"dent" in canvas???

Mike LeCompte CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Jul 20, 2005
Knoxville TN
Customer brought in a stretched canvas with a "dent" in it--like someone dropped something on it. You can't tell from the front but there's a small indentation on the back.

Anyway to repair easily, or are we talking about restoration? There is no hole, altho you can see some of the canvas "threads" have separated.

Help would be appreciated
Just mist the back of the painting with a little bit of water. when the water evaporated, it will flatten out the canvas.
Unless the separating warp or wefts break with the added tension during drying. :eek:

If you can't see the dent from the front, why not just leave well enough alone. Or let the client deal with it in whatever way they wish - i.e. let them mist it if they're feeling lucky, or contact a paintings conservator.


"There's nothing so bad we can't make it worse"
As I understand, water on the back of a canvas is the WORST thing you can do to it. If it has a water based ground the paint coud lift off.

You are framers, not restorers (nor magicians for that matter).

Don't do what you can't undo and don't practice on customers stuff.
I have misted the backs of many different paintings, all either Acrylic, or Oil done on Canvas. If they are still on their original stretcher bars, there should be no problem. This is not a fix for ALL dents, but he described a small dent. If the amount of water is a light mist, it should not shrink the canvas too tight.

I know that I am not a conservator, but I have been in the arts and crafts field for 28 years. I learned this trick of misting the back of the canvas from a book WRITTEN by the Frederics canvas company. One would hope that they know how to treat their own product.
OK Susan,another question: after I mist, do I let it alone? Put a little weight on it in hopes of "flattening" it? Or just leave it alone?
If the dent doesn't show, doing nothing entails
no risk, while humidification opens up the "What
have I done, now!" possibility, as Rebecca and
Greg, suggested.

Hugh: thanks for entering the discussion. This is apparently a canvas that will perhaps gain in value over the next years or decades and customer is concerned this "dent" will detract in its value. As Isaid, doesn't show from the front only the back.

Would love to get rid of it totally but obviously want to "do no harm" as a wise Greek once said.
In answer to the question. And again, this is ONLY if it is a minor dent. Leave it alone! No weight that might force the paint to crack, just time to dry.

And as always, when in doubt, don't touch it. Send it to a conservator.