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Unstable Structure - Restretching, localised flattening and patching

Unstable Structure - Restretching, localised flattening and patching

Unstable Structure - Restretching, localised flattening and patching

The structure of a painting is very important, because it’s the only thing that’s supporting the layer of paint, and so that’s what we focused on and dealt with in this blog post. The tacking margins (the outer edges of the canvas that are attached with metal tacks around the sides of the stretcher) of Rosa Markham’s portrait were in a really bad condition, especially along the sides. A lot of tacks were missing or loose and some of them had even broken off and fallen down between the canvas and the stretcher bars, which caused several holes and dents on the bottom edge. In the photo taken under raking light, it can be seen clearly that the loose edges affected the tension of the canvas quite seriously. It clearly caused ‘quilting’ in the paint layer, starting from top right corner to the bottom edge, and also several lumps on the canvas.

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So, for the first step, the painting was removed from the stretcher, and those tacks which were unstable and broken were removed. The reverse side of the canvas was cleaned before being strip-lined with a layer of Beva Tex.

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This is a support made of non-woven fabric and adhesive, which helps to strengthen the fragile and torn edge of the canvas and prevent it being damaged when the canvas was re-stretched back onto the original stretcher. The tension of the painting was then able to be adjusted into an appropriate condition using the stretcher keys, which widen the joints around the edge of the stretcher.

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Some of the lost or damaged keys were replaced with new ones, which had been laser-cut to the right size and tinted with natural dye to get a uniform appearance on the reverse of the painting.

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As mentioned in the previous blog post, there was a puncture in the middle of the painting which caused small amounts of paint and fabric losses, and the surrounding area was slightly distorted/deformed. It was flattened with a heated spatula and patched with a piece of Beva Tex from the back. The edge of the patch was cut into a circular zigzag shape in order to reduce the pressure to the canvas when the materials aged in the future.  

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Take a look at the results...

5 15 7 Raking Light Of The Whole Painting After Re Stretching The Canvas

Last updated on 22 August 2023