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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Removable Adhesive suggestionsApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-08-31 01:46:50 ... Most recent comment 2017-09-01 17:51:00
    Oil Paint


    I am in the process of gluing earth magnets (and /or metal strips) to the backside (at the top) of both paper and canvas based paintings as a way to hang the works from metal screws. Is there an adhesive that you can recommend that could be both secure, and removable without damaging the support? 

    In the future I'd like the option to remove the magnets/ metal strips for more traditional framing options, and am looking for an adhesive that has these properties.

    (The paintings are oil on canvas, and oil on arches oil ready paper.)


Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    The applicability of adhesives for this purpose is sort of out my area of expertise, but I do wonder if you could not just use a magnet on both the back and on the front of the work. They would hold each other in place. The hooks could be held into place by the magnet on the front. This would allow you a removable system that would not involve adding an adhesive that will likely be very difficult to completely remove without changing the feel of the canvas and/or paper as well as any possible darkening of the adhesive residue over time.

    Brian Baade
    2017-08-31 11:17:42
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks for the help here. I did want to avoid a magnet on the front but agree with your suggestion of a simpler approach. My current work around is taping the magnet on the back.

    But I am still curious about glue/ adhesive that is removable, perhaps asking this adhesive to also adhere to a magnet is tricky. In a similar manner, I would like to temporarily glue paper and/or canvas supports to additional canvas for a more robust support while hanging on the wall as previously described. 

    Are PVA's glues and or gel mediums, removable in this context? 

    What adhesive would you recommend for a piece that will be 're-lined' in 2 years (adhering paper to canvas, canvas to canvas, paper to paper.)?

    Are there resources I am missing that might cover some of this process?

    Mille Grazie

    2017-09-01 15:51:11
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer


    I do understand about not wanting to have a magnet on the front. Additionally, while I did not mention this in my last post, there are always issues of too much weight and stress when adhering heavy materials to un stretched and even stretched flexible supports. I only wrote what I did because I am not sure that there are really any adhesives that are both strong enough to hold relatively heavy materials like either rare earth magnets or metal strips that would really truly reversible (in the sense that their presence or residue would be invisible when removed) if they can be removed. I suggested the magnetic answer even though it may cause undue weight stress if not used judiciously; it is the only way that I can imagine such an attachment without long-term residual problems. Again, this may also cause long-term structural problems if the substrate cannot handle the weight or stress.

    However, I am a lowly painting conservator who focuses on traditional paintings. Those well versed in objects conservation, mount making, and the conservation of contemporary art may have simple answers that I am not able to provide. We will shoot some of our contacts well versed in these areas an email to see if they can offer you some more useful advice.

    Brian Baade
    2017-09-01 17:51:00
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    I can only really answer regarding adhesives on paper, as paintings on canvas are not my area of expertise. Unfortunately, I do not think there are adhesives which are both reversible and strong enough to hold a magnet to the back of the paper. I would also imagine the heaviness of the magnets would cause distortion in the paper over time. One suggestion I have would be to adhere Japanese paper tabs to the paper with wheat starch paste, and then adhere the other end of the tab to the magnet using a stronger adhesive; this way, the tabs could be removed fairly easily from the paper support or cut away from the magnet when you want to remount. I'm not sure if this would be what you are going for aesthetically, though. 

    Gillian Marcus
    2017-09-02 11:00:42
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​A critical issue in maintenance of the coating on the magnets, to prevent oxidation.  The magnets can be enclosed in pouches of Washi, or similarly strong paper and the edges of the pouch can be attached to the art with starch. You can heat bond the Washi to a spun bond  material, to ensure that the verso of the magnet pouch can stand up to traffic, while leaving enough Washi exposed at the edges to provide hinging areas. I worked this out for the Guggenheim, when I was consulting, there, but don’t know weather they ever used it. The metal in the wall must also be oxidation proof and the magnets can be released with a stack of similar magnets. 
    Hugh Phibbs

    2017-09-03 11:26:54
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​​Thank you for the great suggestions. I will have to pick up some Washi and wheat starch paste for removable adhesive. 

    2017-09-06 01:32:35

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