Monday, February 9, 2009

TIP: Repairing Canvas Dimples and Divots


What do you do if your canvas gets dented? Depends on how bad it is.

First, I want to say that not every factoid Cindy and I possess is related to clumsiness. We know LOADS of other stuff, k? Just wanted to make that clear.

OK, so your painting has clattered to the floor, gotten stabbed by a brush, or had other stuff leaned on it. These tips relate to canvas, not linen, because I don't know anything about linen.

1. If there's a big wavy potbelly in the middle: It might be that your frame is out of square. Try using the keys that come with canvases to re-square it. Tap those puppies into the voids created at the junctures. If you flip them over, they'll either lay flat against a brace, or stick out into the middle. I can't see any difference other than aesthetic.

Measure from corner to corner to see if you're in square. The measurements should be the same. If you're not out of square but still have a potbelly or wave, then try restretching. Carefully remove the canvas and stretch onto new bars. And heaven help you, because this is no easy feat. Next time buy a better canvas.

2. If you actually poked a big hole in it: Oh man. Really, what you should do is get to a conservator to mend the canvas. Repairing canvas tears is not for the untrained - any patch would change the way canvas expands and contracts with the weather and you'd see it from the front in a right hurry.

If this is not an heirloom - repaint it. Sorry.

3. If you poked a really TEENY hole in it: If it's really small, I mean like almost no more than a pen nib size, You can probably use one of the methods in #4. But I wouldn't sell it.

3. If there's a divot, dimple or ridge: Don't panic! You can probably fix this. Look very closely to make sure you haven't separated the cross fibers (as in #3). If you have, then use a pin or embroidery needle from the back and poke the fibers back into order before you continue.

First, mist the back with water. Not like a huge amount, just as much as you would use if you were ironing. If you don't know how to iron, this is a pump sprayer 2-squeeze-from-18-inches- away sort of mist.

Then, the old credit card trick: Use a credit card to smooth the ridge, divot, dimple. If there's no painting on there yet, you can do this from both sides.

Let it dry, preferably in the sun so the warmth can help those fibers retighten. Even if the credit card didn't pull it out entirely, let the drying do its work before you go much farther. Chances are good they fibers will become taut, but if they don't you can repeat the process.

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  1. Hi. This is useful. Just one question - in what way do you use the credit card?

  2. Hi there - the credit card is used on its edge to scrape across the dimple. Sort of like buttering toast.

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