Next time, label DO NOT CRUSH
August 13, 2009 4:48 PM   Subscribe

How do I smooth out creases in a fairly fresh oil painting?

An artist sent me a large painting in the mail rolled up in a tube, but the box was crushed and the tube got flattened at one point. It's far from ruined and the paint didn't crack or anything when I unrolled it, but there are faint creases running down the entire length of the painting where it was flattened.

The painting isn't on canvas, it's on some kind of heavy duty upholstery fabric. It was painted recently enough that I could smell oil paint when I took it out of the box. I tacked it up on the wall from the top in hopes that gravity might help, but I'd like to see if I can do anything about the creases before I actually stretch it back onto a frame.

Any suggestions? I'm not planning on paying to have it restored -- the damage isn't that great -- but home remedies would be awesome.

(Here is the painting, incidentally...)
posted by hermitosis to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Stretching it on a stretcher as normal will remove the creases.
posted by fire&wings at 4:52 PM on August 13, 2009

Best answer: seconded. an art store (not a craft/hobby all purpose one) may be able to help you get the frame the right size and have the equipment to stretch it for you if it's a non-standard size.

Since you're not actually stretching it to paint on it or anything you can also just use a piece of plywood cut to size.

There's a hand tool used to stretch canvas, though, so it's super-taught. That's why I recommend an art store, as they're not cheap and it seems a silly investment if you only plan to use it this one time.
posted by Kellydamnit at 4:56 PM on August 13, 2009

Best answer: The heavy substrate will give support to the oil film, but the oil film isn't very flexible. Mounting it on the wall and letting it rest was smart. If you remove it from the wall, some sort of rigid support will be a good idea. Oil films can take a very long time to dry depending on the color, and are still oxidizing. You might try gently smoothing out the fabric over an extended time period.
posted by effluvia at 5:23 PM on August 13, 2009

If you do stretch it on stretcher bars, do it gently - overstretching could cause the paint film to crack (if not immediately, possibly over time as the film hardens) As was mentioned, let it hang and slowly readjust.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:29 PM on August 13, 2009

I used to ship a lot of paintings that were painted on muslin (similar to canvas) and what we would do in lieu of stretching it is to lightly wet the back of the painting with a damp sponge, and then tack it up on the wall. As the painting dried it would naturally stretch away some of the creases.
posted by extrabox at 8:33 PM on August 13, 2009

Also, is the fabric cotton? Traditionally, canvas/cotton can be loosely stretched then slightly moisened from the (unprimed) rear of the work. This would tighten the weave - gently. But if it is synth. fabric - that might not work.

Hermitosis: mefi mail me - I'll have some time in the morning
posted by R. Mutt at 8:42 PM on August 13, 2009

Response by poster: It's a synth fabric. I was told by someone at the art supply store to be careful about moistening the back of an oil painting anyway, because it could result in mold growing under the paint...
posted by hermitosis at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2009

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