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How To Remove A Silk Painting Decoupaged To A Canvas

A View From The Ferry
(now awaiting reuse!)
Have you created things that you don't like, didn't sell, or otherwise just didn't work for you?  I sure have!!

Some of my art pieces that haven't sold, now grace the walls of my home.  But I have a small home, with little it behooves me to figure out another way to use my artwork - specifically, my silk paintings.

IF I've wrapped my silk paintings around a canvas or board, and attached it with pins or tape (in other words, easily removable), then I can simply unpin or untape it and it's ready to use for something else (A View From The Ferry is one that I've unpinned and am now trying to decide how to reuse it).  
Sunflower Quad

BUT if I've attached my silk painting to a canvas using Acrylic Matte Medium... well that's a whole new experiment in how to reuse/recycle!

My latest idea is to remove decoupaged silk from the canvas - leaving the canvas in tact (but with a really cool faint impression of the original silk painting on the canvas).  However, removing the silk from the canvas AFTER it has been adhered with acrylic matte medium is not an easy task!  I will show you how I do it... and you can decide if it's worth the effort.  :) 

First I begin with a painting that I've decided I don't want to keep.  In this case, it is 1/4 of a sunflower quadriptych.  I place it on a surface face-down (making sure that the surface will not harm the painting!). 

Edges removed from the
I begin to gently scrape at the very edges of the painting.  If they are well-adhered (and mine usually are), then I will have to scrape harder.   I may even have to get a tool of some kind to help me.  *I would not advise using anything with a sharp tip.. it is VERY easy to tear a hole in the silk!  I've found that my fingernails are best.. tough enough to scrape the silk off of the canvas, but soft enough to not damage the silk (although, I usually end up damaging my nails!... which may be why I can never seem to keep my nails long!). I have used an old credit card (or in this case, a "free" one that came in the mail -- I ALWAYS save my old credit cards and gifts cards... I use them all the time in my arts and crafts!). 

Pulling the silk
off of the canvas.
Notice how some
of the gesso from
the canvas sticks
to the silk!
I try to loosen all of the edges of the painting first.  *A word of caution - it is extremely easy to tear the silk while trying to remove the edges from the canvas!! I often have little tears along the edges.  If you are slow and careful, you can keep the tearing to a minimum.  But if you hurry, you can end up with some pretty large tears.  So go slowly!!  

Once you get the sides safely removed, you can actually grab a hold of the silk and pull steadily and the silk will remove from the canvas.  You do have to pull pretty strongly to remove it, but so long as you are pulling from the body of the silk (rather than a torn edge), the silk will peel off of the canvas in one nice, big piece.  

Once the silk painting is removed from the canvas, you can see that an impression is left behind on the canvas.  You can put the canvas aside to use for something else (you could re-gesso it and use it for a new painting, or you could use the canvas as-is and incorporate the faint image into a new art piece). 

As for the silk.. it will not go back to it's original texture (soft and supple).. but it is still a very interesting piece of fabric.  

All of the pieces I have thus-far removed, have all ended up with small bits of gesso on them (from the canvas they were adhered to).  I don't mind that.. I think it shows that the silk had a previous incarnation.  But I am playing with ways to remove it - just in case I want that.  FYI - DON'T just try scraping the gesso off of the silk!  It will most likely result in a hole or a tear in your silk (yup, tore a hole in a lovely piece.. had to then get creative with the usage of the piece. argh).

As for how I'm using (or rather re-using) my now twice-recycled silk... well keep watching!  You'll probably see them show up in other art pieces I'm working on!


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