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How Well Do Grounds Adhere to ACM Panels?

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With so many surfaces available to artists today it could be hard to know exactly where to begin. The starting point should always start with a decision. The decision of what ground or surface will work best with the medium you are painting with. Knowing the basic differences in sizes, grounds and supports is paramount to your success. This is something that we had to learn as well. So the following are some of our tests and practices that have helped us vet and create new Artefex products. This way your focus will be on what panel to choose and not if the quality of the panel will be adequate.

We not only have to create surfaces that you, the artist, want to work on; but we also have to make sure that we create a long lasting support that wont change with time, de-laminate or worse. For our primed panels, such as the Lead Oil Primed Panels and the VAE primed panels, one of the most important tests is the Adhesion Test. Understanding how strong the bond between the support and the ground, is one of the most if not the most important question that must be answered about a support.

We use the most common adhesion test, ASTM Standard D3359 Cross Hatch Adhesion Test. Its a simple and effective test that can determine how well the ground adheres to the tested surface. Below are results for a variety of surfaces, but it is important to note that Artefex panels are only made out of one material, ACM. We originally wanted to use multiple surfaces, such as SINTRA, wood stretcher bars and others; but as we began production, our goals narrowed. We wanted to make great surfaces that above all else would promote the longevity of the art work. We didn’t set out to make a variety of supports, we set out to make the longest lasting supports that we can make. Because of this we decided to only focus on the Aluminum Composite Material. It was a proven surface that has been used for decades by restoration artists and conservators. There was no need for us to waste our time on anything else that might be cheaper to produce. The goal was to make a surface you feel confidant applying your masterpiece on.

The test:

  • Every test begins with two perpendicular cuts made on the tested surface using a Cutting tool to create a grid, we will call this the test grid. (Graphic 1).
  • A piece of 25mm wide semitransparent pressure sensitive tape is applied to the test grid, and thoroughly smoothed into place by a finger.
  • After 30-90 seconds the tape is removed from the test grid at a 180 degree angle.
  • The test grid is then inspected  and compared to the Classification of Adhesion Test Results (Graphic 2)
  • The images below are the test grids for the tested supports.

Traditional Gesso Ground Thick Application

The first test is an ACM Panel with a thick application of Traditional Gesso Ground, from Natural Pigments. The result was a 15-35% area removed on test 1 and 15-35% removed on test 2.

Conclusion: The adhesion wasn’t great, and could pose problems down the road if applied on the panel thick.

Traditional Gesso Ground Thin Application

We tested the Rublev Traditional Gesso ground on an ACM panel with a thin application. The result for test 1 was 5-15% area removed and 0-5% area removed on test 2.

Conclusion: The thin application of the traditional gesso ground shows better adhesion to the panel then the thicker application.

Artefex Eggshell Lead Alkyd Oil Ground

We tested the Rublev Lead Alkyd Oil Ground, on an Artefex ACM panel with the eggshell finish. The result was a 0% area removed in test 1 and 0% area removed in test 2.

Conclusion: The Lead Alkyd Oil Ground creates a very strong bond between the panel and the ground.

Artefex Smooth Lead Alkyd Oil Ground

We tested the Rublev Lead Alkyd Oil Ground, on an Artefex ACM panel  with the smooth finish. The result for test 1 was a 0% area removed and 0% area removed for test 2.

Conclusion: Both the smooth and the Eggshell lead alkyd oil ground finishes perform very well. Our manufacturing process is very different between these two panels. Which means the ground has very good adherence to ACM panels in any application.

Casein Ground

We tested an ACM panel with a Casein ground. The result was 0% area removed on test 1 and 0% area removed on test 2.

Conclusion: The casein ground adhered very well to ACM panels and could be used as a ground for a variety of mediums.

Rublev Lead Oil Ground

We tested an ACM panel primed with Rublev Lead Oil Ground. The result was 15-35% area removed in test 1 and 35-65% area removed in test 2.

Conclusion: The Lead Oil Ground was not able to adhere well to the ACM surface.

VAE Primer

We tested an ACM panel primed with Rublev VAE Primer. The result for test 1 was 5-15% area removed, and for test 2 was 5-15% area removed.

Conclusion: VAE has decent adhesion to ACM panels.  The VAE ground is very versatile and could be a great alternative for the regular acrylic ground many use today.

The Cross Cut Adhesion test is only one test that we do to ensure we are providing the best possible support to artists; but this is a test that you can easily do at home as well. We highly suggest testing all your supports you decide to put your final work on, even if its not an Artefex Panel.

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