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charlotte frisbie
historic canvas ceiling covering

I am working on a restoration project in Chinle, AZ of a church builtin 1909-10. The goal is to restore it to its original appearance inside and outside. We have outside done now and have just finished removing "modern" ceiling tiles, neon lights, etc. Underneath all of that, we have found thick canvas ceiling covering which has a printed design on it and clearly was applied in long strips probably from a roll. The underside is attached directly to the roof boards underneath wooden shingle roof. I have never seen any such canvas coverings in my whole career and I need to learn about them as quickly as possible. Pictures we have show it wasn't there originally; by 1940s, cellotex type ceiling tiles had covered up everything. We have no documentation about when it was put up, from where it came, etc. and believe me I have searched archives, etc. Contractor says to forget about it because it's earlier equivalent to current day drop cloth, plastic tarps, or what have you. The place is on the hist. register. both national and state, and before we do anything else, I have got to get educated about this stuff. Design on canvas is similar throughout whole ceiling area except for location of original altar/sanctuary where a different canvas was used, one with stars on it. Can anybody help me get started on learning about what we have here? THANKS.

Re: historic canvas ceiling covering

You could start looking here.
Fort Hill Plantion @ Clemson University.
The home of John C. Calhoun.
I did the plaster and stucco in 2004.
Some interior walls had canvas that was tacked & glued to very wide wood planks.
Also check with the National Park Service.
You should also include research @ Historic Scotland Technical Conservation Group.

Re: historic canvas ceiling covering

I have always heard it called painters cloth. It is a canvas cloth usually glued up before painting. It was sometimes used to cover cracked plaster and provide a crack free painting surface.


Re: historic canvas ceiling covering

Prepainted canvas dates back to the Egyptians as far back as 1284.Canvas was painted than installed only after it was completed.
Need to check on very old churches and Jewish Temples these also had painted canvas installed over plaster.
A very late ( 1930 )painted canvas is installed on the North wall at the Sottile theater Charleston, SC. these 3 panels are about 20' X 30'.

charlotte frisbie
Re: historic canvas ceiling covering

Is there a basic source where I should start when trying to learn about this covering? It was put directly onto roof boards, underneath side, and never covered plaster, etc. I am trying to learn if there were major companies making this, and if so, how I might see what they were marketing in early 1900s. Thanks.

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