UPDATE on Awning Disaster.... A Happy Resolution?
Called Sunbrella, after assembling and trying a chemical lab's worth of possible paint removers on our test fabric (identical to the awning fabric, which is much heavier and stiffer than regular Sunbrella upholstery fabric).
Some things removed the paint, notably paint thinner. However, it only removed paint from the surface of the cloth. The paint that had sunk into the cloth fibers was still there and VERY visible from the underneath where we sit. Sunbrella guy (Brandon at Glen Raven Mills in North Carolina) was really nice but after hearing what we'd tried he wasn't that hopeful. He also said that some of the chemicals that take off the paint would also remove the water repellency and mildew resistance. Although there is something you can treat the spots with to try to restore those qualities, it's never again like the fabric in its original state.
So, Head Painter came over and offered to trade painting for the cost of a new awning. As Cliff and Joann noted above, the expensive remote controlled mechanism of the awning does not need replacement, just the fabric part.
I called the awning company (best company ever for customer service) and they were working up a quote for the new awning (ours is 8 ft. x 14 ft. when the painter's son-in-law came up with a great idea--- could we take the fabric off and spin it around so that the painted end was rolled up on the axel thing under the eaves? Awning company said they would be happy to try that and are sending out two guys Friday to take it apart and spin the fabric the other way. He said the only problem might be that the stripes on the valance might not line up correctly and we'd have to have another valance made. Luckily, they have enough extra of the same cloth for a valance if that is even necessary. The awning company said they would just charge for their employee's time and gas to come here (over an hour each way) , not to exceed $150! If we have to make a new valance, that would run about $75 for labor.
Painter very happy with this turn of events, will pay for these repairs/ changes and wants me to know that the guy who did this is no longer working for them. Their reputation is intact and I am (or am about to be) completely satisfied with this resolution!
I can't say how relieved I am about all this--- the poster upthread was right when she was talking about some of our local work people. Our economy is VERY depressed and we are committed to working with and through local companies whenever possible. This is one of the downsides, as some of them do not have insurance. But it isn't like a big city, where you would never run into people who work for you. We all shop at the same grocery store, see movies at the one theater, go to the same pizzeria... It's just a different kind of life that is much more economically interdependent on each other.
Thanks everyone for all your good suggestions, I was glad to be able to say that we really did try everything before acknowledging that something had to be done. Ironically, the painters think the head painter's son-in-law (the one who came up with this idea) isn't very smart. I guess he's looking a LOT smarter now!