I love my colour pencils dearly, they are now easily my favorite medium to work with… but they have one glaring failure! No matter how good the work is, generally it is created on flimsy, easy to damage paper. I hate the thought of putting in hours of work, to then have to worry about the chance of creases or tears in my hard work! I also think this fragility really holds colour pencil artworks from being taken very seriously by potential collectors.
Over the past few months I have had many discussions with local art shops and framers about the best method of mounting my colour pencil pieces to board, to give my work stability and a much longer life expectancy!!
If you are interested in trying this out, the following is a run through of my method so far
Note: this method can be used to mount paper BEFORE creating the artwork!! you will just have to be extra careful not to accidentally get any of the gel on the working surface of the paper.
*** WARNING!!!!**** This is a fiddly process and it does have the potential to ruin the artwork you wish to mount!! I HIGHLY, HIGHLY!!! recommend practicing the process a few times on less valuable pieces before attempting to mount something precious!!
- A sturdy archival board – I have been using picture matting board from a local framer, as it is sturdy but still lightweight. However, you could use a much firmer surface like Ampersand clayboard, ( https://amzn.to/2CyuQwb or for Aussies https://amzn.to/2Mac4L5 ) or wooden boards https://amzn.to/2QhqYmj or for Aussies https://amzn.to/2M9TG55 ( please note, amazon associate links are for your visual reference, there are many other brands selling similar products and it’s always worth shopping around!). Whatever you choose should be archival as it would be a terrible shame to damage your piece instead of protecting it! It will help if the board you choose is slightly smaller than the artwork. You will get a better finish if you can trim the artwork to be completely flush to the board
- An Archival binder gel. I use Atelier heavy gel (gloss) (https://amzn.to/2QfdffE or for Aussies https://amzn.to/2wVD1N1)to attach my drawing to the board. It is an acrylic medium that creates an extremely strong bond when dry.
- The artwork you wish to mount
- A brush
- A brayer (optional) https://amzn.to/2wT1OkQ or for Aussieshttps://amzn.to/2QeM1Wss to roll your artwork down onto the board. A brayer will give you a nice smooth, even rolling action to press the artwork down onto the board. This would be very useful with larger artworks
- A sharp blade to trim any excess
- Wax paper
- A flat, heavy weight to press your work down overnight
Step 1. Clean your surfaces!
Ensure that your work surface, hands, brush, brayer, the board, and the artwork are free from dust and debris. The mounting process must be done quite quickly and can be a little nerve racking… Should you find a hair or crumb stuck somewhere it doesn’t belong during the process, you will find it difficult to keep the process flowing. And any particles that get trapped between your artwork and the board will be there forever!!! It is worth taking the time to clean and inspect everything so you don’t run into trouble later
Step 2. Protect your surface
I use a layer of wax paper under my board while I apply the gel. This stops excess gel from getting on my work surface, so I don’t accidentally “glue” my artwork to the table
Step 3. Apply the gel
Using a wide soft brush, apply the gel to the board. Ensure that the gel covers the board completely to the edges and is in a nice even layer. The Heavy gel is an impasto medium and will hold any peaks or clumps when it dries, so take the time to smooth it out so no clumps form under your artwork. When you are happy with your coverage, it is worth taking the time to clean up any excess gel from the side of your board, removing the protective wax paper and cleaning any gel off your hands. Taking the time to clean the excess off will ensure you accidentally get the gel on your work or stick your work to the work surface!
Step 4. Attach the artwork.
Take a deep breath! take a moment to visualise how you will place the artwork on the board and how you want things to line up. Bend your artwork slightly and allow the middle of the piece to make contact to the board first, then lay the piece down LIGHTLY onto the board. getting that middle section down first will prevent any air bubbles from forming underneath your piece. The gel grabs quickly, So only lay your piece down lightly, and quickly make any final adjustments to the position of your work. This is where having your artwork slightly larger than the board is incredibly helpful!!! It is better to have a slight overhang that you can cut off later than to have an exact fit that can be difficult to line up under time pressure!! (like I did in the video!)
Step 5. Smoothing the piece down!
Once you are completely satisfied with the position of your piece on the board. Add another layer of wax paper on top of your artwork. This will protect your piece from accidental smudging. Use the brayer or a flat hand, to smooth the artwork down onto the board, working from the middle out towards the edges and ensuring you get a good bond on the edges. keep smoothing it out until you are satisfied that the piece is completely bonded to the board. Now is a good time to clean up the edges of any excess gel that may have been squeezed out in the smoothing process. and cleaning excess gel off your work surface.
Step 6. Weighting down and drying.
The gel forms a bond very quickly, and the piece should already be firmly attached to the board. But as the gel is wet, the paper and thinner matting boards can bend as the gel dries. So at this point, using wax paper to protect your work, lay some flat, heavy weights down to ensure the artwork remains flat as it dries. Allow to dry overnight.
Step 7. Trimming the excess
When everything is completely dry you may take a very sharp blade and trim off any paper hanging over the side of the board. This will give a nice flush finish to the mounting process. I recommend doing this with the artwork facing down on a smooth clean surface, and using the edge of the board to guide the blade.
And you’re done!!!
Your gorgeous colour pencil work is now firmly supported by a solid surface, and worrying about creases and tears is no longer a major problem! With a nice solid board you can now take this a step further and varnish your piece for another layer of protection and to even out the sheen of the image. ( I will explain how I do this in my next blog!)