Cracked Acrylic


WOW Framer
Tourist acrylic from Africa, with shiny varnish, thin paint, and some cracks. On thin canvas, with insufficient border. Customer wants to frame and hang over kitchen sink, and also wants it to last. I told her that, even if we added more canvas, stretching would worsen the cracks. I've mounted a few unvarnished tempra paintings to Canvas MountCor, which worked well, but varnished acrylic is a different critter. Would you wet mount it with fabric glue or acrylic gel? Would you use another method?

Since acrylic is hygroscopic, seems like it would need glass and a spacer, instead. And MarvelSeal? But does encasing a mounted, varnished acrylic cause a problem, even when you have an air space? Thanks for any thoughts.
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PFG, Picture Framing God
Seems like the customer is inviting a particle collection by hanging a varnished painting in a kitchen.


Forum Support Team Angry_Badger
Staff member
I didn't know acrylics reacted to water once they had dried. The canvas certainly would, but I think the paint is fairly stable once dry.

I was aware that the surface develops micro-pores as the water evaporates out of the paints as it dries, and left unvarnished these pores will get filled with environmental debris that is really difficult to remove. Since your painting is thin and varnished, this shouldn't be an issue.

My concern would be if the varnish might be heat reactivated, like acrylic gel media. You could test the surface for heat sensitivity in the perimeter.
The potential challenge to a wet mount of any kind is the introduction of water and how the various elements react.

I would probably treat this more like a work on paper and hinge it to a backing if preservation is the goal. None of the other options mentioned are easily reversed.

"over a kitchen sink" is a bit worrisome. Especially if it were mine. Stainless wall above the backsplash needs wiping down once a day.
A wooden frame will suffer from the location. Sealed frame package would help, but is no panacea. Scanning the piece, printing it, and framing that would probably be the smarter move for the sake of the original in a compromised environment.

This issue of cracking was seen when the demand for Haitian artwork was on the upswing and artists were forgoing any primer or sizing agent on the light weight cotton canvas. I remember applying rabbit skin glue to the back of these to help keep the pigments from flaking off.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I've had a few of these 'bedsheet' paintings to deal with. I find that making a strainer frame and facing it
with 5mm foamcore, then stapling around the edges in the manner of a canvas works OK.
The foamcore gives some substance to the flimsy fabric. You don't need to pull it drum-tight, just enough
tension to hold it flat. Very little margin is needed on the edge. The staples need to be closer together than
the spacing you would use on a canvas or you can get 'scalloping'.
These touristy items are done on the cheap and there is no way of telling the way they were done or the type
and quality of the paint. The term 'Acrylic' covers a lot of ground. 🤨

**Definitely glazing in a kitchen. :)


WOW Framer
I too would treat it like art on paper. Does it need any stretching at all?
Not sure how big it is, but maybe just pinning it would be sufficient. Or a sink mount. Mat it. Glaze, frame and ready.
It's about 15 x 27". When she left today, I think she was leaning toward mat, glass and spacers.


Forum Support Team
Staff member
The planned location for this painting is fraught with potential problems.

Scanning and printing will not only create a more lasting decoration but also be less costly. No need for a strainer or spacer and it will not need uv glazing. Usually, a matte paper works fine for these, but you could print on canvas, then drymount to Mighty cor or even Gatorboard. I would probably still glaze it since it is going in a kitchen, but you might get away with a good coating on the canvas.

I have had some success using 8-ply rag over a strainer and lightly tacking the edges to the strainer.

Incidentally, Hugh Phibbs pointed out not long ago that the silver mylar used in balloons is a good substitute for Marvelseal. It is less expensive and readily available from Home Depot.