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All Things Ampersand

Aquabord™ 2.0

 

Aquabord™ has undergone a number of important changes over the past few months due to a change in one of the raw materials we use to produce this unique surface for watercolors. We saw this challenge as an opportunity to make Aquabord even better than before. While the new Aquabord is in essence, the very same, it does have a few differences: 

 

Left: Previous version
Right: New flatter version

1. The new Aquabord™ surface has a flatter, more even texture. It’s less pebbly and feels more like a cold press watercolor paper.

2.  The new surface is slightly softer. You need to use less pressure when wet-lifting paint just like you would on paper.
3.  The new surface is more absorbent and emphatically more like watercolor paper (see helpful tips below).
4.  The new surface requires less water for washes and blends. It behaves more like a cold press watercolor paper now, so you don’t need as much water for wicking the paint across the surface – the paint moves more freely and blends beautifully.
5.  The vibrant color you’re accustomed to still applies.
6.  The lovely eggshell color of the natural clay you’re accustomed to is still around.
7.  You can still seal your watercolors and frame them without glass.

Top: New version
Bottom: Old version

 

Some helpful tips: The new Aquabord surface is very porous. You may see some air bubbles come up when you apply very wet washes of color. To prevent this, flush the surface first before you start painting. Take a flat brush and apply big washes of water across the surface. Allow all the air bubbles to release. When the surface reaches a damp stage, then you can start applying watercolor to the surface. By allowing the air to escape first, you are basically opening up your surface to accept the pigment. This process will prevent those tiny air bubbles from affecting the consistency of the smooth transitions in your washes. 

Top: Washes on Aquabord
Bottom: Washes on Watercolor Paper

 

More than a dozen professional watercolor painters and avid Aquabord users repeatedly tested our trial runs until we had the surface they felt worked best. As a result, we think you will love this new version of Aquabord. Either way, you are welcome share your feedback with us. We make Aquabord for you and it matters to us that you have a successful experience with our products.

We greatly appreciate your patience over the last few months during this reformulation. We think the new Aquabord is well worth the wait and we hope you do too. Now it’s time to do what you love and get back to painting watercolors on Aquabord!

Get Ready for Back to School with Ampersand

Ampersand Booth at Namta in Phoenix, 2011

 

We are back from a successful trip to Phoenix where we attended the annual NAMTA (National Art Materials Trade Association) trade show. We showcased a number of new display items for retailers for the Fall Back to School Season. If you missed us at the show, be sure to contact us for pricing and details on these great new displays for your store. And artists, be on the look out for these displays this Fall!

First, we have a new Artist Panel™ Pallet Stacker. Easily unload it right from the truck into your store. Available in both mixed 3/4″ and 1.5″ profiles or in just the 1.5″ profile. It comes with the bright green skid! 

New Artist Panel Pallet Stacker for Fall

 

Next, we have a new product. It’s a smooth version of the Artist Panel™ that can be used with oils, acrylics and mixed media. It’s perfect for the artist who prefers a smoother surface in contrast to the canvas texture of the standard Artist Panel. Portraits, landscapes, this is your surface. The 1/8″ profile fits nicely into pochade boxes as well. Prices to artists start as low as .59 each! This little counter top display was very popular at the show. Contact us if you’d like to get one for BTS.

New Smooth Artist Panel in a compact counter top display for Fall

 

And, we have these fun Gessobord™ blow-out multi-pack boxes. Each box comes filled with Gessobord and priced to sell. We have four varieties available each packed with top selling skus. Contact us for pricing.
 

Gessobord Blow-Out Sale Multi-Pack boxes for Fall

 

And last, but not least! Scratchbord™ artist Linda Sheets designed six new scratchbord kits and showcased them at the show. The new kits feature the most adorable characters. She created over 100 monkeys and dogs in scratchboard for our dealers over the course of the show. The new kits will be available in stores for Fall. Contact us for pricing and availability.
 

Linda Sheets monkeying around

 

“Crowned Monkey”, one of Linda Sheets’ new kit designs

 


All of these new store displays will be available for shipping mid-late June. 
 

In other news, we’d like to congratulate our newest Encaustic Painting Center, Sarnoff Artist Materials. They picked up our show display and loaded it right into their store that weekend. Tucson artists can now buy all the Encausticbord™ and R&F handmade paints and accessories they could possibly desire. See the store for details.
 


We did manage to explore some of the sites in Phoenix, there was plenty of wonderful art in public places and museums just waiting for us to find.

 

Ampersand’s own Dana Brown and friend

 

500 Hopi Katsina dolls at the Heard Museum

 

And, of course we got to see some good friends.

Patti Brady from Golden® modeling our swag.

 


Our friends at R&F were right across from us.

 

Stella Alesi Exhibition Feb. 27 – March 13, 2011

 

We had the pleasure yesterday of visiting artist Stella Alesi’s opening at the Ladybird Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. Stella has been a longtime user and supporter of our Ampersand Gessobord over the years. All of her paintings in the show are painted on Gessobord™. We took a few pictures of the installation to share with you. If you are in the area, you should make it a point to visit both the Wildflower Center and the show. The paintings are located inside the Carriage House and are showing in conjunction with Richard Reynolds who does large scale photographic prints on canvas. None of the photographs were enhanced or color corrected, the paintings are just that good! Enjoy!

Top five reasons to use the new Encausticbord™ by guest blogger Lisa Pressman

 

In the past, I painted on stretched canvas, gessoed Masonite boards, and other wood panels for a very long time. Then, I discovered Ampersand panels about ten years ago when I was first introduced to encaustic. I purchased some small 5”x7” Claybords to use for experiments and ended up doing a series on them using vintage postcards and encaustic. 
 

“Arrived Alright”, 5”x7” postcards and encaustic on Claybord, 2003

 

 

Around the same time, I began using the cradled Claybords for my oil paintings. I loved drawing with charcoal on the clay surface and also rubbing thin layers of oil paint to achieve a luminous light. 
 

Lisa Pressman, “At the Moment”,
24”x24”, oil on Claybord™, 2005.

 

Lisa Pressman, “Walking the Line”,
36”x36”, oil on Claybord™, 2010.

 

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Today, in the studio, I have 4 – 36”x36” cradled Claybords up and working for my upcoming show at The Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia, January 2011. 
 

Recently, I was asked by Ampersand to try out their new product specifically made for encaustics called, Encausticbord. They wanted to see what I thought of their new product in comparison to the Claybord I have been using over the years. Happily, I created a list of my top five favorite things about this new surface to share with you.
Top five reasons to use Encausticbord
 

 

1. Convenience 
I love when I bring home my nicely packaged and ready to paint Encausticbords. I am so busy with the multitasking of a studio practice, my art business, teaching, and family responsibilities, the faster I get going in my studio, the better. No building, no sanding, no gesso, no drying…just get working. They are gallery ready. Paint, wire, deliver, done!

 

2. The Surface
The surface of the new Encausticbord™ is very smooth, easy to draw on and whiter than white. It is as great as the Claybord to draw on, but more absorbent with more tooth, so the inks, charcoals and pastels really soak in as opposed to on the Claybord where their tendency is to “slide” across the surface. When you apply wax to the Encausticbord™, the light showing through the layers is bright white vs. the soft eggshell or cream color of the Claybord.

 

3. Multimedia Compatible
In my work, I combine wax, ink, charcoal, collage, soft pastels, R and F pigment sticks and oils. I have found that all of these materials respond beautifully to the Encausticbord™ surface.

 

4. Absorbent, Durable and Tested
I like to know that I am using a product that is tested for absorbency, durability and archival quality. The ground was tested by both R&F Handmade Paints and Ampersand, so I am confident that there will not be any cracking. It is also resistant to extreme heat from not only heat guns, but also torches. The larger panels are structurally braced, so I haven’t experienced any warping. 

5. Great for teaching, demos, workshops
I have found that by using Encausticbord with beginning students, it eases the learning curve because it is already the right surface for encaustic and needs no preparation. There is no second-guessing as to whether or not the ground will perform. 

 

R and F’s new Circle Cold Too

 

For more information about the new Encausticbord, visit the Ampersand website or check with your local dealer

About Lisa Pressman
She began her studies in ceramics, sculpture and painting at Douglass College, NJ and finished with a Bachelor of Art. Next, she received her MFA in painting from Bard College. For more information about the artist and her exhibition schedule, visit her website and her blog.

Mounting flexible supports to panel, an archival practice by Andrea Pramuk

 

Supplies:
• Claybord™, Hardbord™ or Gessobord™ 1/8˝ flat, 3/4˝ cradled or 2˝ deep cradle
• Primed or un-primed canvas or linen
• 2˝ paint brush or trowel
• Golden® Soft Gel Gloss Medium or Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive
• Golden® GAC100 to size Hardbord™
• X-acto™ Knife
• Damp cloth or paper towels
• Rubber brayer or plastic squeegee

• Large heavy board

• Water jugs or heavy weights

Many artists today choose to mount their flexible canvas or paper to rigid supports for a number of reasons. One is to preserve the painting qualities of canvas or paper while gaining the advantages of painting on a panel. The other is that flexible supports are more susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity that can contribute to deterioration of the paint film over time. You can counteract the instability of fabrics and paper and make your paintings more archival by mounting flexible supports on an Ampersand™ panel.

There are many ways to mount a flexible support to a panel. I chose the archival practice that was easiest to do and worked the best. The materials suggested can be mixed and matched in order to suit your purposes. For example, you may substitute paper for the canvas or the Lineco adhesive for the Golden® soft gel medium. After a few attempts, you will develop your own personal preferences.

Ampersand Claybord™ and Gessobord™ are the easiest, least labor-intensive choices in archival substrates for mounting. Because both panels are sealed with the Archiva-Seal™ barrier and then primed with acid-free grounds, it is only necessary to apply adhesive since no sealing is required. Hardbord™ and other types of un-primed woods like plywood, on the other hand, do require sealing—see the extra step. Another time saver is to choose a pre-primed canvas or linen so you don’t have to gesso or prime after mounting the fabric to the panel.


1. Begin by trimming the fabric to size. Allow for a 2˝ overlap around the panel (not shown). Note: if you plan to wrap the canvas around the panel, you will need to seal the edges and back of the panel with GAC100 (see Extra Step at bottom). Otherwise, go straight to step 2.
 

 

2. To maximize adhesion, thin the Golden soft gel medium with a little water and apply it over the front of the panel (Lineco, not necessary). Be sure to coat the sides of the panel so that the fabric adheres properly all the way to the edge. I usually apply extra gel medium or glue at the four corners because they are the most vulnerable to lifting. Keep applying medium or glue until you have a fairly thick evenly wet coat. Quickly move to the next step.

3. With the fabric ground side face down, position the panel wet glue-side down in the center and press down firmly. Clean any extra glue off the back with a damp towel to prevent your panel from sticking underneath while drying (3a). Flip over the canvas together with the panel and go over the surface from the center out using a rubber brayer or squeegee to remove any wrinkles, lumps or air pockets (3b).


3a

 

3b

 



4. Cover the face of the fabric with either wax paper or butcher paper (something that will not stick to the glue) and place a heavy larger board over the top. I used a larger shrink-wrapped panel. Weight the board down with jugs of water or something heavy and allow it to dry overnight (not shown). If you’re doing multiple panels at once, place wax paper or butcher paper in between the panels. Use the larger board with weights at the very top of the stack.

 

5. The next day, take out your panels and place them one at a time face down on a clean surface for cutting. Using a fresh X-acto™ knife, cut flush around the edges for a perfect and clean look (5a). If you would rather wrap your corners (1/8˝ panels only), apply gel medium or glue to the back where the fabric will overlap and quickly pull the corners in to fold (5b). Brayer or squeegee over the folds to smooth. Clean up excess glue with a wet towel. No weight is necessary in this step, but do allow the panel to dry thoroughly. The panels will be safe to paint on or gesso in 1-3 days. Extra Step: When using Hardbord™ or any other un-primed wood panels as your substrate, follow the same instructions above, but add this important step first. It is important to correctly seal all un-primed wood substrates to prevent support-induced discoloration that can cause your paint film to yellow over time.


 

 

 


 

Extra Step: When using Hardbord™ or any other un-primed wood panels as your substrate, follow the same instructions above, but add this important step first. It is important to correctly seal all un-primed wood substrates to prevent support-induced discoloration that can cause your paint film to yellow over time.

Apply Golden GAC100 directly to the Hardbord with the 2˝ paint brush or trowel. Allow the GAC100 to dry completely and follow with an additional coat. Do not sand between layers.



Before applying the adhesive in Step 2, allow the GAC100 to dry for 1-3 days so that the sealer can coalesce into a uniform film for maximum protection.

Click here for a downloadable PDF version of this article.