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We were painting a lantern, when someone spilled dark paint over a yellow part.

The process for creating is the following:

You stretch the cloth over a wooden frame. (ca 2.5m x 2.5m/ 8foot by 8 foot) The cloth is then coated in multiple layers of gelatin. The gelatin tightens the cloth, and hardens it a bit, so you can paint on it.

The problem is, that it is lit from the back, so you can't overpaint it.

We were drawing with watercolor.

We can put a bit of water on it, however, too much will remove the gelatin, which makes us unable to paint there. Rubbing too much will remove the gelatin as well.

this photo is from the inside of the lantern
This photo is from the inside of the lantern. Click image to enlarge

Is there a way to remove some color, by not destroying the rest?

How would the restoration process look like, when the painting was old? Maybe I could adapt this?

  • Could you show a picture of the project? It'll help to actually see the problem, and maybe come up with other suggestions, like, adjust the yellow shape by adding more black paint instead of trying to remove paint. But only if that makes sense for the painting, of course! – Ji Ugug Feb 16 '17 at 18:29
  • I added a picture, I hope it helps. The image is painted on the outside, and the colors are put on the inside as well (to give them more strenght when lit). That's why it looks like a kids drawing – Frezzley Feb 16 '17 at 18:33
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    Is there a reason you can't add gelatin sizing back into the cloth after removing the color? Generally the typical way to lift watercolor from a surface is to use water. – John Cavan Feb 17 '17 at 2:52
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I suggest to remove the stain with water, e.g. rinsing the part of the cloth or using a steam cleaner which has the advantage to be able to clean smaller parts of the cloth. Afterwards the gelatin will have (at least partially) resolved at the respective part of the painting (along with most of the watercolor).

To retain the structure that is needed to paint on the cloth, gelatin has to be added back on to the parts where the stain has been removed. For this the entire cloth has to be damp (not wet) before the gelatin is added to ensure flexibility of the material and to allow it to stretch evenly along the frame once dry.

  1. remove stain by rinsing with water or with a steam cleaner
  2. cautiously dampen the cloth from the side of the cloth you have not drawn on (this will minimize bleed of the colors). This is the most delicate part. The cloth only needs to be so damp that it will have some slack on the frame.
  3. 'paint' the part of the cloth where the stain was removed with gelatin
  4. let dry

At this point you can repaint the cloth.

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You could try carefully scraping the dark color off with the edge of a razor blade or similar tool. This presents less of a risk to the rest of the work. If there is enough ground (the gelatin layers) you should be able to scrape it away without getting to the cloth underneath.

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