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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.

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.

Painting on Panel: Cradling and Supports

Cradled panels in the warehouse

In order to give a panel extra support, many artists produce a bracing system (cradling) for their panels. While this is not an option for solid wood panels due to their expansion and contraction over time, manufactured panels are structurally sound enough to be cradled. For panels over 24″ cradling is advised. 

Elaine and Veronica inspecting panels


Cradles are generally a separate unit the size of the panel that is attached to the back using carpenters glue and C-clamps. Larger size cradles will generally have cross-braces, much like stretcher bars for canvas. When choosing a wood for your cradle, it’s best to go with high quality multi-ply plywood, as this will give you the best protection against warping. Solid woods are to be avoided, as they have a uniform grain that will warp over time in a thin strip. Do not nail or screw the cradle onto the panel, or you will have a blemished surface that is certain to deteriorate over time. 

Save yourself the trouble of all this carpentry work by using an Ampersand cradled panel. Only Ampersand builds their cradles by hand with premium grade 13-ply birch plywood for maximum stability and a clean, finished look from edge to edge. Choose from 3/4″, 1.5″ and 2″ Deep, all carefully made by hand in Buda, Texas. 
Ampersand Claybord and Gessobord panels are now available in a new 1.5″ Cradle Profile that offers you more flexibility for hanging and framing your work. Featuring a 1.5″ total depth, this new cradle profile is handcrafted with premium grade 13-ply birch plywood, designed to fit both standard canvas and floater frames. The cradle can easily be painted or stained to complement the artwork or primed with gesso to wrap the image around the edges.

For ideas on how to treat the edges of the cradle, consult this article on hanging and framing.

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

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

Featured Artist: Patricia Seggebruch

 

Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, encaustic artist, experimenter extraordinaire, inventor, camp director, author, instructor, and a mom of four boys is possibly one of the busiest artists I know. She is truly a presence in the encaustic community and a leading instructor on this medium, with several books and DVDs out to instruct people on how accessible this medium can be. She makes encaustic possible and reachable to those that are hesitant to start the medium or to work in the arts at all.

 


Trish has always been creative–sewing when she was younger, creating her own designs and trying everything new in different mediums and techniques. When her boys were younger, she was working in mixed media for an artistic outlet, and wanted to get more texture in her pieces. While starting with paraffin on her own and doing some research, she came across encaustic and took a workshop. There was no going back.  

 

Since Trish was already familiar with Ampersand panels for her other mixed media work, primarily Claybord, it was a given that she would want the perfect surface for heated wax. In communicating with Elaine Salazar, Ampersand’s President/CEO, Trish began to discuss what was needed in a panel for encaustic. Soon after, Elaine started collaborating with Richard Frumess at R&F Handmade Paints to create the perfect panel.  to create just the right panel for encaustic. Watch the story of Encausticbord™ as told by Elaine and Richard on our YouTube Channel.

There are so many advantages for an artist to work with Encausticbord. Besides the heat resistent surface, the board is ideal for mixed media, and even accepts watercolors and acrylics, a unique attribute of this surface.  And with the encaustic medium itself, there is no varnishing. Only a light buffing is needed from time to time to remove dust. Also, like all Ampersand panels in the cradled profile, no extra framing is necessary.

 


Trish has created a unique workshop retreat just for encaustic, a week long experience starting from the basics up to all sorts of mixed media and advanced techniques. You can sign up for Encausticamp which is taking registrations until Dec 19th for 2013. It will take place outside of Seattle on a beautiful retreat, with instructors from all over the United States. Samples of Encausticbord will be included for you to try.

Trish advises new artists starting in encaustic to just go for it. The medium can be intimidating, as it is unique in using heated tools, but Trish is working to make it affordable and tangible for artists. She explains that her purpose as an instructor is to educate the next generation of people who can bring the medium back to students. To see more of Trish’s work, signup for her workshops, see her products and check out Encausticamp, peek at her website:  www.pbsartist.com

For those of you living close to Seattle, WA, you can catch a new opening of Trish’s work at the Hanson Scott Gallery, opening December 1, with a gallery talk on December 15.  

All things Ampersand,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply

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

The World of Scratchbord

Scratchbord™ is its own art all together, not that every medium is different, but what makes scratch art so unique is that it begins as a subtractive art.  Ampersand Scratchbord™ has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines.  It is similar to drawing, but in reverse.  Just like other Ampersand boards, Scratchbord™ can be colored, too.  Below I’ve listed some resources and tips for working with Scratchbord™.
This slideshow is from the “A Scratch in Time” exhibition in 2010 in Alamosa, CA.  All work was done on Ampersand Scratchbord.
Working with Scratchbord™:
  • Getting started in Scratchbord with tips from AmpersandStart by drawing your subject matter directly on the Scratchbord™ surface with pastels, plain white chalk or graphite pencil. You can also transfer a completed drawing by chalking the back and tracing over the main lines with a pen or pencil or by using graphite transfer paper. To begin, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Next, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes. Go over areas several times that need to be the most highlighted. When the drawing is completed, clean off any scratched clay-ink debris and chalk dust with a very soft cloth. 
  • Repair a mistake: Although the repaired surface won’t be completely the same as the surface you began with, there are a couple of ways to repair areas that need to be changed. For best results, use Ampersand Black Repair ink or Sumi India ink diluted 1/2 with water and gently apply with a cotton swab or small brush over the area to be repaired. Repeat thin applications until the area is completely covered. An airbrush can also be used for larger areas.
  • “The Chess Player”, 14″ x 18″ by Diana Lee

     

  • Sealing Scratchbord:  Seal Scratchbord™ with an acrylic spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). It will dissolve fingerprints and even out smudges while also protecting the surface from dirt and water. First, remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush or cloth being careful not to scuff the surface. Spray with 2 -3 coats of fixative (as directed on the can) in low humidity, warmer temperatures and in a well-ventilated area. Then, you can frame your finished Scratchbord™ art without glass. 
Tools for Scratchbord:
Coloring Scratchbord:
  • Inks:  To add color, use Scratchbord-Claybord™ Inks that are both waterproof and transparent. For best results, build up the color in diluted washes following the directional lines in the drawing. Other brands of ink can leave heavy residue on the black surface and can be difficult to scratch if not quickly wiped off. For final touch up, apply Ampersand Black Repair ink around the edges of the subject matter to cover any left over residue and over-painting. Once all the color is in, go back and scratch out the highlights. This will give the forms in your drawing volume and dimension. Add more color where needed and repeat this process until you are totally satisfied with the results. 
  • Scratchbord colored flower exercise from Sally Maxwell:  Texas artist, Sally Maxwell, is known for her exquisite scratchboard drawings. Her enthusiasm for the medium led her to develop techniques for using color with scratchboard over twenty years ago. For more information about the artist, please visit www.sallymaxwellsart.com.
  • “Lemons”, by Diana Lee

     

  • Using acrylic:  Scratchbord, similar to Claybord except finished with a topcoat of India Ink, can also accept both watercolor and acrylic.  For a demonstration in coloring scratchbord with acrylic, check out Rock Newcomb’s article: Acrylics on Claybord.
Educational Resources: