How I Mount My Paintings

"Home Past the Lark", one of my 8x10" watermedia-on-silk paintings, displayed on a shelf.
People have been asking, "what does it mean when you say something is mounted on cradled hardboard?" Click the image to see a brief description of how I mount and protect my work without a frame or glass.

People have been asking, “what does it mean when you say something is mounted on cradled hardboard?” Here’s a picture of two cradled boards ready for work and one piece already mounted. Work can be hung as is, no need for frame or glass. This helps me keep my work more affordable, and it’s a nice clean, contemporary look that suits my work.

The boards are Ampersand gessobord. I like the 1 1/2″ and 2″ depths, but any depth could be used.

Two Ampersand 2" Deep Cradled Gessobord ready for work to be mounted, and one board with a piece already mounted.

Two Ampersand 2″ Deep Cradled Gessobord ready for work to be mounted, and one board with a piece already mounted.

One caution: a friend used Ampersand Aquabord (a.k.a. Claybord), and had some problems with the clay coating coming away from the board after the piece was mounted. I suggest you use only the gessobord, hardboard or plywood as a substrate.

Before mounting, I give the work 2-3 coats of thinned acrylic medium as an isolation coat, then I wet the work on the back until it’s saturated, and glue it down with acrylic medium (Golden matte medium or soft gel medium thinned with water).

It’s important not to disturb the front surface by rubbing it, because even with the isolation coats, it’s fragile when wet. I lay a piece of freezer paper, shiny-side down, over the piece before smoothing out any air bubbles with the side of my hand. Many people have asked about using a brayer instead. I’ve not had good luck with that, but I’m not sure why. Maybe it will work for you.

It is very important to get all the air bubbles out, because your chances of fixing one later are almost nil. And, so far as I know, there is no non-destructive way to remove the work from the board and re-mount it with this method. (If you want to be able to do that, you’d need to find a reversible gluing method. I’m happy with this, so I haven’t looked.))

Here, the piece is glued, but not yet trimmed.  I leave it face down on freezer paper with weights on it for 24-48 hours before trimming the edges with an exacto knife and varnishing.

Here, the piece is glued, but not yet trimmed. I leave it face down on freezer paper with weights on it for 24-48 hours before trimming the edges with an exacto knife and varnishing.

Here, the work has been glued to the board with acrylic medium, flipped over and weighted down for 24 hours while the medium dries. After this, the edges will be trimmed flush with the board and the work will receive 2-3 isolation coats of acrylic medium and 2-3 coats of Golden’s UVLS archival UV-protective varnish, satin-finish.

I usually leave the sides natural, but you could stain them before varnishing.

When it’s done, it can be hung on the wall or placed on a bookcase or desk for a free-standing spot of color.

"Home Past the Lark", one of my 8x10" watermedia-on-silk paintings, displayed on a shelf.

“Home Past the Lark”, one of my 8×10″ watermedia-on-silk paintings, displayed on a shelf.

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