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Thread: Making my own masonite boards - tips?

  1. #1
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    Making my own masonite boards - tips?

    I'm making my own masonite illustration boards for painting on; more specifically, oil painting. I figured it would be cheaper this way, if it works (I paid about $10 for 8 square feet of 1/4 inch masonite and about $20 for primer and gesso).

    So far I've cut the board down to size, primered it and then gessoed it(2 layers). I'll sand the surface flat once it dries completely (is this a good idea?). Is there any thing I've done wrong or anything I need to do, or should this set me up with an adequate painting surface? I don't really care that much about longevity of the painting(though it's a nice perk).

    Anything else I need to know about this process?

    _wil
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    You're on the right track.
    If you get warping, gesso both sides.
    Experiment with different surfaces. Really slop the gesso on with lots of strokes. A roller will give you lots of regular texture. Try a foam brush for smooth coats. For a super smooth finish, wet sand. Those foam sanding blocks do the trick.

    Tristan Elwell
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  5. #3
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    you are working waaay too hard

    I get a good painting surface with gesso on paper. I buy Watercolor blocks and tape tham off and gesso them I have abou 9 of them in rotation. I like to work on Black gesso. or terra cotta
    but all that sanding and layering isnt really nessisary. unless you are really going to be investing huge amounts of time on the paintings
    for oil skeches, experiments and messes. just gesso in two directions. I dont sand a little texture on the board is kinda fun.
    for pastels a little sand in the gesso gives you a better tooth .

    If you are going to be working really big and investing a lot of time. 3 or 4 coats of gesso sanded is probably a good idea...but if you are making that kind of time investment you should bust out the resourcces and work on stretched canvas.

    have fun!...and show us pics when you get done! please
    chaos
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    Chaos, there's nothing wrong with what you are doing, but...
    Some people like the super smooth surface you can only get on hardboard.
    Some people like something solid and substantial to paint on.
    Canvas is no "better" than a panel, just different.

    Tristan Elwell
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    I imagine sanding would be more important for thin layers of egg-tempera. That's what the old masters did, anyway. For oil painting, it's gonna be so thick anyway, why bother?

    The only thing with masonite is it'll warp under it's own weight, if it's too big. You may want to consider illustration board, although that's more expensive.
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    i love that super smooth fealing the paint just glides around.

    one thing i learnd is it works really well to just slop on a bunch of gesso then take something with a good smooth edge and use that to spread it like a squigi(sp?). if your looking for super smooth brushes leave strokes in the gesso and that makes more sanding. also mount small 1x2 or 1x1 boards around the edges of your board that will give it a riged frame and prevent warping. to do this its best to use alot of strong wood glue( or for me when i didnt have that i used some old acrylic gloss medium i hade that i didnt like) then use a small nails to help hold the boards on. but the main thing holding them will be the glue. bahh cradle thats the term for the boards. i was trying to think of that this whole time. one thing is tho it easyer to frame an uncradeld board then a cradled one.
    never updated sketchbook

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    yeah I like the way a big canvas kinda bounces as you work on it realy fast. I f you are working really big and are worried about warp-age I know painters that work on 4X8 sheets of the best interior grade plywood.

    also latex matte house paint makes pretty good gesso. you just have to experiment untill you get what you want.

    I like the paper cause its easy to work on, the blocks are ridged (or I tape the paper to plexiglass.) for quick things that are gonna be concepts anyway. also paper is easy to store... and easy to pitch in the bonfire when you really screw up.

    ;P
    chaos
    To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

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    As an alternative to making them, which is time intensive, you can buy really nice canvas panels online at Source-Tek (canvaspanels.com) I'm still waiting to receive a batch of masonite panels from them but they make linen on baltic birch panels that are fantastic, with a nice range of prices to choose from. A poor quality painting surface can dramatically affect the way you apply paint.
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    Im not so sure of that.
    bettermaterials does not always = better painting
    I wish it did

    It does make it different.. but not nessisarily better



    It doesn't hurt your art to be broke. just makes you come up with more creative solutions

    chaos
    To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaosrocks
    It doesn't hurt your art to be broke. just makes you come up with more creative solutions.
    not entirely true....

    my students often come into class with horrible supplies.
    canvas board, old brushes with no hairs left on them, all the wrong colors.
    there are certain things you just can NOT do without the right supplies.
    even on my best of days, when i sit down to correct their image, i just cant do what i want to do with the crap they bring in.

    creative solutions aren't necessarily better solutions,
    especially when you have something specific in mind you want to achieve.

    spend the money on good panels.
    if you don't have the money, SPEND THE TIME.
    a good painting starts the moment you apply gesso to your board.
    if you are unhappy with that phase, you are going to be unhappy with everything that follows it.
    - Dan Dos Santos
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  14. #11
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    you have a point. I guess I am a bit spoiled. In that I inherited a huge quantity of really good brushes. and good brushes will last forever if you take time to take care of them...which I do. I use less than 10 colors of paint..but I do buy good quality. The wrong colors are frusterating. you just can't make purple if you start with cadmium red and cobalt blue. That kinda stuff. took me years to find a yellow I like.

    but one can still do amamzing work with less than premium supplies. and conversely you can still make crap with the best!....

    Im merely trying to encourage people who cant afford the best, not to give up
    To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

    Sketch book

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    I made some panels last years and coated them with a traditional gesso. They turned out pretty amazing, one of the nicest surfaces I have painted on for detail. It feels very different from acrylic gesso. This seems like a bigger deal to make than it is. It really isn't that much more than doing it with acrylic gesso, but the results are so worth it. Here is the process I used:


    INGREDIENTS:

    By volume:

    1 part whiting (calcium carbonate with 10% to 20% pigment, Titanium or Zinc White)
    1 part rabbitskin glue solution (mixed at 1 to 12 with water) The water here should be around 110 - 120F. If you get it more than 135F then it will weaken the protein strands in the rabbitskin glue.



    When finished to harden surface:
    1 teaspoon of alum dissolved into a boiling pint of water and left to cool. It should then be sprayed onto the surface or sponged on.


    TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT:

    1) A 2 cup capacity measuring cup.
    2) A container to mix all of your ingredients, a 4 qt. stainless steel pot is ideal.
    3) Another container, slightly larger than the 4 qt. pot, for use as a hot water bath when reconstituting the gesso.
    4) A mixing spoon, stainless steel being the best.
    5) A thermometer with a temperature range of at least 90F - 160F, a candy thermometer is ideal.
    6) Your refrigerator will need enough room in it to accommodate the 4 qt. pot


    HOW TO USE:

    Brush denatured alcohol over the smooth side and edges of untempered Masonite panels and let them dry. Then brush the warm gesso solution onto the panels in one direction without working over with further brushstrokes. After the coat becomes dull, apply subsequent coats in opposite directions, lightly sanding between layers. You'll need as many as five coats for a brilliant surface. Allow them to dry for two days, then finish with 300 sandpaper, finishing off with as smooth as #2000 sandpaper for an ivory sheen. You can also rub the panel with a ball of dampened cloth for an ivory surface (requires practice but worth the effort)

    NOTES:

    When I made it, I took the advice of Rob Howard over at Studio Products and let the gesso sit overnight in the fridge and then warmed it the next day in a warm water bath. At this point, there are no bubbles and the mix is something in the middle of cream and half and half.

    I bought my rabbit skin glue at Studio Products, the marble powder at local Utrecht, and the pigment on the net... can't remember where, but search a little and you will find some good deals.

    Good luck!
    LYON
    Fine Art and Illustration
    www.howardlyon.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by wil.whalen
    ...So far I've cut the board down to size, primered it and then gessoed it(2 layers). ...
    I'm assuming you're talking about acrylic "gesso" as your primer, and by "primered" you mean "sized?" When using acrylic primer on panels or paper for oil painting, it's wise to size it beforehand to protect it from the oils. Some people only use the primer, but it would take several more coats which is more effort and time. Hide glue/gelatin, shellac, or various types of acrylic polymers can be used for sizing.

    Priming the back has never helped me avoid warping on large thin boards. You can mount it to a frame cradle, or temporarily tack it to a larger board (a hot glue gun could do this.)

    It's helpful to sand the board before you start to open up the surface let the coats adhere better. Wipe that down with denatured alcohol to clean off any free resins. Be careful to avoid breathing dust or sanded primer.

    Most folks think you can start as soon as it's dry, which is fine for acrylic paints, but for oils you need to wait several weeks for the acrylic primer to cure.
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