A common problem for oil paintings that make their way into our is a dry canvas. Some of this stems from the age of the painting and the natural degradation that can occur. In addition to this, archival practices have improved throughout the years; but, then again, shocker, artists don’t always play by the rules or seek-out the best archival practices while the muses are speaking them. And then more traumatic occurrences can occur, like flood damage, and those can also take a heavy toll.
Despite the cause, one of the best practices is to adhere new archival linen to the reverse. We make an in-house adhesive, that is quite pungent, and heat it to a liquid that we can then spread. Often times this process is done later in the day when foot traffic in the studio is at a minimum, or when the weather cooperates we can wheel our nifty worktable outside and work under the influence of some fresh air.
Adhesive is applied to one side of the new linen, and to the back of the painting, and then the two are sandwiched together, and “cooked” in a heat press. The result is a tremendously good foundation for the painting, with the added benefit, curtesy of the pressure in the heat press, of consolidating the paint film where nasty craquelures might have occurred. At this point, the paint film is now ready for further restoration.
Bonus question: How do you reline a canvas that has a painting on both sides?
Answer: You edge-line it. Instead of covering the whole painting you place strips along the edge.