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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Care and Cleaning of your Walking Gallery Jacket

 If you have joined The Walking Gallery you are probably familiar with this request:

"Send a business jacket. Please do not send jackets made of seersucker, corduroy, knit, denim, leather or stretch fabric, as they are hard to paint on. Absolutely do not send stretch fabric.  I cannot paint on stretch fabric, as the painting will shred.  You can check if a jacket is stretch by trying to pull at the fiber on the horizontal. Also this is a business jacket on purpose, we are painting on the “uniform” of the conference attendee.  Fabrics that work well are poly-blends, linen, cotton and wool. Also you might want to by a jacket a size larger than you usually do as the painting will stiffen the back and make it harder to close the buttons."

So you sent me, or one of the other artists, a jacket and wore it to conference after conference and now it needs to be cleaned. 

The only problem:  There is a painting on your jacket!  Now the painting itself isn't really the problem.  If you have ever stained your clothes with acrylic you know how hard it is to get the paint out.  The problem is the fabric.  Some fabric will bend and warp around the painting if you try to clean them.

Wash It

If your jacket is polyester or a mostly poly blend you can probably wash it on the delicate cycle with cold water and lay flat to dry.  Many of the women’s blazers are poly blends; very few of the men’s jacket are made of this material.

If it is a cotton/poly you can hand wash, pat dry and dry flat.  Again this applies mostly women’s blazers.

My jacket is polyester and washed it at least 12 times with minimal fade of the paint.

After washing it 30 times the fabric began to break down.  The painting is still there, but The fabric really is fraying in spots. 

Spot cleaning.

Men’s jackets are often made with natural fibers and cannot be hand washed.  Some gallery members have spot-cleaned their jackets with Dryel.

Febreze applied to areas of odor can help keep your jacket nice.


You can iron your natural fiber gallery jacket.  Just place a towel on top of painting when you iron in that area. Do not let the iron touch the painting directly; it will melt it. If the jacket itself is not wrinkled and the painting is sometimes you can just warm the painting with a blow dryer to release the wrinkles.

Dry Cleaning

This can be challenging.  You might want to go to a pro shop that handles vintage clothing.  Some of the solvents used in dry cleaning are pretty corrosive. A dry cleaner who works with vintage garments should be able to clean with steam and few harsh chemicals.

But you could be like gallery member Ted Eytan who threw caution to the wind.  He just dropped it off at his cleaners without telling them about the painting.  It has been cleaned several times without harm much harm.  I had to retouch the water ripples. 

Good Luck on cleaning!  And please share your cleaning tips in the comments section with the rest of the gallery.


  1. Great blog! I had a little bit confusion to maintain a painting work on my jacket. After seeing to your blog my doubts have got cleared.Thank for your blog.

  2. @kgapo
    Don't worry, cotton and polyester are sturdy, hand wash it with care with mild detergent or just wash collar and handcuffs. I have hand washed mine more than 5 times in one year and the painting is as new...

  3. My jacket is a poly blend, and I just float/soak it in a big bucket (or large garbage bag) of cold water with just a few drops of detergent mixed into the water. Then repeat in big bucket/bag of just cold water. Lay it flat to dry so that the shoulder pads don't get lumpy if hanging then wet.