Canvas eaten by cockroaches


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Resource Provider
Founding Member
Nov 5, 1997
No fixed address, Australia.
Full time grey nomad traveling Oz!
I have had a canvas stretched and standing in my workshop for a couple of weeks and just noticed today some small pea size areas have been eaten away, probably by cockroaches or something like that. Most of the patches are on the front corner where the canvas rolls around the corner of the wood. The paint is acrylic and most probably very cheap "made in China" paint. It's obviously very tasty!

I now have to fix this for the customer. It is a cheap aboriginal painting that has very little value.

Should it be taken off the stretcher and repaired or left on and be patched up and painted over?
Any specific advice would be appreciated!
I personally suspect silverfish. This damage for sure happened while in your care? You may want to get an exterminator in quick quick, because all your cellulose-based stuff is at risk. Matboards are particularly tasty.
I hate to tell you, but I think it needs to come off the stretchers. It is my observation that it is faster to do it the hard way, because I waste so much time trying to do it the easy way....
Cockroaches feed on protien when avaiable. I had a piece that the artist had used quite a bit of rabbit skin glue in the body of the pigment and the roaches had a feast. Luckily the artist was able to repair the work and gave up on that technology.
They love water based the kind on lick and seal envelopes, and one particular line of mouldings from AMPF that must have had a high glue ratio in the compo.
Pest control is now pest management since the pest control business stopped calling themselves Exterminators.
Are you sure something is eating it, as opposed to the paint just flaking off? I did several of these a few years ago. The customer had them taken off the stretchers in Australia so they could be shipped rolled, but between the cheap canvas, lack of proper pre-treatment, and cheap paint, the painting was cracking and chipping as she unrolled them in front of me. We were able to repair the spots for her, and I was grateful that she saw the condition before I ever touched them so there was no question about proper handling on our end.
Something has definitely eaten it because there are holes in the canvas and other areas where the canvas has partly been eaten away.
Ick---what a shame. I hope you can resolve this without too much trouble and expense. I agree that it would be best to remove it from the stretchers to make the repairs, but fortunately it sounds like most of the holes and repairs will be hidden by the frame when you are finished. Good luck.

Except for the fact that there is not going to be a frame!

You many already have a method in mind, and certainly know this type of artwork better than I do, as I don't know it at all.... But one strategy would be to find a fabric as similar as possible to that of the painting support, and use it either as an underlay for your holes or, using a sharp scalpel, cut inserts to fit into the holes.

Apply underlay with Lascaux HV360 - brush areas that won't show with the adhesive, let dry and set in place with low heat OR, in the case of inserts, use thin backing/patch fabric or Japanese paper using Lascaux as above.

Inpaint using as dry a brush as possible, with as small a brush as possible.

And, of course, get ok from owner before starting.

This is probably teaching grandmother to suck eggs, but hope it helps.

Thanks Rebecca!
I don't know if "Lascaux HV360" is available down here, but I will make some enquiries.
If it's not available, is there any other product that would work?
Keeping in mind that this piece has very little value.
The Lascaux is an acrylic emulsion (white glue) that dried tacky so you can apply to mending tissue or fabric, let dry, and then set in place. Low heat - 60 C or so - can strengthen the bond.

I think any acrylic emulsion medium will soften and tack with heat. I recall it being mentioned on Grumble as way to fabric cover window mats etc. Perhaps a search or perhaps a Grumbler who has actually used this will be able to help.

Good Luck,

Ormond, as Rebecca said, you should have little trouble finding that in any art supply store. Just ask for Acrylic Gloss Medium.
:cool: Rick
Thanks Rebecca and Rick!
Maybe I'm being a bit oversensitive here but if this thread is going to continue for a while, could someone please change its title? I often read the Grumble while I'm eating lunch (and I'll bet a lot of others do too), and the mention of these "creatures" is not conducive to a healthy appetite.
:eek: Rick
I guess that you haven't tried them crispy barbecued, on a sandwich then!
Holy cow, Ormond, please tell me you're joking! Unless you guys have different cockroaches over there, you know, maybe ones that look a lot like chickens...YIKES!
Ormond, we love the chocolate-covered ones! Crunch-crunch-crunch....mmmmmmm.

I surely hope you got the answer to your question by now 'cause it's headin' South quickly!!

Hey those roaches, we used to smoke 'em with a pair of tweezers or an electronics alligator clip back in the 60's. Worked for me back then.

Now we usually deep fry the huge roaches down here in Paradise. They come from 3/4" up to almost 3" and they fly. Some call them Palmetto bugs but they are all roaches to me! Catch 'em live, drop 'em into a rolling boil pan of fat for about 20 seconds and they are done. If done correctly the insides get to the consistency of medium cooked scrambled eggs.

If they "POP" you blew it. They shouldn't explode so ya gotta watch the fire and the fat and be ready to scoop 'em out in a moment's notice.

I prefer mine dipped in homemade Ranch or Hot Wing sauce but to each his own.

(Hey Rick, how'ya feelin'??)

Crispy fried, then ground in a mortar and pestle and sprinkled over grilled Koala leg chops...YUM, YUM, YUMMMY!
You guys have got to be kidding! Please... you are kidding? People eat some weird stuff here, like pig stomach and scrapple... but we pretty much draw the line at large insects. Maybe the occasional earthworm as a small child... but roaches?!?!?!?! Ewwwwwwwwwww.

I guess it serves 'em right, if their eating your customers work, what better revenge!
'Convenience' sweet n' sour insects .............

Place 1 small ramekin of jam or syrup and one of tomato chutney in microwave, leave door open leave kitchen light off. (so microwave light attracts non jam/chutney loving insects)

Wait 45 mins - one hour.

Close microwave door and nuke on high power for 30 seconds.

This provides a nutrituos snack AND a dip with a nice variety of texture, smaller bugs will be crunchy, larger ones may still have a pulse.


(Dang, should have put this one in the Grumble cookbook)
22 posts and no one has used this little guy yet! He has a lot of ground to make up!

Don't look!!