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Ampersand Questions Answered

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do you cut Ampersand panels to a different size?
Answer:  If you don’t have access to industrial equipment such as a panel saw, you can use a sliding table saw with an ATB (Alternating Top Bevel) blade that has 40-80 carbide teeth to cut an un-cradled panel. We recommend cutting the panel with the coated surface face up, making certain that the points of the blade are cutting down through the painting surface and not up through the back of the board. The latter may cause unsafe movement of the panel and can also result in a ragged edge. After cutting the panel, use a 150-200 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edges. Other equipment like a band saw or a skill saw can be also used. Cutting a clean straight line may be more difficult using these cutting tools, but can still work if set-up properly. Note: if you are uncomfortable using power tools, we recommend seeking assistance from a carpenter or your local cabinet or frame shop.

Q. Can I paint with oils on Claybord™?
Answer:  The short answer is yes. All of our panels are multi-media and may be used with any type of paint. We do not usually recommend the Claybord™ with oils because the surface is very absorbent and does not behave like a typical acrylic gesso. What happens is the oil paint “soaks” into the clay surface and settles to a matte finish. Many oil painters love this because they can work so quickly, others would prefer a longer working time. Painting on Claybord is very much like painting on a traditional chalk and glue oil painting ground. If you like the smooth finish of the Claybord, but want to slow down the absorbency, try adding more painting medium in your initial layers of paint. After about 3-4 layers of paint, the absorbency lessens, if not stops altogether. Another technique is to apply one thin coat of oil painting ground. This lessens the absorbency while maintaining the smooth surface. Oil paintings on Claybord are very beautiful however, we usually recommend Gessobord™ first for the oil painter who prefers a standard acrylic gesso ground.

Q. Which Ampersand surface should I use for encaustics?
Answer:  While you can use Claybord, Encaucticbord is specially formulated and is the ideal surface for encaustic paints.  If you do use Claybord,it is important that to use proper fusing methods. This includes heating the surface of the Claybord before painting in your priming wax layer and also fusing carefully between encaustic layers. Some artists choose to use Hardbord. Hardbord has a smooth, tempered surface so in its natural form, it is not absorbent enough for encaustic. Therefore, it is necessary to “rough up” the Hardbord surface with sandpaper before beginning. Again, remember to heat the panel before the initial layer and take care in fusing layers. We do not recommend using Aquabord™ with encaustics because the wax can trap air between the ground and the wax, which can cause separation with the encaustics.  Aquabord is designed mainly for watercolors.

Q. Is it possible to get a custom size panel?
Answer:  Yes. Ampersand can make custom size panels up to 44” x 90” with cradles and cross braces up to 3 inches deep in any of Ampersand’s Museum Series surfaces. Currently, the Value Series Artist Panel is not available in custom sizes. Contact us for a custom quote by phone or email to get started. Please plan around a 4 week turnaround time.

Q. How do I seal my watercolors so I can frame without glass?
 Seal finished watercolors or gouache with several light coats of spray varnish (or fixative), being careful to spray outdoors during warmer months or in a well ventilated and heated area during colder times of the year.  About 4 coats brushed-on, provides a very durable archival finish and is also removable for conservation purposes.

Q. Why are there white specks on my watercolor washes on Aquabord™?
Answer:  During the manufacturing process of Aquabord, air becomes trapped in the clay coating. After the coating is dry and when water or watercolor is applied to the coating, this air is released and comes to the surface and can cause “bubbling” or “pin-dots” on the surface. We recommend “flushing out” Aquabord before beginning your painting by simply applying an even wash of water with a large brush over the entire surface. Let the air escape. Once the board is back to a damp stage, you can begin working on it. This method tends to eliminate these “bubbles” and will give you a more even wash.

Q. How should I store my artworks on panel?
Answer:  Panels are made of wood and wood tends to absorb the moisture or lack of moisture in its surrounding. Therefore, be careful when storing your artworks on panel. It is best, as with all artworks, to store them in a temperature controlled environment. Make sure not to store them in a location like a garage where temperature changes fluctuate drastically. Also, it is best to store artworks on panel laying flat, in a frame or hung on the wall. If a panel is left leaning against a wall, gravity will pull against the center and can cause a twist or warp in the wood. By storing the panels flat or on the wall, any pressure from gravity is more evenly distributed across the panel helping to prevent warping. If this happens to one of your flat panels, lay it flat for several days weighted down and in a controlled temperature and it should snap back to its original shape.

Q. Why are panels recommended over flexible supports?
Answer:  Conservators mainly recommend panels because of their rigidity. Rigid supports, when compared to flexible supports like canvas or paper, greatly reduce the movement of the paint film. Flexible supports like stretched canvas are more susceptible than panels to changes in temperature and humidity that can contribute to the movement and deterioration of the support over time and therefore affect the paint film in the process. These changes in the flexible support will cause movement and result in cracking and adhesion issues for artwork. This is especially true with strong, yet brittle mediums like oil paint, egg tempera or encaustic. Paintings on rigid wood panels will not experience this movement and therefore serve as a better support for paint film. For example, paintings on wood panels from the 3rd and 4th century are still in tact as compared to canvas from later periods.

Q. How can I repair a damaged corner?
Answer:  If a corner has been damaged on one of your panels, you can rebuild it using wood filler, modeling paste or even just acrylic gesso. Place tape around the damaged corner creating a square support edge, fill the space with the filler, allow it dry, remove the tape and sand it square and flat. Apply gesso over the patch so you can reapply and repair the painting if necessary. If a corner has “spread” after being dropped, you can iron it down using a household iron on high setting with plenty of pressure. Cover the surface of the corner with a heat resistant paper or fabric so that the surface of the panel does not scorch. If the painting surface is also damaged, you will need to reapply gesso or other surface coating. Request a free patch kit with a small amount of the coating you’re using to get a perfect match. Contact us by phone or email for the patch kit.

Q. Is the new Artist Panel archival since it’s a value series product?
Answer:  The short answer is yes. The Artist Panel™ has an acrylic gesso surface with a neutral pH. The wood is sealed during the coating process to prevent discoloration and to ensure that the artwork will stand the test of time.