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All Things Ampersand

Ampersand Celebrates 20th Anniversary with International Art Exhibit

Ampersand Art Supply GalleryWe will host an art exhibition featuring over 50 well-recognized national and local Texas artists to celebrate 20 years since we launched our business in 1994. Steve Hanks, Luana Luconi Winner, Louise LeBourgeois, Ali Cavanaugh, Roi James, Sally Maxwell and Amado Peña are just a few of the artists whose work will be part of this historic exhibit.

Seggebruch encaustic
Life on Fire, Encaustic by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch

A public art opening will take place Thursday, October 2 from 6:00–9:00pm in Ampersand’s new manufacturing facility and art gallery located in Buda, TX.  According to company President and CEO, Elaine Salazar, “We felt that the best way to celebrate our 20 year journey, was to show a collection of work from some of the many amazing artists throughout the country who have been faithfully working on the surfaces we produce.” 

The exhibition will continue throughout the month of October and will be open to the public Mon-Fri between the hours of 9:00–5:00pm.

In 1994, Ampersand Art Supply began its mission of reviving the time-honored tradition of panel painting with the creation of Claybord™, their very first coated painting panel. Colorado artist and inventor of Claybord, Charles Ewing, partnered with Ampersand to develop it further and see its commercial success. Today, Ampersand’s product line has expanded to ten different surfaces in a variety of profiles and sizes. Ampersand sells its panels in all major art supply stores throughout the US. More recently, Ampersand launched its products in Germany and Great Britain. Marketing Director, Andrea Pramuk, who has been with the company since 1995, says Ampersand will continue to launch their line in key countries throughout Europe, Australia, and Japan in 2015. 

Spotted, Scratchbord
by Sally Maxwell


According to President and CEO, Elaine Salazar, “we are so grateful for those early pioneering artists who tried our panels and freely offered to help us refine each surface that makes the Ampersand family of “bords”. This family of artists still help us today.” She went on to say that a few key dealers played a critical role in the early years as they launched the line. Salazar remembers sending a piece of Claybord in a priority mail envelope to Allen Shefts, who then worked at Pearl Paint on Canal Street in New York. “A buyer called within days expressing an interest. It was that first order from Pearl for 1000 pieces of Claybord that officially launched Ampersand into the market in 1994.” According to Salazar, Meininger’s and Guiry’s, both Colorado dealers, were also a few of the earlier retailers who agreed to carry some of the product. “These were the days when Charles Ewing and his wife Barbara had tried to market Claybord under the brand, “Clayboard–real neat stuff” “, she adds.

In 1994, with the help of several local angel investors, family, and friends, the company set up its manufacturing facility at 1500 East 4 St in East Austin where it operated until 2013 before moving its entire operation to its current location in Buda. According to Edwin Ramos, Chief Operating Officer, Ampersand had completely outgrown the old 13,000 sq. ft. space in East Austin. The company had been operating out of two locations in Austin for over 5 years before moving to their current location in Buda. The company purchased and renovated the old shrimp farm metal building, “Big Blue”, for its new home, located about 20 minutes south of Austin. The new facility houses approximately 60,000 sq ft of manufacturing, warehousing, and office/gallery space. Backing from the local Buda Economic Development Council, Hays County, First State Bank of Central Texas and the SBA made the move possible for this small business. Salazar also shares, “As a small business, it has taken the hearts and hands of so many people to make it all happen. We are so grateful to both the Austin and the Buda communities and to the artists worldwide who use our products.”
   

Our building in Buda!



















The gallery is located at:

Ampersand Art Supply
1235 S. Loop 4, Suite 400, Buda, TX 78610

Public opening on October 2, 2014 from 6-9 p.m.
The show will be open daily M-F from 10am-5pm through October 31, 2014.

Andrea Pramuk,
Marketing Director
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Claybord used as Scratchboard

Claybord™ can be coated with inks and used like a traditional scratchboard. The advantage to using Claybord as a scratchboard is that you can control the tonal variations unlike using a traditional black scratchboard. Claybord is also more forgiving than paper scratchboards. The surface can be scratched and painted many times without compromising the quality of the surface. Try this exercise and see how easy it is to do.

1. Begin by coating the panel with an even layer of India ink. The inks should be shaken and diluted slightly before applying to allow for even coverage. To achieve a very even coat of ink, an air brush should be used. If an airbrush is unavailable use cotton balls, paper towels, a sponge brush, or a large soft bristle brush to apply the ink.

2. Allow the ink to dry. You will see the ink absorbing into the surface. Your board will be dry in a few minutes.

3. Use a soft graphite pencil to sketch the image on top of the coated board. This sketch should be used as a pattern for cutting. It does not have to be very detailed.

4. Use a scratchboard knife like a pen to cut into the surface and remove the ink leaving crisp white lines. Additional scraping tools and steel wool can be used to render detail and create texture. Not much pressure is needed to remove the ink because it remains on the surface of the clay.

5. If necessary, more ink can be applied to an area to cover-up ‘mistakes’ and to allow you to begin again.


6. When finished, the board can be sprayed with a spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss) and framed without glass!.

Written by Charles Ewing
More work and articles by Charles in upcoming blog posts.

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Insights from the World of Scratchbord, Part 2

Gold Ring,  20″ x 16″
Part One from artist Lisa Goesling:  Insights from the World of Scratchbord

The man responsible for the beloved Scratchbords is Renaissance man, Charles Ewing. He’s lived all over the world, immersing himself in diversity and allowing it to saturate his art, charlesewing.com. Charles served in the Peace Corps as an artist documenting wildlife in Chile. Someone suggested that he might enjoy scratchboards, so when he returned to the states, he checked them out.
He didn’t like the existing material. “It had limitations in terms of size, and strength, and had to be preserved under glass.” A costly mishap with the mediocre scratchboards of the day, forced him to lose a sale. The glue holding the cardboard scratchboard to the Masonite softened in the sun creating a bubble that couldn’t be flattened. Frustrated, he set out to create a better substrate.
Humility II,  20″ x 16″
His first attempt was a success. Charles applied clay with a binder to a hard board, and added some ink; the medium could get wet but never dissolved, it was perfect!

At the time, he was living in Colorado, a few farms away from Elaine Salazar. She was working towards her MBA at the University of Texas and looking for a good product to feature for a business project. Charles invited her to his workshop to see his new invention and she fell in love with the idea.


She wasn’t the only one. Elaine stood before a board of investors whose sole purpose was to critique each product. After she finished, one of the investors stood up and said, “Ok, I am in!”
Cleaning God’s House,  24″ x 18″
That is how Ampersand Art, and its signature Claybords were born. The white porcelain boards covered in black ink are now called Scratchbords and the plain white porcelain clay boards are still referred to as Claybord™. Charles works with the latter. “The black and white pieces seen on my website were done using India ink on the Claybords. I start drawing with soft graphite easily erasing with fine steel wool as I change the composition. When satisfied, I begin applying ink washes, gradually going darker as the image progresses. At any time in the process, I can scratch or abrade the ink off of the white clay surface, creating sharp or broad highlights.”
Kale Vendor,  20″ x 16″
Charles continues to work with this medium; “A lot of people find my art intriguing because they have never seen anyone work like this before. It has a certain mystique to it.” Charles has sold his Claybords, Oil Paintings and Bronze Sculptures through many galleries, but now also runs his own. He explained that after years of having someone else sell his art, he has learned that it is so much more rewarding to actually know the person who is buying it. “I really enjoy talking with folks who come by my shop and making a connection. That is what art it is all about, making connections, it’s a really nice experience.”

You can see a lot more of Charles’ work on his website, along with his bio and upcoming events: charlesewing.com


Written by Lisa Goesling

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.