Thursday, May 9, 2013

How to Make Large Light-Weight Panels.

This blog post is in response to a number of inquiries
received a few weeks ago on facebook about the process
of 'How to Make Large Light-Weight Panels'.  

The process is a bit time consuming, but is fairly simple and easy to do,
provided one has the proper work space, tools and patience.

If, the Old Masters had plywood available to them back in their times
I believe the use of canvas would not be as popular as it is today.

Working on a rigid surface has so many benefits to the painting process
and is so much better for the artwork itself in the long run.

The Process.

Firstly, I go to a local lumberyard and select 1 or 2 sheets of 
4‘ x 8‘ ¼” birch plywood and have the sheets cut to a manageable sizes 
this way the plywood can easily fit into the car and can be cut in the shop.
(You can use pine plywood which is lighter than birch,
however the grain is not as tight and smooth as it is with birch.)

Then I get few 1” x 6” poplar boards at 8’ for the bracers.
Everything should fit in the car or on top (more-or-less).
Back in the shop I mark out the desired sizes and cut the plywood
on the table saw or rig up a jig on the work table using the skillsaw.
For the poplar, I rip 1 1/4” strips on the table saw.
Usually one can get 5 strips from a 1“ x 6“ board.
Save the little cut off strips, for other uses around the shop,
such as cutting them at 6" for clamping purposes in this case. 
 Panels - 1/4" Birch Plywood.
In this case, I have 4 30"x30" panels and 2 36"x36" panels. 
Bracers - 3/4" x 1 1/4" Poplar Strips. 
For the 30"x30"; long strip 30" short strip 27 7/16".
For the 36" x 36"; long strip 36" short strip 33". 
The needed tools.

Long bar clamps.
A few more long bar clamps and plenty of wood glue.
At the Work Table.
Begin by placing the bracers at the corner of your work bench.
Take the longest length first (place in front of you)
and then take the short length to create a degree angle.
Glue the bracers face side up.
Place the panel on top of glued bracers, making sure all sides are flush.
Use the other bracers to create some support for the back corner 
of the panel(s) keeping them level and even.
Repeat this process for all the panels.
Once all the panels are glued, flush and stacked it's time to clamp!
Take the larger clamps and space them evenly - all corners and in the middle. 
Make sure as you tighten the clamps the glue is squeezed out.
Clean-up the excess glue.
Take the other clamps and place between the corner and
middle clamps and clean-up any excess glue.
Use the other bracers as temporary support for the back corners.
Let the glue dry for a good solid 12 hours before
repeating the process for the other side.
Back side of panel with bracers.
Once all four bracers are attached and the glued
is fully dry the panels are ready for priming.
30" x 30" Primed Light-Weight Panel.
And there you have it!
Stay tuned for more what's new from the studio.
Cheers, ~ Polly ~


jeronimus said...

Hi Poly. Thanks for posting this. I sometimes find the texture of canvas too much for very fine work. And love working on panels.

Seip Fine Art said...

Hi there Jeronimus!

Thank you for your comment!

Yes! I know exactly what you mean, even fine canvas and linen ducks can still have a little too texture which can interfer with brushwork. In my earlier artistic days I worked primarily on canvas and was gradually introduced to canvas mounted panels, and then panels and ultimately to 1/2" doubled sided mdo (medium density overlay board and brich plywood. MDO board is smooth, rigid, and can be screwed into for framing purposes. Though after a certain size the 1/2" mdo starts becoming too heavy, so I switch to the 1/4" Birch plywood for all larger works, hence this blog post. I still believe if the masters had plywood available to them canvas wouldn't be a popular as it is today.

Cheers, ~ Polly ~