Strip-lining an oil painting: how, why and when is it needed?
What is ‘strip-lining’?
If you follow art restoration and conservation, it’s likely that you will have had the term ‘lining’.
Lining is the addition of a second canvas to a weakened original, to provide reinforcement and stability to an artwork. (You can read more about the process of lining in our helpful article detailing why and how it’s done)
Full lining was more common in the past, but contemporary conservators now take a different approach. Lining is a big intervention for a painting, and conservators only carry out this process when it is wholly necessary.
Strip-lining is when only the edges of the canvas are lined. Often the margins of a canvas are prone to damage, and more so than the surface area of the canvas.
Rusted tacks and nails can have an effect on the margins, and the edges can become abraded due to a number of factors such as age and general wear and tear. Consequently, there is therefore not always enough material on the tacking edges to ensure the painting is well supported.
The below photograph is an example of when strip-lining becomes necessary. The edges are wearing away and the painting cannot properly be re-stretched. A strip of canvas needs to be applied to reinforce the original edges.
Read on for a look at the strip-lining process and how our conservators fully stabilise paintings using this method.
The strip-lining process
Firstly, the painting is carefully removed from the stretcher bars and the back of the painting is cleaned. Before additional work can take place it needs to be flattened, which is done with conservation weights.
During the time when the canvas is flattened, the new canvas that will be used is prepared. Measurements are taken of the margins and the new canvas is cut, prepared and ironed out.
The adhesive is also measured and cut into strips, and subsequently ironed onto the new canvas.
Once the painting is flattened, the new canvas can be correctly aligned against it. Once this new canvas has been applied to the painting, it has been successfully ‘strip-lined’.
We have put together a short video of this part of the process, which you can take a look at in Part 1 below.
The next stage of the process is to remove the excess canvas from the pieces that have been applied to the painting.
Sometimes new stretcher bars will also need to be purchased and assembled if they are aged or unsupportive, like in Part 2 of our video below.
The painting is then stretched back over the stretcher bars, now it’s possible to do so again after strip-lining.
Keys are added to the stretcher bars to provide the suitable level of tension for the painting and ensure it is not ‘sagging’.
After this stage, the strip-lining is complete and the painting will be structurally stable once again.
You can watch Part 2 of our video which shows these steps below.
In the below example, you can see where the new canvas has been applied and how worn the canvas’ margins had become.
Strip-lining provides the necessary and essential structural support that a painting needs, while keeping the intervention to a minimum. It is an important treatment that we carry out every month in the studio to ensure that a painting is kept in the best condition possible.
As with every restoration, recommended treatments are tailored and subscribed to each painting after a considered process. We’ll only ever do what is necessary to ensure the longevity and enjoyment of your artwork.