Making Your Own Linen Panels
By Howard Friedland OPA
Commercially made linen or cotton canvas panels are available, and they are very nice. However, making them yourself will save you money and they really don’t take very long to make.
Here are the materials that you will need with step by step instructions (and photos) on how to mount linen or cotton canvas to board.
There are various surfaces to mount linen or cotton canvas to, depending on how light you want them to be. For general use I like Gator Board. Gator Board is similar to Foamcore, however the outer substrate of Gator Board is a harder material and will not bend, Foamcore will bend so it should never be used to mount canvas. Gator Board comes in various widths and in white, natural (tan) or black. If you are traveling and want a thinner panel you can use 1/8th inch Birch plywood, Masonite or Hardwood boards. Another extremely light and thin option is Media Board sometimes called Non Buckle board. It is very thin and you can stack numerous paintings if you are going on an extended painting trip. When you get these panels back to the studio you can then support the Media board with a heavier backing or Foamcore when it’s time to frame the painting.
I recommend that you start making small sizes at first 6x8 to 16x20 until you get the technique and drying time down, then you can better handle larger panels 18x24 and larger.
Materials you will need:
For Masonite, Hard Board or Birch Plywood try your local lumber yard.
IMPORTANT! (be careful that the iron is not too hot or you can scorch your painting). Get a gallon of it from SourceTek. They will only ship when the outside temperature is safely above freezing. If they have a problem sending it, you can try your local art supply stores and see if they can get it.
- For an 8x10 inch panel cut it to 9x11 inches.
- For small canvases an additional 1/2 inch all the way around is fine.
- For larger sizes I recommend 1 inch all the way around. After the canvas is glued down and dried, this makes a nice, clean edge once the excess is trimmed off. However, if you have pre-cut boards to the exact size and don’t have any excess trim, it is not a problem.
Using the pencil lines for a guide, cut out a piece of Gator Board with the utility knife and metal straight edge. Make several passes of the blade until it cuts all the way through. If you are cutting Masonite or plywood, you may need a table saw to cut the material.
Note: If you cut the canvas from a roll, you might have to tape down the corners so it doesn’t curl up when you apply the glue.
IMPORTANT: You want a thin, even coat of glue rolled out from edge to edge.
Using the foam roller, roll out the glue evenly over the entire surface of the Gator Board. You won’t need to pour out as much glue because the board is not as absorbent as the canvas. (Make sure that there are no puddles or dry areas on the surface).
IMPORTANT: You want a thin, even coat of glue from edge to edge.
Line up all the edges as best you can, so when mounted, the weave of the canvas is not crooked. Press lightly over the Gator Board with your hands so that both glued surfaces make good contact.
Then, turn the panel over to the canvas side (removing the tape from the corners of the canvas).
Gently pressing down with your hand again, (this time on the canvas side) starting at the center and moving toward the outer edges, smooth out any air bubbles that might still be between the canvas and board.
You can stack several of them under the weights. If you are mounting a variety of sizes at a time, put the larger ones on the bottom of the stack.
Good Luck with your project!