Lesson #242: How to patch canvas (or how I spent last Monday night)
So every once in awhile, I get a little overzealous, and um… ‘damage’ a canvas. Usually in the form of a rip. Considering prestretched canvas is expensive, (especially because I don’t have the time, energy, or gumption to stretch my own) I formulated a way to repair it.
Here is my most recent victim:
To patch your canvas, you will need the following (most likely you have these already):
- Acrylic medium
- Acrylic paint (I’m using black)
- Raw canvas
- A brush
- A palette knife
- Several large books (or something very heavy)
- A drop cloth – this is optional, you can use more of the raw canvas as well.
- Beer (Any German pilsner or wheat will do)
- Bottle opener
- The ripped canvas
This is a pretty fast process, so you only need a couple minutes.
- Open the beer. Drink.
- Brush some acrylic medium on the rip of the damaged canvas. be sure to cover all edges, putting any threads that have separated from the canvas back in line. As you do this, you will notice the thickness of the medium starts to create a bond. Do this first on the back of the canvas, then the front. Smooth out any large deposits of medium that seep though on the front to maintain a smooth finish.
- With the palette knife, place some paint on the back of the canvas. Be generous.
- Cut a piece of raw canvas just bigger than the area to be patched. Place this on the back of the canvas right on top of the paint.
- With your palette knife, place some paint on the small piece of canvas and smooth it out. You will feel the paint underneath moving a bit. This is okay, but try to keep the patch as still as possible.
- Drink some beer.
- You should notice that the paint is more or less keeping things together now. If not, use more paint. You should be able to tilt the canvas now and examine the front. Carefully smooth out any large deposits that have come through the rip. Optionally, you can brush on more paint if you wish to to ‘seal’ the rip on the front. Do this fairly quickly as not to risk the integrity of the canvas recently applied to the back.
- Flip your canvas back over and place some paper on the patch (note to protect your floor with a drop cloth or some raw canvas).
- Make sure your canvas is level and place the books or heavy object on the paper. Make sure you have significant weight on the canvas part itself and not the stretcher bars. Also make sure you aren’t tweaking the stretched canvas elsewhere with the weight. Notice my doctor’s office blue drop cloth.
- Finish your beer
- Go dancing at Deathguild
Let the above dry over night. Depending on temperatures and humidity, the patch should now be dry enough to pick up the canvas. Do this very carefully as some paint may have seeped through, adhering the canvas to the drop cloth, but should still be pliable as not to cause an issue. This will give you some time to examine the front of the piece and make any minor adjustments. If you do have any unsightly deposits of paint, you can smooth them out (very carefully) with your palette knife. Remember, the patch is not fully dry yet! You will see a ‘scar’, but don’t worry about perfection yet. Set it out to dry fully.
This is what the finished patch will look like. Notice the ‘scar’ detail. You can now slather on a bunch of paint to hide it, or use it as an effect in your composition. I took the picture with a flash to highlight the texture:
Good as new!