Tear in canvas



How do you fix a tear in an oil painting canvas w/o a conservator?

Before you shake your head, and tsk, tsk, this is a pc. that I am doing for my parents, and we like it more than they do. Read- I can mess this up, and the world won't end.

The rip is about 3 inches long, looks like it was cut, actually, sort of like a buttonhole?

The usual technique is to take the canvas off the stretchers, and lay it flat, face down. Cut a piece of similar canvas the right size for a patch. Glue it in place with miracle muck, and dry it under weight (I use a folded rag t-shirt with an iron on top) Then restretch it.

Fill any gap left in the tear on the front with gesso, and touch up the paint.
Anything you do should be easily reversible and miracle muck (or other "white glue") is a high solids PVA adhesive that would be difficult to remove.

If you want to practice conservation, I suggest that you use BEVA or another recognized conservation adhesive that is easily removable.

When lying the piece face down, it should be on a solid (hard)surface - not a carpeted work table - lined with release paper. One big advantage to BEVA is that once it has cooled, you can work with the piece and do not have to wait for a glue to dry.

A bit dated, but still a good resource is:

Plenderlith, HJ and AEA Werner. The Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art;
Treatment, Repair, and Restoration. London: Oxford University Press, 1971. ...
I was taught to use beeswax to fuse the canvas patch to the painting. Lay the piece face down on a hard surface covered with craft paper. Lay the patch on and melt the beeswax through the patch and in to the paintings canvas.

Then you can fill and inpaint the tear.
Beeswax soaks right into the canvas, and can darken the paint. It is very difficult to reverse.

Beva's better than beeswax, but even easer (and safer)would be to make a thin repair on the reverse using Japanese paper brushed with Lascaux HV 360. When the Lascaux on Japnaes paper dries, dries, it remains tacky and can be used like a pressure sensitive tape. A very little heat will increase the bond. More easily reversible than Beva and certainly less expensive than buying the whole roll of Beva film.

This would be ideal for the clean edged cut Gumbogirl describes.

Thank you!
Another advantage of Lascaux 360 is the fact that
it is flexible and tacky due to the design of the
polymers used to make it and not due to anything
that has been added to it. This keeps it simple
and thus, safer to use.