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Old 07-27-2017, 11:19 AM
bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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serious conservation framing?

It's been 2 years since I've painted anything. I finally got my Mom to frame the painting that I gave her 2 years ago. I spent ~40 hours of work on that thing and it sat in a closet all that time, because it was not a complete exhibitable work. I've taken a couple of lessons from that. One is that work isn't done unless it's hangable. Another is I'm only likely to spend more hours on my work in the future, and the rinky-dink pre-stretched canvases don't cut it anymore. I want / need to work larger, with more time investment, and I need to protect that time investment for the long haul.

I'm still poor as dirt and will need to be doing all my own gallery wrapping or framing myself. Fortunately I do have the appropriate mentality of a woodworker, as evidenced by all the auto repair I've learned over the past decade. I'm not afraid of the picky craftsmanship side of things, at all. There's still a lot on the internet to absorb though. One of my latest knowledge conquests, is to realize that a Japanese style "pull" backsaw will probably do a better job at cutting my frames, for someone who isn't going to lay out hundreds of dollars on power tools. People can actually do this stuff by hand, without special equipment or even guides. I've watched videos of woodworkers practicing making accurate cuts, by hand.

For the amount of work I plan to do on my canvases, I'm thinking it's worth trying to ensure their survival for centuries. Maybe I'll get hit by a bus and this is an egotistical concern, that will be of no ultimate import. But I don't plan to die randomly, so I might as well proceed as though my stuff will be around a long time. There's a grandfather clock in my Mom's house that is a few hundred years old. I think about that when I wind it.

Has anyone taken the long term survival of their own work rather seriously, and arrived at particular framing / preparation practices, or particular things to avoid? I find myself reading museum conservation websites, like the Canadian Conservation Institute. I'm not Canadian, I just found that resource searching through old posts. It seems that conservators have quite a number of elaborate concerns, such as when they take a canvas off its original frame and put it into some fancy spring loaded system. Maybe it would be wise for an artist to design a frame like that to begin with?

One thing I'm contemplating, is that "glue X Y Z" together might always be a bad idea. Seems like bad things happen to glue over time.
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Old 07-30-2017, 01:08 AM
bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

Hmm, guess people aren't reading this subform much, or the issue doesn't turn people on. Meanwhile I've learned a lot of stuff. I'm starting to question why anyone interested in archiving, would paint on a canvas at all. They seem rather prone to damage due to changing environment. I'm starting to look into the durability of aluminum panels, and what acrylic paint will or won't do. I've learned from past posts that acrylic paint doesn't necessarily bond with acrylic panels, for instance.
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:04 AM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

This is one of the least visited forums on WC, as you have seen. You may want to re-post this in the Oil painting Technical forum.

Though it does seem you have answered your own questions. I prefer ACM panels to any and all painting surfaces for oils, acrylics, mounted watercolors and pastels. If I want a canvas texture for painting I will mount some canvas to the ACM panel then size, prime and paint on that.

Acrylic gesso does a good job creating a stable painting surface as long as you sand the surface first, without cutting through the factory topcoat. You can increase the adhesion by priming it first with something like Sherwin Williams DTM Bonding Primer or XIM UMA ( Urethane Modified Acrylic ) Bonder Primer.

This is the best single page on the topic of prepping "Dibond" aka ACM panels that I have found.

http://www.justpaint.org/painting-on-dibond/
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Old 08-02-2017, 08:24 AM
bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

Thanks! I'm still looking for conservation input on ACM. I found some stuff about hardboard / Masonite:
Quote:
There are many advantages to Masonite hardboard as a painting support, which artists rapidly discovered and first used in the late 1920s. Masonite is homogeneous, having no grain unlike wood panels, yet having the advantage of not swelling or shrinking like a panel (Wehlte 1975). It has a dark brown surface color. Masonite is not as sensitive to climatic changes as wood. It can be purchased in large sheets in sizes up to 4 × 12 ft, with the most common large sheet size being 4 × 8 ft. The large sheets tend to warp and twist, and the corners tend to compress. Artists often have adhered strips of wood or battens for added support to alleviate these problems. Unlike wood, masonite is not attacked by wood-boring insects.

Most Masonite is smooth on one surface and textured on the back, as a result of a screen used in the manufacturing process. This process is called S1S (smooth one side) hardboard. It is a “wet” method; a screen must be inserted on one side of the wet fiber mat, which is then pressed to facilitate the escape of steam and water. The result is an embossed screen pattern on the reverse of the board, indicative of this production method. In the early 1930s, U.S. Gypsum Company (Celotex Corp.) applied for a patent at its Greenville, Alabama, plant to produce S2S (smooth two sides) hardboard. This hardboard was produced by pressing the wet fiber mat between two smooth plates (platens) in a hot press. A patent infringement suit resulted, with the Masonite company and William H. Mason finally being awarded the patent in 1938. A license agreement with U.S. Gypsum and Masonite allowed U.S. Gypsum to become the first company to produce S2S hardboard (Suchsland and Woodson 1990).

Experienced artists have complained that one limitation of masonite hardboard is that the primings fail to adhere to the smooth side of the board. This failure is probably due to the manufacturing process, as paraffin oil from the hot presses remains as a surface residue. Cleaning the surface of the board with solvent should correct this problem. Some artists make the mistake of sanding and roughening the surface to provide a tooth for the priming. Unless the sanding is done uniformly, the exposed wood fiber of the surface will swell unevenly as the wet priming is applied, resulting in an irregular textured surface as opposed to a smooth surface.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:27 PM
bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

I have found the "Materials Information & Technical Resources for Artists" (MITRA) forum. It is intended to fulfil the same role as the now defunct "Artist Materials Information Education Network" (AMIEN). I'm reading posts in the category "Rigid Supports" and will probably be at it for awhile.

Sample of things discovered: anodized aluminum seems to be an 'experimental' painting support. Conservators don't seem to know very much about how it will behave over the long haul:

Quote:
Moderator Answer​ - These are all very good questions...in the sense that they are unanswerable from the point of view of a conservator simply because not enough time has transpired for us to say one way or the other. This is why we tend to lean towards the more "conservative" suggestion of adhering a canvas down first JUST in case there are issues later on down the road. But there very well may not be any problems...in either case do consider recording whatever you choose to do on the back of your panels.

"We only really feel confident about prepared and backed canvas" is not exactly the answer I was hoping to hear.

Although, I don't quite understand "what is being said" here, as their Resources document on Rigid Supports says

Quote:
Aluminum panels, Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) panels, aluminum honeycomb panels, and Dibond panels have been widely used by artists since the late 1940s.

So surely from a conservation standpoint they know "something" about this stuff by now. Maybe they feel they "don't know enough". Like they have 70 years of data, but not 150 years.

Their resource document contains a lot of advice on how to prepare ACM.

Last edited by bvanevery : 08-02-2017 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 08-02-2017, 06:10 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

It doesn't take a conservationist to figure out that aluminum is more durable as far as decomposition and damage from mold, UV, heat and moisture goes. It will without question out last:
  • Canvas
  • Wood
  • Fiberboard
  • Paper
  • Silk
Take a piece of each and lay it outdoors in the sun and the rain for a year and see what happens.



Copper is probably better or at least equal to the aluminum but the cost and weight are substantially higher.



The poly-carbonate core and the polyester priming on it are in my view the weakest parts of an ACM panel. But the poly-carbonate would outlast every material in that list in an outdoor torture test. Theoretically if the core were to deteriorate the aluminum sheet could be moved to another support.


The biggest unknown for this sandwich of poly-carbonate, aluminum, polyester primer and whatever you put on there next is probably the primer. I know from experience that this primer is very tough. I have some scrap pieces of ACM that have been outdoors for 3 years and they are in very good condition. There is some oxidation but not enough to dissuade me from using them. Until something comes along that is proven to be better, I am sticking with ACM panels when i want the best support I can afford.
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Old 08-02-2017, 06:28 PM
bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by contumacious
It doesn't take a conservationist to figure out that aluminum is more durable as far as decomposition and damage from mold, UV, heat and moisture goes. [...] Take a piece of each and lay it outdoors in the sun and the rain for a year and see what happens.

You quite sure about heat, or cold? I mean pathological conditions, like your painting got left in a hot freight truck in the South, because someone over the next 200 years transported it inappropriately and climate control wasn't maintained. Or it went up north in the winter and was subjected to -20*F because the museum wasn't open yet or whatever. Or it sat in the hold of a jumbo jet on a hot tarmac for many hours. Or some idiot put it in the non-heated part of the cargo hold, contrary to instructions, and it gets subjected to serious cold at 30,000 feet.

Or let's say you don't end up with museum curational fame, but your work survives as a family heirloom. Someone leaves it in a hot summer attic or an unheated winter basement for awhile.

Well, maybe all sorts of other stuff would get damaged destroyed in those conditions, but I wouldn't assume it for either straight aluminum or Aluminum Composite Material unless I'd seen some data. It's especially the polymer composite that I'd be worried about here. Why should it outlast anything in particular? Why can't it melt? Why can't it shatter in the cold, especially as it gets very old?

I work on an old beater of a car, a 1984 Chevy Citation II. It has all sorts of little plasticky pipes and doo-dads inside the engine area, mostly for emissions stuff. If I work on that stuff in cold weather, I'm gonna break something. Pretty trivial to do so, just takes 1 slight slip of the hand. So I don't do it unless I absolutely have to. Old plastics shatter easily in my experience. Yeah maybe it's just those old plastics, and they have of course been subjected to engine heat stress all their lives, but hopefully you're understanding my concern about the 'composite' materials.

Last edited by bvanevery : 08-02-2017 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 08-05-2017, 12:14 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

The polycarbonate is in the core, though, not the exterior of the panel. Worst that could happen is the core would degenerate for some reason, but you would still have the aluminum panel in that case. It would just not be supported by the core. Polycarbonate is the plastic used in greenhouse glazing and cold food storage by restaurants, so it is fairly tough.

Me I have been painting on wood panels. Not especially because of longevity. The way they make them now with a thin veneer is not the most sturdy design, because the corners are a site of possible chipping and then the veneer beginning to separate from the wood or panel backing. This happened to me on a couple of wood panels that had apparently been stored in damp and handled roughly before I ever got them. I looked at aluminum then, and I was very attracted to it because of its lightness and that it won't warp and all that, but it was expensive compared to panels and I read conflicting stuff about its longevity. I should paint on hardboard instead of wood because I think it is safer than wood, but I have all these wood panels, so I am going to use them. I have noticed a huge quality difference between different brands of hardboard.

For canvas conservation, I have read that polyester is the best. It will never rot or mold or anything. It won't sag due to humidity but the stretchers will be affected by it, so they recommend aluminum stretchers, which are not cheap.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:39 PM
bvanevery bvanevery is offline
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Re: serious conservation framing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harold Roth
Worst that could happen is the core would degenerate for some reason, but you would still have the aluminum panel in that case.

That's fine if you are famous enough to have museum curators working on your panels for dozens of hours to preserve your artifacts of historical value. It is not fine if you've merely passed on a family heirloom. In practice your work will be destroyed.

Quote:
Me I have been painting on wood panels. Not especially because of longevity. The way they make them now with a thin veneer is not the most sturdy design, because the corners are a site of possible chipping and then the veneer beginning to separate from the wood or panel backing. This happened to me on a couple of wood panels that had apparently been stored in damp and handled roughly before I ever got them.

Do you mean S2S hardboard, aka "tempered Masonite", or something else?

Quote:
I should paint on hardboard instead of wood because I think it is safer than wood, but I have all these wood panels, so I am going to use them.

Guess not then. I'm running that equation differently nowadays. My next project, I'm planning to put 50..100 hours worth of work into. I haven't painted seriously in 2 years, but that last one, was 40 hours on a cheap prefab canvas. I want to work larger, and I think I probably need to do more in a painting, than I did in that one. Although there may be some magic time in my life when I find a way to paint faster and get good results, that time is not now. So I want to preserve my time investment, as close to forever as I can. It upsets me, to think I could do that much work, only to have dumb predictable things destroy it quite predictably. It's easier to accept the unpredictable, i.e. the house that it was in burned down.

I'm not currently planning to sell my work. So I don't see the archival issue as someone else's problem. It's my problem. I'm not going to get cash, which theoretically makes me not have to care anymore. Even for a working artist, having one's body of work be gradually destroyed over time, doesn't strike me as the best course. What if Picasso's Three Musicians simply disintegrated? It would be very sad.

I guess it all depends on why one is painting. I see painting less as "action expression in the moment" and more as "funerary ritual". We're going to die. The painting is a record of what we experienced. Our conversation with future generations, about what Life was to us. Perhaps having King Tut's treasures come touring to my city, when I was a kid, has affected how I see these things. :-)

With my existing handful of prefab canvases, I could do small, ephemeral paintings I don't expect to last. But presently, I don't see why I should waste even a few hours on that. I see that time as better spent on dealing with the "permanency" problem. Although if I do come up with some "minor technical experiment" I want an answer to, that would be a good way to use up the existing stock. Or I could give them away to someone who's just learning how to paint.

Quote:
For canvas conservation, I have read that polyester is the best. It will never rot or mold or anything. It won't sag due to humidity but the stretchers will be affected by it, so they recommend aluminum stretchers, which are not cheap.

Hmm. Polyester cloth is a learning curve I haven't gone up. I've learned a lot about melting down aluminum cans. The basic trick is forced air, which can be provided lots of ways. Lots of home DIY people are doing it. Casting the stuff is another matter. I haven't gone up much of a learning curve there, but sand molds should be enough to make some aluminum bars.

Only having to make a stretcher out of aluminum, rather than a painting surface, would skip the serious labor step of anodizing the aluminum. I did find a guy who says you can anodize using common pool chemicals, that dangerous acids like sulfuric acid are not required. Still, anodizing a large aluminum panel, seems a bit involved. Haven't finished that learning curve and am not sure the DIY crowd is doing that sort of thing. Not to mention casting a large panel in the 1st place. Or cold working it; that's another learning curve. So much to learn.

Last edited by bvanevery : 08-05-2017 at 01:55 PM.
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