Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I thought I would try to save a little money on linen plein air panels this year and build my own. I checked with my local art store and ended up getting a great deal on a 52" x 6yd roll for around $24o.oo. Thats a 50% discount my friend ! He also sells the doubled tempered precut masonite panels so I bought enough of those as well. In the end I got 69 linen panels out of the roll at a cost of about .05 cents per square inch. Most of the investment went toward 11x14's and 9x12's since that's what I use mostly, but to get the most out of the roll I got some 6x6's and 12x16's as well. Actually I got 35-11x14's, 6-12x16's, 15-9x12's, 12-6x6's and 1 18x24 just to see if I could make one that big.

This is the materials needed: A roll of linen or canvas, masonite panels, a sponge trim roller (to roll the glue on), a small roller pan, 2-24 oz cans of acrylic medium (the glue), a piece of 150 grit sandpaper, wax paper, scissors, a linoleum roller, yard stick, a couple of wet rags, 2-2'x2'x3/4" pieces of birch plywood and two carpenter clamps.

This is the process: First I roll out the linen onto a table with the primed side up and tape it down to the table. Then I take the panels and lay them out on the canvas in a fashion that best utilizes the linen with the least amount of waste being sure to leave about 1/2" space between each panel. After I've done all this and marked all my lines, I'll now have the linen about 1/4" to the side larger than the panel. Now I'll just turn the TV on and sit there and cut out each piece by hand with either scissors or a razor knife.

The next steps are critical to making sure you have just the right amount of glue on your panels and linen. I'll pour the acrylic medium (the glue) in a small roller pan and then roll it onto the back side of the linen and then onto the panel. Be sure to sand the panel slightly with the 150 grit sandpaper for tooth. You'll just have to learn how to get the correct amount of glue on everything by trial and error. Too much glue will make your linen wrinkle. Next take your piece of linen and gently lay the wet side onto the wet side of the panel. Take your linoleum roller and gently roll it flat being sure that you see no air bubbles etc. The next step will be to lay down a piece of wax paper larger than the panel onto a piece of the plywood and then continue the process and stacking the panels face down on top of one another being sure to place a piece of wax paper between each one and stacking them nice and straight. After you've stacked all your panels gently place the other piece of plywood on top of the stack and clamp evenly, alternating from one clamp to the other until tight.

Final steps: After waiting about 24 hrs for drying, remove the clamps and your panels and trim the excess linen from them with a razor knife. You are now ready to paint on your homemade panels for about 1/3 the cost of linen panel of equal quality.

Some tips for you:
Be sure to cut your linen straight with the grain.
Be sure to place your linen straight on the panel.
Learn the appropriate amount of glue to put on your panel etc. You'll learn that you've done it correctly if your edges and corners are 100% glued up.
Clamping the glued up panels in the "press" will insure that they don't warp. They will warp if you don't clamp them.

My total cost plus about 10 hrs of work:
$451.30 for 69 panels !
11x14 panels................... $7.70 ea
12x16 panels.................. $9.60 ea
9x12 panels.................... $5.40 ea
6x6 panels...................... $1.80 ea
18x24 panel................... $21.60 ea