Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A little more about adhering canvas to panels

I returned home late last night after five days of driving. Long trip! A month on the road. I am reposting a comment from the blog as it is informative. Thanks Tim, for the method you use.

Blogger Tim said...

I use ordinary wood glue for mine, on birch plywood that i seal with acrylic matte medium ( I could also use the matte medium but it is more expensive than the wood glue, which is PH neutral anyway)

I have a cheap large mirror from IKEA that I put then panel on, to ensure the surface is completely flat and then I have a bunch of glass from the different frames Ive bought bulk, they are very good to put on top of the panels for an even pressure. I put two heavy books on top of that (Bauhaus design History and a Sargent book, maybe some dumbbells too)

I spread the glue with a old credit card, making sure it isn't too thick. If the glue is too thick, the moisture could dissolve the ground from the back, and you can get "dents" if you apply pressure too hard in certain places. Say that your glue layer is 1 mm, you could if you are unlucky end up with fingerprints that are like craters 1mm deep.

Its a good idea to start the contact of the panel and linen in the middle of the panel and work your way outwards from that. Hold the linen in both hands make a "U" shape with it and plopp the the center down in the center of the panel, slowly pushing the linen down. Thats difficult to explain, but it usually leaves me with no air-bubbles whatsoever.

I was also asked this:
"Is the jury still out of polyester canvas? I have been trying it out and love that it is so stable and unaffected by water based primers and gessoes. It keeps its tension regardless of atmospheric conditions and eliminateds the need for keying. But I wonder about the paint canvas bond over time and what happens if the tension on the canvas is released. ? Will the canvas contract more than the paint film?"

I have decided that I didn't like the surface of the polyester canvas. It does stay stretched and is probably tough as nails, but it is a little like painting on a steel window screen. It has a very hard feel to it's weave in my opinion.

I wouldn't worry about the adhesion any more than any other acrylic primed canvas. Of course I always worry about adhesion on an acrylic canvas. The coming and going of the canvas should be less than almost any other canvas as the polyester is so inert, so that shouldn't be a problem.

For now I am using the Centurion oil primed linen from Jerry's. I think it is OK, but I haven't used it long enough to say I recommend it. Claussens type 12 is awfully nice but very expensive. All linen comes and goes a lot, that has been an ongoing problem for me, so I am not sure what I think is the best substrate. Up to 18by 24 I am happiest on an oil primed piece of Masonite. I wrote about how to make those in a blog post entitled "making panels.

I recommended Miracle Muck for adhering canvas to panels, here is an info sheet from its manufacturer on that stuff. They say that it is a EVA or ethylene vinyl acetate so it is PH neutral when dry and archival enough for our purposes. I still think that hide glue or Elmers is OK too, all the old guys used it and their work is fine.

Sourcetek, a fine supplier of artists panels and materials has an explanatory sheet on using Miracle Muck here. Here is a link to their site where you can buy excellent panels all covered in Claussens linen and ready to go.

I believe their site recommends using a rolling pin to smooth the canvas onto a panel and instead of beginning in the middle and working outward, they suggest rolling from the bottom. Everyone seems to have their own method here.


willek said...

Welcome back Stape. You will just catch the last of the New England spring budding color and it has been spectacular around here. All we need is some sunshine.

Jim Gibbons said...

Tim's process seems a little too much or at least it sounds like it on paper.
What about a simple spray adhesive???

Ben Valentine said...

These recent subjects are the kind that get me all tickled pick and keep me up at night.

I frequent amien.org for conservation questions and I can tweek out on that site for days. (I'm not affiliated with the site. Hope this isn't seen as spam :) )
They're stance is that the only substrate suitable for longevity is a rigid support( fabric adhered to a hardwood board, maple, oak birch. Apparently any will do, not just birch as I would have thought. Also plain primed wood panels will do.) As for the fabrics they hold that all three; Flax, Cotton or Poly are equally archival so long as they are specifically made for artists. Only personal preference for the texture and feel of the fabric substrate should concern the artist. I think the conservators there would agree with Tim's method completely(especial sizing the panel with medium to protect against SID or support induced discoloration.) Although they would not agree with the wood glue part. An acrylic GEL medium in GLOSS would probably be most recommended much like what Tim said but didn't do because of cost. Also Rabbit Skin Glue for any use is the devil according to them.

Anyway haven't have much use for this info until now so I thought I'd throw it up there. I still use stretched fabric(C13 linen) almost exclusively. But this info may be interesting to another weirdo like me :)

Stapleton Kearns said...

I need some sunshine, I want to empty my studio and clean it. What a mess!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know about the archival qualities of a spray adhesive. I will try to find out and get back to you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanx for the info.

Mary Byrom said...

Welcome home Stapleton! I've had great results glueing canvas and linen to a rigid support with miracle muck. I tape my canvas to a board. Paint the picture. Cut it to the size I want, then glue it to the board. Its great for painting a lot of paintings when you're traveling, especially on planes - reduces bulk & weight, returning home with thin sheets of fabric in your luggage. Its also great as you can crop the painting if desired and if you want the field study for a studio piece you don't even have to mount it on board.

Tim said...

I heard that the glue (and formaldehyd I think I remember) and other natural acids that are in pine will gas out and potentially destroy the linen, BUT sometjimes I think I waste too much time fussing over these things, I would like to see some examlpes of paintings destroyed from this. I do what I can though, and buying birch boards, sealing it with the Matte Medium and using a pH neutral woodglue keeps me sleeping soundly at night! I shall look in to getting a gallon of Gac100 though, now that Im almost out of the woodglue. Id never used the raw wood though, I think it needs a primer/sealer. I DONT want phonecalls from customers in 10 years time saying they can see wood through the painting, hehe!

I dont know if its clear from my terrible grammar, but I stack the panels with a glass plate between each other, so it takes very little space when I actually decide to do another batch. It also adds to the weight.

We noticed that when too much glue the ground on the linen (claessens oilprimed) would come off under a fingernail. When the glue is completely dry its will become "hard"again, but Im not buying that particular linen anymore. I dont know If we got a bad batch, but I feel that its been compromised, and Ill only use them for studies. We did some experiments and the ground will come off with just water applied from the back. In the meantime, using less glue (moisture)leaves it ok.

David said...


First time comment, long time reader.

Ive had much success using acrylic gesso as the glue(quality gesso)apply it generously with a pin roller to the panel, apply a piece of canvas an inch or so larger than the panel then using a 6" drywall knife i smooth out the canvas from the center out until it perfectly smooth. I do twenty or thirty at a time(however many i cut out of a 4' x 8' sheet)As i glue them i stack them and press them for a day or so under a fair amount of weight, finally trim the edges flush after drying. They work great, i use them for plein air all the time!

If the gesso is good enough to prime a canvas, it will hold the canvas to the board just as long as it will hold the paint to the canvas. It is essentially glue.