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All Things Ampersand

Artists Changing Tomorrow

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“The arts are a gift to our children’s present as well as their future, “ says Karen Vernon, a long time friend and product consultant to Ampersand and an internationally recognized watercolorist.  She founded Artists Changing Tomorrow in 2010 in order to fund art education in Texas.   

 

Artists Changing Tomorrow is a program developed to sustain and maintain the arts: visual, literary and performing.  Its goal is to provide art education and arts outreach via schools and community programs.  To achieve its goals, ACT has developed a bi-annual silent auction to raise funds, where art is donated from one hundred artists around the world.  This years auction is on February 18th at the Sterling McCall Event Center in Warrenton, Texas.   Works will include oils, acrylics, watercolors as well as painting, fiber art, photography and ceramics. 

Artwork from the 2010 auction

 

Ampersand has been honored to be an underwriter of the event  and the supplier for the panels, either Gessobord™, Claybord™, Aquabord™, Pastelbord™ or Scratchbord™.  Each piece has been created on an Ampersand panel, and you can view the entire auction online at the ACT website:  ACT 2012.

To purchase tickets for the event, register for proxy bidding or order a show catalog contact ARTS, Arts of Rural Texas, information below.

Arts for Rural Texas
114 N. Live Oak
Fayetteville, TX 78940
979-378-2113
info@artsforruraltexas.org

Even if you don’t live in Texas, you can be part of ACT and part of this event.  If you wish to donate to the event or register for the auction and bid by proxy, you can call ARTS, Arts of Rural Texas at  979-378-2113.  If you are an artist desiring to be considered for the next invitational auction in 2014, contact ARTS at info@artsforruraltexas.org

Warmly,
Karyn

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!

How to Print Etchings on Claybord or Aquabord by Charles Ewing

“Old Bones”, etching printed on Claybord by Charles Ewing

 

Printing a zinc or copper plate etching (or drypoint) onto the clay surface of Claybord or Aquabord has three distinct advantages over printing on paper:

• The permanence of the print: Claybord is an archival surface<
• The ability to rework prints with mistakes or add finishing details and colors
• Glass free presentation

A matte acrylic varnish or spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) sprayed on the Claybord works well and seems to bring out the relief caused by the clay pressing into the etched lines of the plate. The following exercise is a great place to start.

 

1. Etch a zinc or copper plate as you would for printing on paper except for: a. Avoid deep wide lines as the clay pressing into the line cannot “reach” the ink in the bottom of the etched lines. b. Use as thin a metal plate as will take your depth of etching and bevel the edges. The thicker plates seem to be pushed by the press, digging into the clay surface.

2. Choose an appropriate Claybord size and determine the placement of the image. Sand the edges to prevent damage to the press blankets. If Aquabord is used, the surface should be lightly sanded.
3. Using matboard or thick paper (should be same or slightly thinner than the metal plate), cut a template with outside dimensions the same as the Claybord, with an opening the size of the plate cut into it for consistent positioning of the image during the edition. This also keeps the plate from moving on the clay surface.

4. Ink and wipe the plate as you would for a paper print.
5. Thoroughly wet and sponge dry each piece of Claybord before printing, removing all excess water with the sponge.

6. Place the damp Claybord, clay side up, on the bed of the press. Position the template on top and carefully drop the metal plate into the opening image side down.

7. Print with moderately-heavy pressure to force the softened clay into the etched lines to pick up the ink. Allow to dry thoroughly.

8. Any ink smudges around the image can be cleaned off with fine oil-free steel wool (0000). The image itself can be redefined or manipulated with scratching tools.

9. Varnish with spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) and frame without glass and matting if desired.

About Charles Ewing, inventor of Claybord

 

Charles, a versatile artist with diverse interests in media as well as subject matter, is known for his figurative paintings of people, wildlife and nature. Along with his extensive use of oils, he works in a unique medium of his invention known as Claybord. He has also been instrumental in developing new printmaking techniques and enjoys the third dimension of bronze sculpture.

Charles was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and now resides near the south San Juan mountains of Southern Colorado. An avid outdoorsman, Charles’ paintings of nature and wildlife come largely from personal observation, each year spending many weeks on horseback in the nearby wilderness areas. Travels in Latin America and Europe have also offered much inspiration for his work. He is collected widely and shows in several Southwest galleries. http://www.charlesewing.com
This etching process is fully illustrated along with a number of other printing and painting techniques on Claybord in Charles Ewing’s book, The New Scratchboard available at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/New-Scratchboard-Charles-Ewing/dp/08230465833

 

Charles Ewing discusses the invention of Claybord“The invention of Claybord, as with most new products, was developed out of necessity. I loved the scratchboard drawing technique, being able to create highlights by scratching off the black ink to expose the white clay underneath, however the traditional scratchboard left much to be desired as a fine art surface. It was much too fragile both in the versatility of technique as well as in framed presentation requiring one to glue the thin cardboard to a flat stiff hardboard to keep it flat and to protect the soft surface with glass.

I was able to eliminate these problems by developing a clay coated panel which, unlike scratchboard, would readily accept very wet applications of water media, such as India ink washes, without hurting the clay layer and which could simply be varnished and framed without glass like an oil painting. I made these panels for my own use one or two at a time for ten years before my wife and I decided to bring them to market, first making them on a very limited scale in an old adobe shed behind the house. Later, we helped Ampersand Art Supply in Austin, Texas create and manufacture Claybord for the national and international art materials market.”

Poetic Spaces – Watercolors on Aquabord by Ali Cavanaugh

I discovered Ampersand’s Aquabord with the 2˝ Deep Cradle about a year ago and it has been such a wonderful surface for my watercolors. Previously, I worked on paper, but always struggled with its limitations in presentation. The flawless pebbly surface of Aquabord takes layers and layers of pigment without wearing down. The paint is amazingly workable and removable on this surface. Also, it is so nice that I am able to display my watercolors without glass and that they are already framed when done. Continue Reading >>