Mold on Canvas


Nov 17, 2004
Houston, TX
Does anyone have any suggestions for removing mold from the back of a canvas?
Now see? This is where we must repeat to ourselves, over and over. "We are Framers. We are not conservators. We are not carpenters. We are not plasterers. We are not auto mechanics. We are framers." OK, we may like to piddle around a little in each of those fields, but it is my contention that if I have to ask how to do it, I shouldn't be doing it...
Hello all,

I originally posted this on my wife's computer.

I was actually asking the question to try to deal with some problems with my own artwork from a few years ago. I don't intend to be a conservator, carperter, or anything else; but I certainly don't intend to limit my activities to things that I currently know how to do.
Well, that certainly was a heartfelt outpouring of assistance for a new member to The Grumble.
mickdermesser, the message here is that we framers should not dabble in conservation work, and there are good reasons for that.

For one thing, conservation work involves directly treating the artwork itself. We can replace a frame moulding or a matboard or an art print, but we can not replace an original painting if we screw up. It's a done deal.

Conservation work is an intricate, deliberate, complicated scientific specialty. That is why most conservators are college educated scientists with years of experience working with other experts, before they work alone.

We framers are encouraged to learn more about related endeavors, but conservation is one area where we need to tread very, very carefully. Most of us framers do not know enough to judge the hazards of specific treatments -- chemically or mechanically. What we don't know, could come back to bite us later.

PS: Welcome to The G. :D
Keeping Jim's cautions in mind, the first thing
to do with anything with mold on it is to get it
drier. You also want to be sure that the mold
does not get to other places: your shop or your
lungs, your eyes, etc. You can take the painting
out doors on a day with reasonalbe temperature
and humidity and gently brush the mold spores
off the canvas, so that they to down wind and away
from you. This assumes that what you are dealing
with is soft and loosely bonded to the canvas.

Thanks for the clarification and advice.

As you all probably know, artists have a fairly cavalier attitude about their artwork; and I am no exception. Of course, I use an obsessive level of care with other folks artwork.
Originally posted by mickdermesser:
...artists have a fairly cavalier attitude about their artwork; and I am no exception...
I've often wondered about that phenomenon. Is it because the artist values the creation more than the result? Or, is it that the artist knows the/she can make a similar creation again at will? Or is it something else that makes artists seem to be less concerned about their artworks than we are?
In my case, I think it has something to do with the search for my voice. Every painting brings me closer to the right line, brush stroke, color, texture, mood, etc. All of the work that led up to the last painting represents steps along the way, but not the ultimate destination.

Many artists destroy their early work for this reason, when those are often the works most highly valued by collectors.
Good question, Jim. I'm sure we've all seen the same phenomenon. Artists would say some thing like "Mat over this part of the watercolor; I don't like it.", while I'm standing there wishing I could paint something half as good as the part they want to hide.

Welcome to the Grumble, Mick. It's always interesting to hear from the people who produce what the rest of us are putting into frames.