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My cousin did a pair of acrylic paintings for my mother for Christmas, and wrapped the canvases with wrapping paper, with no intermediary layer (yeah, I know... yikes). Unsurprisingly, the paper stuck to the paint, particularly near the edges. I know acrylic films have a glass transition temperature that is pretty close to room temperature, and therefor there's always a chance that wrapping material will stick, even if the paint is well-cured.
I've sent my cousin a link to where she can purchase glassine paper, but in the meantime, I'd like to take a shot at salvaging these paintings, if it's possible. This isn't the sort of thing that my mother or cousin would hire a professional to do--if they get ruined, then so be it. My cousin says she will repaint them, if necessary.
So, conservators: if you were going to try to remove paper that is stuck to the surface of an (unvarnished, and also unsealed) acrylic painting, how would you go about doing it? Swab with some sort of solvent? Water? Something else?
Thanks! And Happy Holidays! :)
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Sorry to hear this.
Honestly, these are the type of questions that we generally
refuse to answer here. However, your qualifier has made me bend the rules a
bit. I am not sure if this will work and I would not suggest anything else
I would place the painting face up in a room with good ventilation. With a
brush, I would apply odorless mineral spirits to the face of the wrapping paper
until it is saturated and transparent. Let is set for a minute of two and see if you can gently
remove the paper from the painting surface starting at an edge. If it does
begin to lift without damage try to remove the paper at a 180-degree angle so
that there is little upwards pull on the painting surface. Stop immediately if
you encounter any real resistance. Sorry that is all that I am comfortable suggesting.
Perhaps others want to comment.
Like Brian, these are not situations we would normally advise anyone other than the artist - when willing - to attempt a repair because of the risk of damage. Brian's suggestion of mineral spirits should certainly not harm the painting, although there could always be some change to surface sheen as a result of the initial sticking and removal. If that occurs it can often be rectified with a varnish, but then that itself can alter the aesthetic of the piece and is something to consult the artist on. One word about future wrapping and shipping - we have not had a great track record with glassine and if anything HAD to touch the surface of a painting, we would personally recommend silicone release paper. But ideally, and what is our strongest recommendation, is to pack and store paintings so that no packing material touches the surface. This is possible to do if willing to create a shipping collar that creates a raised edge around the painting that can then support a cover or at least keep any wrapping material up away from the surface. A high-end solution to this can be found on the Canadian Conservation Institute's website:
And we share a much more casual example in a video that could be suitable for smaller works:
Hope that helps.
Thanks Sarah. I would normally just sent the question to you
to see if you wanted to respond but thought against it on Christmas day.
info. Silicone release paper or silicone release Mylar are certainly the safest
way to wrap a painting if it has to have something touch the surface. We use
yards and yards of the SR Mylar in paintings conservation
As you write, it is always preferable to come up with a
system that allows the work to travel and does not touch the painted surface at
Additionally, to the OP, if these simple attempts do not remedy
the problem, please advise them to consult a paintings conservator rather than
attempt addition DIY methods.
Thanks for the advice! I totally understand not wanting to encourage amateur repair work, but my cousin's directive to me was "See what you can do, or just toss them," so a professional repair was off the table. They are both small, abstract pieces, and I don't think they were a large time investment for her. All the same, they are nice, and I wanted to try to salvage them, if possible.
I'll try using mineral spirits. If there is any change in surface gloss, I'll seal and varnish the paintings, as per Golden's typical recommendation. (Actually, I should probably do that anyway). And I'll pass on your recommendation about the silicone release paper, Briane--thanks!