Spraying linen with isopropyl alcohol

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Ryan Thomas wrote
on 18 Jul 2012 11:24 PM

Hello Everyone!

My question is simple, and I hope someone can give me some feed back.  To be honest, it has been driving me crazy, and I think I'm just looking for some reassurance.  I have two Belgian linen canvases that I sprayed with a (roughly) 50/50 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol on two separate occasions each.  My original thinking was that the alcohol would help evaporate the moisture quicker than it otherwise would if I just sprayed the back of the linen canvas with water alone.  

I am aware that alcohol can irreversibly damage acrylic, oil, etc. paint, and varnish, but will the alcohol adversely affect the linen?  Will the alcohol affect the natural oils that are in the linen?   Based on all the research I've done, I can't seem to get an answer when it comes to this query.  Maybe I'm over thinking this, but I am just trying to get an idea if the alcohol has adversely affected the linen (make brittle, dry out, or whatever 'adversely' means to you).  I think part of my unease is due to the fact this is Belgian linen and I've invested a lot of money into these projects.  I don't want to think I flagrantly damaged the support.  Thanks for your advice / thoughts!

 

Ryan 

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Jay Babina wrote
on 20 Jul 2012 7:17 AM

Although I don't have an official answer, I would think that you have helped the fabric by killing any mold that could have been on there. The main reason that artists use grounds (gesso etc) is to prevent the growth of mold and rot because of linseed oil in the paint can support mold that likes natural things like cotton and flax. Other than water, I could not think of a more inert and safe liquid to put on a linen with no adverse affects. You didn't really say if this was a blank linen or the back of a painting or one that was primed.

 

Anyhow, you're over worrying about nothing. Alcohol will soften acrylic paint but I never read anything about alcohol bothering linen or canvas fabric. Acrylic paint is a plastic and linen is not. It's not like you're soaking if for days and days. Your linen is fine. Enjoy your project and don't worry.

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Ryan Thomas wrote
on 20 Jul 2012 1:42 PM

Hello Jay,


The linen was pre-primed with titanium white acrylic gesso, and yes, I did get some of the spray on the gesso.  The canvas has not been painted on yet.  My 'aim' was for the back of the canvas where the linen was 'raw' or not primed.  I took some water not mixed with alcohol and I wiped up the areas where the gesso was sprayed with the 50/50 alcohol and water mix.  I did notice where very little pieces of the gesso came off in little 'rolls', but I'm not sure if that was because of the alcohol or because I was using a paper towel to wipe up the water off the gesso and friction aided in the gesso's removal.  With that said, looking at the canvas now, I can't really tell any of the gesso came off because it was so little.  I was planning to add another layer of gesso before I started painting, so I wasn't distraught over this. I don't see where the gesso has cracked or has any out of the ordinary look to it than it had before I sprayed the 50/50 mix.  I hope this clarifies everything. 

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