Sticking down watercolours

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WelshFramer
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Sticking down watercolours

Post by WelshFramer » Sat 10 May, 2008 2:30 pm

I do quite a lot of framing of watercolours for a particular artist who - well I could call them wavy but sometimes they're more like the surface of the North Sea in a Force 11 gale. She uses lots of water on parts of the painting and won't condition the paper beforehand.

I used to spend time flattening them but nowadays I don't bother - I just stick them down to ArtCare Restore.

This artist is always asking me to reduce the cost of framing so these days I stick her stuff down to ArtCare Restore, cut a window mount and stick both into a glazed frame with no backing board.

I then use white lick-and-stick to finish off the back.

It's quick, neat and cheap.

So far I've had no problems with the artwork buckling or going wavy - which used to be the problem - but I've only been using ArtCare Restore for a couple of months so it's early days.

I'd be interested to hear comments on this as a framing technique for original art.
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Post by prospero » Sat 10 May, 2008 3:08 pm

Well, the first thought that comes to mind is, if the artist is not bothered about the presentation of her work, then why should you give a stuff?
This is typical of a lot of amateur artists, who pay no regard to the 'craft' side of painting. They bring along their wavy watercolours expecting you to frame it so it is perfectly flat. A good framer should be able to frame a flat watercolour so it stays flat. Flattening a wavy one is not really the framers job, IMHO. :wink:
Pre-stretching watercolour paper is not a huge expense. A heavy board and 4 pieces of gumstrip. (+water) :P
Surely one way to reduce framing costs is to make the job easier for the framer, not present you with something you have to fight with.

Rant over... :o
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Post by Spit » Sat 10 May, 2008 3:24 pm

What I do with my own stuff is to dampen a sheet of watercolour paper, put the art work on top face up, another sheet of dry paper on that then a heavy board ot top of the lot to weigh it down. Leave twenty minutes, remove damp sheet and replace with a dry sheet, weigh the lot down again overnight.

I wouldn't do it to anyone elses though.
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Post by Steve Goodall » Sat 10 May, 2008 7:48 pm

If you have a heated vacuum press you can "steam iron" the watercolour paper - but I'm sure you know all about that...

Fast & it works too...

Then simply hinge to your mount etc etc...
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Post by tightmitre » Sat 10 May, 2008 7:56 pm

Another pet hate. "Artists" that paint right to the edge of the paper. Had a lady in about a month ago with an art deco style painting- woman standing hand on hip with a greyhound on a lead in the other. The woman's elbow was about 2mm from one edge and the dog's nose the same from the other edge.

Tried to educate her about positioning the subject to leave a little room for the mount to sit on. She collected the picture the following week with another little reminder.

Lo and behold she came in yesterday with the same picture repainted for a friend who had admired the first one. Lo and behold, the same mistake.

Not going to have much hair left at this rate.
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Post by Moglet » Sat 10 May, 2008 11:12 pm

Steve Goodall wrote:If you have a heated vacuum press you can "steam iron" the watercolour paper - but I'm sure you know all about that...
Not me, Steve. I'd like to hear more, if you had a mind to enlighten me further. :)
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Post by WelshFramer » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:13 am

The problem with steam ironing and other flattening methods is that they don't always stay flat. I had a number that having gone wavy again after a few weeks.

This artist also paints right up to the edge (probably something about not wanting to waste paper). The advantage of bonding down to ArtCare Restore is that I only need to overlap the window mount by about 1 mm - it's the ArtCare Restore that holds the art down, not the window mount.

But I guess the main advantage of using it is speed. One minute in the press during which time the CMC has cut the window mount. Then I just have to make the frame and cut the glass. If only I could get her to standardise on sizes I could make the frames in batches -- but then, if I did manage that, she'd probably standardise on a standard Ikea frame size.
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Post by Steve Goodall » Sun 11 May, 2008 3:14 pm

Hi Áine - Only too happy to oblige...

For this procedure you will need a "combination" heat & vacuum press. Heat or vacuum on their own will not achieve the results required.

The Problem - It can be very difficult to "beautifully" frame water colour paintings that are delivered to the framer in a "wavy" condition. The application of a bevelled mount over the work only serves to magnify this problem - as the straight edge of the bevel makes the "waviness" look even worse.

The Cause - water colour paper "cockles" when it has water applied to it (paint). That is to say the paper "swells" where paint is applied & stays "stable" where it remains dry.

One Remedy - You can get the painting "flat" by bonding it to a board of some description - with an adhesive of some description. I do this myself at times - after showing people an example of the finished result & discussing the implications of bonding an "original". Many people just want their art to look great - so as long as they are "informed" - everyone is happy.

Another Remedy - Assuming the customer feels that bonding their art to a board is a "no -no" (it could be 200 years old & worth a fortune) - then there is another way of making the job look "much better" that at the same time is "non - invasive" to the art. Remember - “better” is a key word here – never expect the result to be “perfect” – we all strive for perfection – but our idea of “better” may well be seen as “perfect” in the eyes of the viewer – if so – take a bow!!!

The “Science” – By introducing moisture to the whole painting in a “uniform manner” by means of steam & then pressing the painting under heat until it has dried the cockling will be “ironed out” & the whole painting will have “uniform tension”. One point to remember is that if the painting subsequently ends up in very damp or humid conditions it could still swell up – but it should do it in a uniform way.

The Ingredients...
Water colour painting
Bowl of water (tap water if the artist used it in the paint - distilled (from the chemists - if you are unsure)
Sponge - a clean & dry
Mountboard - white with no writing on the back – about 1” to 5” bigger than the painting
Clear silicone release film - not silicone paper
Heated vacuum press
Timer - a watch or the timer on the machine

The Recipe...

Step 1 - Make sure your press is clean inside & remove any foam blankets / carrier boards / release papers / felt breather blankets etc. Switch the press on & set it to 90 degrees to 100 degrees centigrade (around 195 degrees farenheit).

Step 2 – Whilst the press is heating up, soak your sponge in the water & gently rub the “flooded” sponge over the white side of your mountboard. Water will initially lay on the surface, but will soon begin to soak into the surface. The mountboard needs to become “damp” – without getting to the stage of “soaking wet” – practice to see how much water is required on your type of board.

Step 3 – When your press has reached it’s set temperature, place the dampened mountboard on the rubber bed of your press. Then gently place the painting on top of the board (image side up). Then cover the board & painting with clear silicone release film. Special note – do not use silicone paper as this will absorb moisture at the next stage & could cause problems. Clear silicone film is made from plastic & so will be unaffected by moisture.

Step 4 – Close the lid of your press & fasten the catches so that no air can get in or out of the machine. Do not apply vacuum at this stage – just heat!!! Now make a cup of tea… During the next ten to fifteen minutes the heat of the machine will cause the damp board to give off the water as “steam”. This steam has nowhere to go inside the sealed press. The painting will pick up this steam – a little like leaving damp & dry clothes together in a basket.

Step 5 – After you’ve had your cuppa it is time to switch on the vacuum & then go & make some toast… During the next ten to fifteen minutes the press will initially suck out the steam from the machine & press the damp water colour against the board. Then with the continued action of the heat & pressure all the moisture will be removed from the system – leaving you with a dry painting & board.

Step 6 – Remove the board & painting combination from the press & place it on a cool flat surface & weight it with something smooth & heavy – Glass is great or a heavy (clean) cutting mat. When the job has cooled the painting will peel off the card & be lovely & flat.

Where you go from here is up to you – I would suggest hinging to a mount & advising the customer of the perils of placing their work in damp or humid conditions.

As with all jobs that you have not tried before - practical application or testing of the technique is advised. The first time I did this I used one of my Mother in law’s “masterpieces” – needless to say I have have regular commissions from all the other “old dears” in her art group – “Deep Joy”!!!

I hope this is of help – “it works for Me”…
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Post by The Jolly Good Framer #1 » Sun 11 May, 2008 4:07 pm

I was taught how to prepare a bit of paper ready to paint on to when I was at school. I would have thought any artist worth his/her salt would know how to do that. Its very basic stuff even if the painting is going to be very wet.

3 step guide as follows:-

1 Wet paper both sides with a wide brush with clean water
2 Lay paper on wooden board and stick round all 4 sides with 1” gummed paper tape.
3 Leave to dry and when dry start painting.
4 when painting is dry cut off board with a knife.

Even when the painting is very wet it will still dry flat.
(Nobody expects a step 4 (bring out the comfy cushions! :shock: ))

This method is not just an option it is essential.

Or tell your customer to use very heavy paper as it’s cheaper in the long run than you sticking it down.

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Post by Moglet » Sun 11 May, 2008 4:36 pm

Hi Steve,

Thankyou very much for your excellent tutorial: very clear and easy to understand! In particular, I really appreciated your explanation of the 'why behind the how' of the techniques employed. :)

I always feel disappointed handing a framed piece of "bumpy" art to the customer. This method is something I would really like to master. Presumably, it would be OK if one created (I use the term loosely) some - ahem - 'watercolour abstracts' with which to practice the techniques described?

Also, is there any similar treatment for wavy acrylics?

Steve, I'd like to compliment me on your delivery style: it's entertaining as well as highly informative, with the former very much reinforcing the latter! I'm sure that your students must enjoy your courses a great deal! (I have got to get myself on a Hotpress course...)

Thanks again, Steve! :D
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osgood

Post by osgood » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:27 pm

If you don't have a hot vacuum press, bumpy art can be flattened by damping the back of the paper slightly, then placing it on a couple of sheets of matboard with about fifteen or more matboard sheets on top.
After a few hours remove the sheets directly under and on top of the art, then repeat every 24 hours. After about four or five days the paper is flat and can be framed.

Thin paper that needs this treatment is usually used by amateurs down here, so I have no hesitation doing this.

Stretching art paper is a great idea, but that doesn't eliminate bumpiness completely. Some of my artist customers do that, but then they leave that acidic brown gummed paper on the edges!

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Post by Moglet » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:44 pm

:oops: :oops: :oops:

Nominating myself for "Howler of the Week"...

Moglet wrote:Steve, I'd like to compliment me on your delivery style...
Bugger! :oops: :oops: :oops:
........Áine JGF SGF FTB
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Post by Roboframer » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:52 pm

I saw that straightaway - and I think you got it right - Steve's learned well!

But has some way to go to match the Mogster.

osgood

Post by osgood » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:53 pm

Áine,
Nothing wrong with claiming credit for someone else's stuff! :wink: :wink:

I wasn't going to mention it, because it's so easy to type the wrong words sometimes! I did have a small chuckle though! :D :D

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Post by Moglet » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:58 pm

At least I'm able to laugh at meself! (Move over, Rodney Trotter!)

:oops: :oops: :oops:
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Post by kaptain.kopter » Sun 11 May, 2008 10:02 pm

As Steve's Luke Skywalker to his Yoda, I've used his technique very successfully with bumpy watercolours.

As an experiment, I painted a subject myself on unconditioned paper and applied the process as he explained. It worked a treat but I was still a bit jittery when trying it out in anger the first time.

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Post by foxyframer » Mon 12 May, 2008 8:53 am

Surely any watercolour artist worth its salt should follow the basic rule of wetting the paper and gum-stripping onto a block board before the artwork. Dead lazy or lack of knowledge.

Leaving the problem to the framer to sort out is arse backwards.

I find any slightly cockled watercolours left under a hot press, between two sheets of silicon paper and left until next morning always works. Not too hot though, hand bearable, and turn off to go cold.

Any gouache or mixed media - don't do it. May alter the matt nature of the medium.

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Post by WelshFramer » Wed 14 May, 2008 9:19 am

Steve, what would happen if I left the foam in the press when steaming?

I'm using an old Ademco vacuum press and the foam blanket is stuck to the lid of the machine and the rubber blanket is covered with felt. Presumably it would still work OK - I just have to dry everything off for a bit longer?
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