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Old 10-31-2007, 04:39 PM
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Tressa Tressa is offline
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Question Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Hello to all, and I hope someone can answer this question for me, and thank you in advance for any advice.

A friend of my Mom's recently rescued an oil painting she did over 30 years ago when her BIL passed, and it is very dinged with cigarette smoke. She said not sure if the painting was varnished(can't remember) after drying over the paint. Not being able to afford to take to a professional, she asked if anyone had any sugestions for removing the nicotine staining without damaging the painting. Any ideas greatly appreciated.
Tressa
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:48 PM
CareyG CareyG is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Well hopefully it *is* varnished. If it was, since it is over 30 years old, it's probably safe to assume that it was varnished with something like dammar, which you can only remove with something as strong as turpentine (oms will not do).

She might try to clean a small patch first with oms (this is less likely to damage the paint film if it was not varnished) using cotton balls or q-tips, making sure to stop if she sees any of the color coming off. Or she might try first with a very diluted soap and water mix (hey, you never know, often the simple solutions work best!), working on up to stronger solvents. If she works very carefully, she should be able to try various methods without damaging the surface of the painting. Restorers work in *very* small parts of the painting at a time to ensure that no damage is being done and it is a very time-consuming process.

If she does have any luck with this, let us know.

~!Carey
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Old 10-31-2007, 05:07 PM
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mawdwyn mawdwyn is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

I'm glad you asked about this. I've got the same problem (painted it around 40 yrs ago - don't remember if I varnished it). It's got a yucky brownish-yellow coating from all the smoke. I got some Winsor-Newton picture cleaner and tried it on a small area close to the edge. It worked fine, but I've been afraid to "put it to the test" on areas where there's some texture in the paint and it might need a bit more wiping - might lift color with the crud if it's not varnished. Hopefully there's someone here with some experience in this, I would think it's a fairly common problem.
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:30 PM
lotusguy lotusguy is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

As an ex-smoker/ex-submariner, I can vouch for the efficacy of soap and water for removing nicotine from surfaces. Just be gentle, and willing to do it over unti it is clean. Keep in mind it is a painting, not a bulkhead.

TTFN,
Dennis

And rinse it with clean water to get the soap film off.
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Old 10-31-2007, 09:39 PM
CareyG CareyG is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Another note...it really is surprising how little people believe soap can do. I don't know why. I guess that all that marketing for "superior" products must be doing some good. For instance, regular soap will get out oil paint from clothes (so long as it's not *too* dry or set with heat--ie, in the washer or dryer) and it will also work just fine to get out many other "stains".

In clothes it needs a little elbow grease. I suggest a soft touch with an oil painting, though. And above all, patience.

~!Carey
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Old 10-31-2007, 10:20 PM
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Casandra Casandra is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Hi,
I would like to suggest, Winson & Newton Artists' Picture cleaner!.
The picture I am posting is an old painting, that I tried this on.
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:37 AM
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Tressa Tressa is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Thank you all for your responses, and I will pass on this info today. My first thought was mild soap and water, but I didn't want to steer her in the wrong direction. I will also tell her of the WN cleaner.
Will let you know how it turns out!
Tres
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:45 AM
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Andi Rebirth Andi Rebirth is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Tressa, I had inherited several oil paintings by my grandmother that were not barnished. I took dawn dish soap and cotton cloth, wah lah clean.
I had heard someone using white bread but that sounded out there, so I went with the soap. I tried a corner with the windsor cleaner and it took off the paint. So good luck! Andi
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Old 11-01-2007, 02:17 PM
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TTHOMPIE TTHOMPIE is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

I was a very heavy smoker and did wash my paintings every once in awhile. I used a regular sponge and a mild dishwashing liquid.....like the geen palmolive.

The ones I did clean like that were all on panel......so.....I could use a fair amount of pressure. None were vanished. They all cleaned up nicely.

If it's a stretched canvas I would just be careful not to push too hard on the canvas as you clean it. If possible, put something under it so you don't accidently put too much pressure on the cloth while cleaning.

I don't think a store bought picture cleaner is going to do a better job than mild soap and water. Along with the smoke there is probably a layer or two of bacon grease.

I used to have some of my paintings on a shelf in the kitchen....the shelves that are meant to hold dishes. Great place to put paintings when you want them to dry away from little fingers.
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:44 PM
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Eggy Eggy is offline
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Re: Cleaning Cigarette Smoke from a Painting

Winsor and Newton Picture Cleaner is reliable and it works.
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