Removing Textile Patches from Canvas

Author: Katarina Debeljak
Mentors: Tamara Ukrainčik, Associate Professor; Maja Sučević Miklin, Assistant Lecturer 

Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb (Croatia)
Study programme: Integrated undergraduate and graduate course of study in conservation-restoration of works of art
Specialization: Easel paintings (3rd year of study)


Katarina DebeljakThis presentation covers a brief introduction of a canvas that is traditionally used as textile support in easel painting and shows the process of treating tears and holes and making patches, depending on the type of damage. The discussion about this process will include mention of adhesives that are used in restoring canvas, both the traditional (like bees wax and resins) and more recent ones (like Beva 371, Plexisol P 550-40), as well as their basic characteristics. The presentation will focus on the exercise of removing fabric inlays and patches that are glued on the canvas. The purpose of the exercise is to show the best ways of removing old treatments and the problems that may appear during the process. Through an exploration of this experimental procedure, different types of canvases, adhesives, solvents and materials will be discussed. In the beginning, canvas as a support was used only for decorative reasons. There was no intention that it would become permanent. Over time, it was determined that canvas had an advantage over wooden support because it was lighter in weight, and therefore, more easily transferred. Throughout the boom of oil painting hemp fabric was used almost exclusively, though later, other lower quality types such as cotton, jute, and more recently, some new industrial kind of canvases were employed. The experimental process will include widely used canvas supports like linen and cotton.Also, the exercise will include some synthetic fabric products which are used today. Their quality and durability differ depending on the manufacturerand raw material. The presentation will show the spectrum of available adhesives as well as their role in the conservation of canvas support. Some of the adhesives that will be mentioned are beeswax, starch, starch paste, synthetic wax, Beva 371, polyvinyl acetate (PVAC), and acrylic resin (Lascaux 360 HV, Lascaux 498 HV, Plextol B500,Plextol D360, Plextol D498, Schweispulver Kremer 9780, Plexisol P550-40). The use of solvents and other approaches of removing old patches and inlays will also be covered in this presentation. In conservation-restoration work, the adhesives' specific properties, such as strength of adhesive bond, reversibility, low viscosity, must be known. Solvents are usually used to remove adhesives. The choice of solvent depends on several factors, such as the effect of dissolving, evaporation rate, viscosity, as well as environmental protection and the health of conservators. An important factor is the ability of a solvent to remove some of materials, while others stay unsolved. The exercise will also present examples of different types of canvas patches and inlays that were found on paintings.

The author has not submitted the paper.


Short biography

KATARINA DEBELJAK was born on April 15th, 1994 in Banja Luka, BiH. She attended elementary school in Dugo Selo, Croatia, between 2001 and 2009. She enrolled into the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2013, Department of Conservation of Works of Art. At this moment, she is on her 3rd year of studies. She was awarded for the successful work during the academic year 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.