those who don't know about them, and move on to other options.

Flat files can be found through art supply stores: Dick Blick Art Materials, Utrecht Art Supplies, Madison Art Shop, and many more. You can also find them at drafting equipment stores, such as Drafting Equipment Warehouse.

Safco is one of the major providers of steel flat files - those are Safco files at the top. Facil flat files are made by Safco. [photo from]

red Safco flat file

You can get them in a range of colors. [Photo from Ambience Dore.]

Richeson flat file, Oak

Jack Richeson and Company makes oak flat files. [photo from Rex Art Supplies]

taboret - work surface and flat files

The Kate Palmer taboret, a combination of work surface and flat files, is part of Richeson's BEST line.

painted flat file

Another brand you'll see is SMI (a leading manufacturer of wood architectural and engineering furniture for over 25 years, according to the Mercantila web site) SMI makes (among other things) unfinished natural birch flat files - so you can take a basic file and make it a work of art. [photo from Dick Blick Art Supply; painting by Casey Riordan Millard]

Mayline flat file

Mayline makes both steel and wood flat files, called "plan files" on the Mayline web site. [photo from Hertz Furniture Systems] Standard colors are sand beige, white, gray, or black - but you can get them in other colors, too. Hamilton files are made by Mayline.

Bieffe flat file

Bieffe flat files come from Italy, and you can buy them through Art Supply Warehouse.

Frid Furniture flat file

A smaller company is Frid Furniture, which is still getting its web site in place. However, you can see the company's wood flat files on eBay. Update on June 14, 2009: The Frid Furniture web site is in place - and you can also still see the furniture on eBay.


Cynthia Friedlob said...

Thanks for the great assortment of flat files, Jeri!

I've decided that everything I buy in the future will be on wheels, if that's feasible. Should I ever again have the space for a huge hunk o' furniture like a big flat file storage system, it definitely will be on wheels.

I'm fond of an industrial look so the steel files appeal to me. But it's interesting to see that there are more traditional-looking wood options.

Nice hunting, as usual!

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks, Cynthia! The next post will deal with options that take less floor space than a flat file.

Anne W said...

Good research, but you might want to comment on which files are acid free and which not, ie some (like Safeco)are "non-archival" if that is important to folks. I think that the wood, which are handsome, also tend to leach tannins long term if one were storing paper or fabric. Balancing the look with cost and still trying to get acid-free storage is a challenge!

Jeri Dansky said...

Anne W, you raise a very good point. Those who need archival-quality storage should definitely ask the vendor about any product they are considering.

And here's another flat-file vendor to consider: ArchiveDesigns, Inc.

Leah, The Used Art Supplies Lady said...

I personally love the SMI, it's a blank piece, so you can make it yours and create a work of art at the same time. Wheels are absolutely mandatory in my opinion, these are big storage pieces, to be able to move them where you need them, and move them easily, is the deciding purchase factor for this artist!