Monday, October 28, 2013

Canvas Panel As Building Bases

Note: I originally posted this article on 3 September 2010 but have since updated it. Given the interest in the post and my brief update below, I've updated the publishing date to make it more current. The post's URL, however, has not changed.

Looking for some more Woodland Scenics trees and materials for making hedgerows and other scenery, we popped down to Colonial Photo & Hobby last weekend. I did pick up a few items that I'll be writing about one of these days.

We then popped across the street to Sam Flax, an art supply stores catering to artists and students. They have a store in Atlanta and here in Orlando. Why do I mention this? First, they are having a MASSIVE sale running until the end of September. I picked up a 12"x8.5" cutting mat for only $2.69 and a 12"x18" mat for only $5.39. Retail on the latter is $15! They have other sizes as well for about 70% off. They also have all brushes at 50% off, but were out of all the Windsor & Newton #7 sizes I needed--rats! They do mail-order, so you might want to check their website's sale sheet.

Canvas Panels--A Cunning Idea!
Lately, I have been hopped on putting all my buildings and small scenery scenes on dedicated bases. I've talked about this on TMP and here, looking at cutting sheets of thin plywood to size. I just need to get a saw and some horses. Sounds easy enough, and we can afford it no problem. I would just have to suck up the usual "abuse" every husband gets from the wife when he brings a new tool into the garage: "Why do you need another tool? Don't you have enough toys?" And on and on. You know, the typical drill.

Then at Sam Flax I came across canvas panels. They come in many sizes, are fairly inexpensive, are just as rigid as thin plywood, and save a lot of time. From the Art Alternative web page: "These canvas panels present an economical and easily portable alternative to stretched canvas–great for students on the go. They are designed for use with all media, and are of archival quality. The 7 oz. canvas is 100% cotton, triple primed with acrylic gesso and securely glued to a 100% recycled, acid-free board. All canvas sides wrap around and are secured in place on the back side. The convenient label provides an area to identify the artist, title, medium, etc."

Of course, I had no idea what sizes I needed for my buildings. Instead of guessing, I bought a 3"x5" panel to experiment and remember the idea. It should take paint, glue, and such with no problem. I'll play around with them and see what I come up with.

Below is the price sheet for the panels listed on the AA website.

Order No. Description
AA7032 3" x 5"
AA7034 4" x 4"
AA7001 4" x 5"
AA7036 4" x 6"
AA7038 5" x 5"
AA7002 5" x 7"
AA7040 6" x 6"
AA7003 6" x 8"
AA7042 6" x 12"
AA7046 7" x 9"
AA7050 8" x 8"
AA7004 8" x 10"
AA7054 8" x 16"
AA7005 9" x 12"
AA7006 10" x 10"
AA7007 10" x 14"
AA7008 10" x 20"
AA7009 11" x 14"
AA7010 12" x 12"
AA7011 12" x 16"
AA7058 12" x 24"
AA7012 14" x 18"
AA7013 15" x 30"
AA7014 16" x 20"
AA7015 18" x 18"
AA7016 18" x 24"
AA7017 20" x 24"
AA7018 20" x 30"
AA7019 22" x 28"
AA7020 24" x 24"
AA7021 24" x 30"
AA7022 24" x 36"

Update: 28 October 2013
A quick update prompted by History PhD's great comment below. After painting a 7"x9" panel with craft paint two days ago, the Art Alternatives canvas panel has not warped one bit. Plus, for the past year or more it has been fully exposed air without any warping. So it looks like these panels should work fine. As I posted in the comments, I don't have any panels larger than 12"x12", so I can't personally vouch for warping on the very large panels. Regardless, I'm not sure how study a huge panel would be since they were designed to  be mounted in frames.

I was hoping to snap a photo of the panel, but I haven't been feeling the greatest. I'll be sure to snap one later this week.


  1. Art board is a great materiel for basing terrain if you don't have the tools to cut MDF. I have several that are years old & show no signs of warping.

  2. Good to know! Looks like that project is a go.

  3. Replies
    1. You know, I forgot I posted this article over three years ago! And then never bothered to update it. Since then, I have purchased several sizes of the panels up to 12"x12". These Art Alternatives panels are archival quality, so are highly resistent to warping from what I was told. I have heard horror stories of cheaper panels from places like Dick Blick warping. Those cheaper versions have cheap cardboard cores.

      Right now, I'm holding a 7"x9" panel in my hands. I opened this a long time ago and had some wood glued to it for a fenced in area, but ripped off the wood to start again. No warping.

      This evening, after reading your comment, I took a bottle of craft paint and slathered it all over the panel. I'll let you know tomorrow how it looks when dry and then keep an eye on it. Let's put it to the test.

      BTW I read that panels larger than 12"x16" panels are more prone to warping, but those are too larger for my use anyway. The 12"x12" panels fit my Old Glory 28mm Western buildings and even my Landmark 15mm church just fine and feel rigid. Most of the panels I bought are smaller.

      BTW since this post is old, I have to moderate comments. So it might take a bit to see new comments posted. Just an FYI for everyone. :-) I might update it's date to put it to the top of the blogm, especially if I add some photos. We'll see.

  4. I'll be eager to hear your results!