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Old 10-10-07, 06:00 PM
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Default Smoke Damage ET Paintings


Does anyone have a remedy for smoke exposed ET paintings? Some paintings have been varnished others not. Most of the paintings are under 4 years old. Some are painted on Birch Gessoed panels and a few on untreated masonite.

I have access to ozone cleaning (de-odorizing) but I am concerned about the actual surface of the paintings.

Is there a known recommended approach to cleaning soot off of the egg tempera surface, or is there someone you might recommend that I speak with about this process.

Thanks a million!

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Old 10-10-07, 07:26 PM
sabine sabine is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Bruxelles
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sorry, I don't know!

You can really see they've been damaged by smoke? Can I ask what kind of smoke? Simply cigarettes, or something else?
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Old 10-10-07, 08:49 PM
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It was a fire within a house.
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Old 12-10-07, 06:31 AM
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Bert Congdon Bert Congdon is offline
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Location: Huntsville, TX
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Red face Remove smoke

If this was for someone else, I would not touch it. If it were my own, I would try wetting a Q-tip with plain water, squeeze out the excess water with a paper towel, and gently work it in a circular motion. If anything lifted I would stop, and I would try the same with alcohol. If that lifted I would stop there and say that is how an ET looks with smoke damage. Smoke is tar, and on the coated ones i might try a little ammonia in the water. I would not try turpentine. I already know that it will lift ET, but one thing I just thought of is kerosene. It is not a solvent like turps.
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Old 12-10-07, 06:04 PM
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Dennis H Dennis H is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Auburn, AL, USA
Posts: 177

If there is a conservator in your area, you should probably show it to him or her for an assessment. If you do try a little test cleaning yourself, as Bert mentioned, use distilled water. It actually seems to clean better than tap water. You can buy "bulk" cotton at a pharmacy. Pinch off a small piece and roll it onto the tip of a small wooden skewer. That way you can fashion a longer cotton swab or create a different shape than that which you buy prepared (eg., Q-Tips). When you clean the painting, don't rub or scrub the cotton swab across the surface. Roll it gently by rotating the stick back and forth in your fingers. Focus on a small area. Have a dry ball of cotton or a soft paper towel handy to pick up excess water on the painting. Of course, place the painting in a horizontal position so you don't risk drips. Test first on an "inconspicuous" area and be prepared for the fact that the soot may come off slowly or not at all with just water. Be very hesitant about moving up to soaps or solvents, but if you do, start with the mildest first.
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Old 15-10-07, 12:32 AM
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Thanks Dennis and Bert for your comments and suggestions.

I have given the paintings to a Conservation Company that is familiar with oil restoration, and is doing some research on egg tempera. As you may know, there aren't a lot of data points available.

The good news is, horizontal surfaces in the house were much more effected than vertical. Nearly all were hanging at the time so that is lucky.

I have given them one painting I needed to repair anyway so they could run some tests. In addition, I normally paint the sides and mount them in a floater frame, so if they remove from the frame, they can safely test on the sides.

They understand the only binder I used is egg yolk and will not use harsh solvents on the surface.

I'll try to update this thread if I find out something other than what was already mentioned, and I invite anyone to comment on their experiences, or send contact information of a reliable resource so I can relay to our Conservator.


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