Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flaking on Paintings 3 good tips for art collectors

by Eleanor Nelson, Guest Blogger

Flaking paint may start in quantities too small to see. In this way it can be a problem that is easy to miss, and exacerbate. The natural (even well-intentioned) urge to clean a painting tends, unfortunately, to manifest in wiping the surface down. This should never be done, whether the cloth used is wet or dry. A damp cloth can cause canvas to expand and contract which leads to further flaking and result in damage rather quickly.

Even a dry cloth, however, can do damage. Areas of flaking that only a trained conservator would spot may only need the encouragement of a sweep of a rag to begin dropping away. If you see flaking, it is best to not touch the affected area at all. When a problem arises, there can be enormous temptation to use our hands to try and solve it – even seasoned art experts can be guilty of touching paintings they know will flake. Each bit of flaking increases the time – and money - that will have to be spent on the project. The more that can be preserved, the better the chances are that the painting’s value will not drop too much.

Unfortunately, people may think they are being extra helpful by using cleaning solutions or solvents to clean a grubby painting. Never do this! Leave it to the professionals! Conservators train long and hard to learn the extremely complicated processes of cleaning works with solvents and even with training each piece requires the meticulous use of very small quantities of these powerful chemicals. Someone without training could damage a painting and impact its value very quickly indeed.

Finally, if you have noticed cracking or flaking, check to see if the piece is being exposed to a heat source like heating vents… even fireplaces, which aren’t used very much for heating these days but are still favorite places to hang paintings, are a less-obvious threat and so could feasibly cause more damage over time.

If you have found us because a similar situation has already happened, don’t despair. The good news is that the below references are trained professionals and the purpose of their job is, more often than not, erasing life’s mistakes large and small.

For art conservation and painting restoration questions call Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com

For art appraisal questions call Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121 or jrholgate@yahoo.com

See short videos by Scott M. Haskins on art conservation related subjects at YouTube channel “Bestartdochttp://www.youtube.com/user/bestartdoc?feature=mhee

See short do-it-yourself videos on collection care and emergency preparedness for art collectors, family history items, heirlooms, memorabilia at Youtube Channel “preservationcoachhttp://www.youtube.com/user/preservationcoach

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