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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Spit Polish - amylase powderApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-05-13 01:14:12 ... Most recent comment 2018-05-31 23:16:13
    Art Conservation Topics Oil Paint Solvents and Thinners

    I was curious if using amylase powder - available in large amounts, as people use it to convert starch to sugar - can be used to create a more effective cleaning solution for a large area, rather than having to drink water and spit all over an oilpainting's surface?

    Amylase powder it's suposedly the key enzyme in spit that cleans things, so I figured why not create a large batch for a giant surface, rather than having to worry about what I eat or stay hydrated?  "cause sometimes I just want to eat garlic y'know?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Are you attempting to use amylase powder on one of your own paintings?

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-05-13 08:15:32
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    It would likely be my painting if I were to experiment with this, but I've been told that it's actually the chelating agents in spit which make it work., so it now seems like a dead end.

    My first thought, after I heard it was chelating agents which got the job done, was to use edta, as that is the common chelating agent in food, but than I did some reading about the various chelating agents tested, and how to optimize cleaning methods/batches for ph.

    This question seems stupid, but it took me down a rabbit hole.

    Also, my question with regard to garlic also seems stupid, but I know sulfur (which is in garlic and remains in spit for days) + lead = lead sulfide ; thus, if I were to spit polish an unvarnished surface, and the spit were to remain upon and interact with the lead, blackening could occur.

    2018-05-16 17:44:52
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Well my first suggestion would be to take a trip to your local library to read up on the cleaning of oil paintings a bit....specifically look into "The Conservation of Easel Paintings" (eds. Joyce Hill Stoner and Rebecca Rushfield). I say you can certainly try out what you want on your own paintings to see what "works"....but keep in mind you would likely be dealing with relatively young films and obviously the appropriate cleaning solution would depend on WHAT type of oils you are using as well as the specific pigments yes, it gets complicated. But heck....that is why paintings conservators now have to go through grad school these days (AFTER taking TWO semesters of Organic Chemistry!!).

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-05-31 23:16:13

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