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I work in mixed media and sometimes add collage elements after I have already used oil paint. Since conventional adhesives cannot be used on top of oil, I use the oil paint itself as the adhesive. Sometimes I mix in impasto. The materials I am collaging are lightweight, typically fabric or ribbon. If I am using a natural fiber, I seal it first to prevent erosion from contact with the oil. Can anyone tell me if this is a good method, or recommend any alternatives? I am concerned about collaged elements falling off over time. Thank you.
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Drying oils are not great adhesives on their own. The lightweight
nature of your collaged elements is in your favor but it is possible that they
could fall off in the future. This would depend on a number of factors
including how well they are covered in the oil paint, etc.
There are certainly adhesives that could be applied over the
oil paint but I would worry that they may yellow strongly over time or even
worse, could create very brittle regions that would respond to changes in the environment
in a very different manner than the rest of the painting. This could possible
cause bulges or even cracking.
The most careful practice would be to adhere the objects to
the canvas first using an acrylic dispersion medium (acrylic dispersions, on
the other hand. are very good adhesives) applying your oil paint. This does not
sound like the manner in which you are working so it may not be applicable in
this instance. Perhaps other commentators have additional ideas or thoughts on
Hi - Just to be upfront, this a very brand-specific recommendation coming out of our own attempts to provide some options to this common question. We do not have long-term testing around these recommendations, so it is shared very much in the spirit of thinking-outside-the-box and you would need to feel comfortable taking on some unknown level of risk.
A custom product we make called MSA Gel, which has limited distribution, could act as an adhesive and should adhere to well cured oil paints - especially if they are matte or have been lightly sanded to provide some tooth. You can read about this product here:
The advantage this could have is that it is flexible, will not affect anything that is water sensitive, and will retain good clarity. Downsides - it is solvent based and has a strong odor in the wet state, and will remain solvent sensitive. So if used you would want to make note of it so any future conservator was aware of the problem.
Again, it is not a well-tested use of this product, but in this case where there are limited options, it might provide an additional tool to use. We would recommend doing your own testing before committing to anything large-scale or off value. We would also not recommend using this interleafed with additional layers of oils as the structure of the painting becomes extremely complex at that point, with a permanently flexible layer sandwiched in between ones that will grow stiffer.
Hope that helps.