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  #1  
Old 28-02-08, 07:33 AM
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Default Birch Plywood for Panels?

I wasn't able to log in for some reason (it not a surprise with my luck at the moment) so I just signed up again.

Hello

I'm very worried having just read here the problems of using birch panels for traditional (Gamblin) gesso. I have just made several for an upcoming show thinking that I was doing the right thing. I did the front with several coats of Gamblin and the backs with several coats of acrylic gesso (as I've done previously with MDF). I'm actually finding myself on a verge of loosing it because I was already worried about time limitations as it was, and now if I have to start the whole mess over again...

Is there any way of knowing if it's all going to crack to pieces before painting the whole thing? Can you tell from doing a couple initial washes? Can I at least use these panels for oils? ACK!

I so appreciate any help.

Bonni
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Old 28-02-08, 02:40 PM
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Bonni,
I can't speak from personal experience with birch plywood, but I do remember a thread a while back on the subject of plywood panels "offgassing" chemicals which interfere with the adhesion of ET. I'm not sure if this is just conjecture or if someone actually had problems... Personally, I wouldn't risk it.
It's becoming a problem. I have about 1 or 2 year's supply of untempered masonite left in my shop. When that's gone I don't know what I'll do. Supposedly the manufacturers are going to continue making untempered, but it will have to be bought in bulk (very expensive). Perhaps I will be able to find a group of artists willing to go in on a bulk purchase with me. Or, I will just buy pre-made panels from one of the suppliers listed on this website.
If you're under a deadline pressure, ordering pre-made panels would be my suggestion. More expensive, but possibly cheaper in the long run, if you know what I mean.
Sorry about your problems!
Phil
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Old 28-02-08, 07:48 PM
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Hi Phil, thanks for your reply. I'm pretty heartbroken about all this. Would you know if I could at least use these boards for oil?

Given another time, I probably wouldn't feel so deflated. Previously, I used MDF and actually haven't been able to get a straight answer to whether or not it's tempered, but I don't seem to have problems with them, at least with the couple pieces that I still have.

Now I'm questioning EVERYTHING. I really love to work in ET (with a shellac isolating layer and oil glazes) and people seem to respond well to them. I really don't want to go back to acrylic. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to buy pre-made, but right now the cost + the brokerage fees etc. would be super high, plus added to the cost of having to send them back to the States...
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Old 28-02-08, 11:04 PM
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There is no inherent problem with plywood. I among others use it exclusively. Checking (hairline cracks) can occur if the gesso coating is too thin and the plywood was insufficiently sized. These happen when the wood fibers swell from the application of wet gesso. Checking occurs as the fibers dry and resume their original state. These, like most gesso defects tend to occur early. I have never heard of chemical outgassing that would interfere with tempera adhesion. Obviously adhesives are the only possible source these chemicals. MDF and hardboard have a far greater proportion of adhesive than plywood.

Iíve only observed checking on one of my plywood panels (my first) Now I make sure my plywood is well sized with glue and the gesso is at least 1.5mm thick. I aim for 2.5mm or greater. All my subsequent panels have remained perfect and the paint firmly attached.
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Old 29-02-08, 01:00 AM
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Thank you so much for your reply too DLH! Is there any way to check for "checking"? Perhaps applying a few loose washes and see what happens? The boards I've recently made look really nice now, but who knows later.

I think what freaked me out was seeing this older post, plus, it's the first time I've used plywood rather than MDF. It's a stupid time to try something new I suppose.

Again, thank you both for being so helpful.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-08, 04:34 AM
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Breid, All the defects Iíve observed in panels have happened as the gesso dries, usually within a day. If your panels are dry and they look good they should stay that way. Application of paint is not going to cause new problems.
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  #7  
Old 01-03-08, 12:22 PM
Loughran
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Lightbulb Possible board for ET

Please don't fret. I think it's possible to use Canadian Poplar.
I have some purchased a few years ago from a lumber yard.
It was the classic board for Flemish painters. I am an oil
and acrylic painter and I am now just venturing into egg tempera.
I am almost positive that this wood can work for me. It is
very smooth, sandable and strong . I have pieces that are about
1" thick and about 12" x 14", also one that is 2' x 3'.
The knowledge I've read claims that it does not warp.
I've used it for oil paintings and it was wonderful.
Might take a bit of searching, but should be available in your area.
Mine has a tiny seal "Canada" on one edge.
I hope this helps.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Breid View Post
Hi Phil, thanks for your reply. I'm pretty heartbroken about all this. Would you know if I could at least use these boards for oil?

Given another time, I probably wouldn't feel so deflated. Previously, I used MDF and actually haven't been able to get a straight answer to whether or not it's tempered, but I don't seem to have problems with them, at least with the couple pieces that I still have.

Now I'm questioning EVERYTHING. I really love to work in ET (with a shellac isolating layer and oil glazes) and people seem to respond well to them. I really don't want to go back to acrylic. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to buy pre-made, but right now the cost + the brokerage fees etc. would be super high, plus added to the cost of having to send them back to the States...
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Old 01-03-08, 03:04 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loughran View Post
...Canadian Poplar. ... It was the classic board for Flemish painters...
Well, not exactly. All species of poplar are not created equal, and there are different Italian ones, like Lombardy, which is what I'd guess they used. The Canadian balsam poplar does have a near neutral pH and low overall shrinkage, so it's a good choice.
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  #9  
Old 01-03-08, 08:21 PM
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Thanks for all this great advice!

As for Canada Poplar, I live in Canada, so one would hope that I could find it! That's good to know.

I've recently been told that some of the best supports are MDO and marine plywood. Both are made to withstand the elements.
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  #10  
Old 01-03-08, 10:11 PM
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In your original you mentioned MDF........I have used it for nearly 20 years now without any problems.........from what I can gather there are no tempered or untempered forms in MDF yet....tempered forms in hardboard (masonite) are processed with an oil additive.
If you can get hold of MDF readily and cheaply then that is a good support.
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