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Old 01-06-10, 07:15 PM
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jim jim is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: atlanta, georgia
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Default experiments on and with clayboard

a couple of months ago, i picked up a piece of ampersand clayboard i have been given maybe a couple of years before, and started a new tempera painting on it. i had never worked on this material before, but i kind of enjoyed the way the paint handled on it, which is admittedly quite differently from the way tempera paint acts on conventional gesso.

my almost invariable habit is to paint on panels and surfaces that i have prepared myself, and so working on a pre-prepared panel was quite unusual for me. but since i liked the way the paint took to the surface, i read the label on the panel to find out how they made it. the description i read was that the ground was made of traditional rabbit skin glue and kaolin clay.

now, by chance, some five to six years ago, i bought five pounds of kaolin clay to fabricate hand-made pastels, and didn't really like the way the clay worked as pastels. consequently i had used only an ounce or two of the full five pounds, so i thought, why don't i make some clayboard the same way i normally make gessoed panels. and proceeded to do it.

because i'm not a real fast painter, i have only started two tempera paintings on these homemade clayboard panels, but i am actually enjoying working on these surfaces, and i have been wondering, during this time, whether any of my friends on the egg tempera forum have ever considered making their own clayboard, and if so, what their experience has been making and using this tempera painting support.

so i guess this is a invitation for anybody with experience in this line to give me some feedback about how things have been with them.

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Old 02-06-10, 04:05 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Texas
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From what I've read about kaolin (aluminum silicate,) its smaller particle size compared to calcium carbonates makes it more porous and probably why it's chosen for the clayboard. It also has a tendency to clump up and pack more tightly. Acids that may be present or alum can cause a chemical reaction with calcium but not kaolin, so it makes a useful filler, and is often found in gilding. I've never tried it for gesso.
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Old 03-06-10, 02:50 PM
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PhilS PhilS is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Sargentville, Maine
Posts: 222

You might want to read this thread before going much further...
I did a painting on Clayboard years ago and sold it. As far as I know, it has held up OK. Haven't heard anything to the contrary.
I keep hoping someone comes up with a cheap, available, archival substrate for egg tempera. I have about a 2-year supply of untempered hardboard. When that's gone I'm not sure what I'll do.
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Old 03-06-10, 03:50 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 417

The use of kaolin clay is very interesting. I've used powdered marble sometimes, and gypsum, and chalk, but I've never tried that. Clay has such a fine texture, I'm curious to hear how it compares. Please keep us informed.
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Old 07-06-10, 01:49 AM
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jeff jeff is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia
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I made up some to use but didn't like them much because my way of working is very hard on the surface and the clay tends to absorb water and become too mobile. So I abandoned them. I'm sure that is not going to be a universal experience though.

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