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Good afternoon, I need your help. I am painting a large format work (200 x 150 cm) with acrylic and the section of the windows has a kind of collage, which in this case is a transfer of acrylic skin adhered with softgel on the canvas. I am working with the canvas without stretched canvas with a frame (normally I paint on the wall and my works "fall" like tapestries, in this specific work I am using a frame only as support during the production stage).So far so good, except that my fabric gathered almost two centimeters from the side where I put the sogt gel to glue the windows. I send photos in this email. I'm quite concerned about how I can make the fabric "give" back to its original size or at least get close to that size. I'm not sure if this will happen when I paint the whole piece and the canvas absorbs some paint in the spaces that are still unpainted... but I suspect not. I wondered if ironing on the reverse side would help but I have a feeling it might melt the soft gel. Please, any advice to fix the situation will be very helpful.Best
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I'm not 100% sure I understood your problem, so I'm assuming your acrylic glue drying retracted in ways that made the flat cloth go completely wrinkly-uneven.
Acrylics (and any latex binder) drying will shrink slightly. On unstretched cloth or paper, that can mean pulling it into oversized wrinkles.
The following advice is theoretical thinking, I've never done it myself. I'd say that's the best advice I can come up with but it's not from experience, only theory.
They are thermoplastic polymers so you might have the tiny chance to set this straight by ironing it above its glass transition temperature gently. Very gently.
What you would require to do is stretch it good flat on a frame, then wet your acrylics that shrank until they keep some water absorbed, that soften them up a little, and also make them more peelable so be careful.
Then iron it gently through a damp cloth, not in direct contact. Basically you want to "make the muscles relax" with humidity and heat, not dry burn them.
If you carefully 'massage' the tensed acrylics long enough, the polymers will slowly realign to lower their inner tension. If you're lucky, after enough humid massaging, the acrylics will stay as they are then.
We would not suggest ironing your painting, as the heat and pressure of the iron will likely create imprints in the acrylic skin and flatten or deform it. If you would like to work with heat, you could try using a hair dryer. Stretch the canvas first onto a stretcher frame though. If you continue to paint the entire canvas with acrylic products, it is likely, that the canvas will shrink evenly. For the future, you could prime your canvases first with a 'clear gesso', such as Fluid Matte Medium. This will lock the weft and warp of the canvas yarns in place and also shrink the canvas evenly. A primed canvas should be less prone to the type of deformation you are dealing with now.
In case you want to leave parts of your canvas uncovered, you could try stretching the piece and then brushing water onto the entire surface with a clean brush. The water should relax the canvas fibers and overall, the canvas might slacken, so you would have to re-stretch, but the tension in the canvas should even out.
We hope this is helpful, and we are here when you have more questions!
Mirjam Auf der Mauer
Materials and Application Specialist Golden Artist Colors Inc.