Painting on panel: Cradling and supports

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 inches cradling is advised.


Cradles are a separate unit the size of the panel that is attached to the back using carpenter's glue and C-clamps. Larger size cradles 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. This will give you a blemished surface that is certain to deteriorate over time.

Save yourself the trouble of 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 1/2" and 2" profiles all carefully made by hand in Buda, Texas. The 3/4" and 1 1/2" cradle profiles fit perfectly in Ampersand Floaterframes.
The cradles 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 How to paint, stain, or wax the cradle.

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


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