Monday, April 25, 2011

Mounting canvas

"Question...what kind of adhesive is used to attach oil primed linen to a Masonite panel and does it need to be stretched? I was going to try contact cement watered down a little and a razor knife to cut around it."

I was asked the above question via e-mail.

I seldom mount canvas to my panels, but it is easy enough to do. I would not, however use contact cement. There are a number of different glues that you can use though. Elmers makes a liquid hide glue that many people like. Others like Miracle Muck, here is a link to get that from Judsons.

The process is simple. Cut your panels on which you intend to mount your canvas, linen or cotton or whatever you like. Paint the board with the adhesive and lay the canvas on that, your canvas should be about an inch larger than the panel all the way around. I like to smooth it out with a brayer, here is a link for those.
Work the air bubbles from the center outwards.You can do that just with your hand, but not quite as well. If you have a friend who owns a frame shop perhaps they will let you put panels in their vacuum box, that lays them down really well as it pulls all the air out from between the canvas and the support.

Stack your canvases up and put a heavy weight on the overnight, a pile of books or a Ford Explorer. The next morning trim the canvas to the same size as the support using a NEW fresh razor knife blade. Razor knives are the most dangerous tools an artist uses. Always retract the blade when not in use and watch the non knife wielding hand.


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.

Bob Carter said...

I routinely make linen panels for small paintings. If these are for short-term longevity, Elmer's would probably be OK. But over time, it will eat into the canvas, because it is not pH neutral. PVA glue is the conservator-recommended adhesive, both for this and as a replacement for rabbit skin sizing. I have a gallon of the stuff, which has lasted me years. It is close to the consistency of Elmer's Glue-All. I usually thin it slightly by adding a very small amount of water. I see that ASW ( sells a gallon of Neutral pH PVA Adhesive by LineCo for $46.06 a gallon.

Painting Tips and Tricks said...

I Like your blog! Happy Easter!...Daniel

willek said...

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?.

Stapeliad said...

I had a teacher who had the unfortunate experience of having the very tippy tip of an Xacto blade break off and fly into his eye. Not fun. He was ok though.

Aline said...

I think that one of the reasons for using the special glue (Mighty Muck is yet another option), in addition to the achivalness, is the fact that the canvas can be removed from the support by applying heat to the glue. So if something untoward happened to the support, the painting is still OK and can be mounted onto a different support.

Tim said...

I just sent Pattex, the company who makes my woodglue an email asking about this, lets see what they say!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I moved you to the front page.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks always scientific!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Painting tips etc.
Thanks, happy Easter to you too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I answered that out front.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

That is an advantage.

Bill said...

Contact cement is awful stuff. I did some collages with it in my 20s and they have all delaminated.