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Repairing Small Tears in Canvas by Bill Mapes

Full disclosure: Life is full of unexpected turns at the very worst moments. This is especially true in my art. I recently went to my Hood open art session with my canvas safe and secure in my canvas holder. I have the habit of inserting my easel palette within the band that secures my canvas. I have done this every week to minimize the things I need to carry from the car to the studio. Not a problem. Maybe! This time, probably due to my carelessness, the corner of the palette caused a dog-eared tear in my canvas (1/2). I must confess this the third or fourth time I had to deal with such a tear.

I came up with a simple way to repair these small tears. First, I cut a patch out of a piece of thin primed canvas. The patch should be large enough to cover the tear with plenty of material on all sides (3). Next, I press the cut area together, being careful to knit the fringe threads together. I apply gesso to the tear on the rear of the canvas with a palette knife and apply the patch (4). Note: I support the tear on the front of the canvas with something flat to avoid a bulge. I then apply more gesso over the patch and smooth it over all the edges (5). I then concentrate on the tear on the front. Carefully smooth the gesso that seeps through the tear. Again, flatten any threads that stick above the level of the canvas (6). Finally, I apply a small amount of gesso and smooth over the tear only. Too much gesso will build up the tear above the canvas surface. Allow the gesso to dry completely. If necessary, a gentle sanding of the tear will eliminate any rough protrusions. Usually painting over the damaged area solves the problem and resurrects the painting.

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