24 November 2010

1. How to make a canvas for an oil painting

and save money.  With smaller canvases, it's not so evident.  But large shop-bought ones can cost £70 for a 6 footer let's say - if you're lucky.
You can make one for £10 - £20, depending on your chosen materials.

So, firstly.  
Let me introduce you to my new friend, my mitre rotary saw, reduced from £150 to £85.  It's got a laser light for visible line cutting, but I've discovered you have to cut aside the guide light

I bought him to make frames, in a drive to save money.  It's all very well painting your pictures, but pro-framing costs eat into your empty pockets.

So I thought I'd jolly well make my own, with a little outlay and practice, & I've cracked the process.
3 frames later, and the saw has paid for itself, so long as I don't miscalculate my measurements and make too many bad cuts! 

So.  More about how to make a painting frame later.

Now to making canvases today ..... 

If you have a mitre saw, always wear your goggles, the wood flies off worryingly at the end of the saw motion, and needless to say, keep your fingers clear of the power cutting zone.
That part doesn't bear thinking about, does it.

Otherwise, without the mitre equipment, cut your wood lengths, I use pine, at a straight, block-edged 90-deg angle, with a saw, compensating 2 sides, as necessary, with shorter cuts.

1. Keep your wood balanced and straight when working, I use my painting easel which I can manipulate up and down for the work

2. Measure your length of wood accurately, always using millimetres, and cut 4 canvas edges to their correct size

 3. Using wood glue, in the first instance, (soft) fix your canvas square, or stretchers - & rest for one hour or overnight ideally. 
It's not hardy enough like this yet, one gentle tap and the stretchers will fall apart. 

So handle your frame carefully.

4. For that firm fix, secure the 4 corners with a countersunk (slender) screw

5. Then tack an edged beading, matching your frame size, to your square

The beading is essential to prevent your painting pressing against the wood, getting ugly unwanted markings on your art.
As you can see inside here, your canvas will be raised proud away from the wooden stretchers, for you to work the paints comfortably onto your canvas material alone

6. Applying the canvas.  Mine's unprimed.  (Some artists wet and stretch the canvas beforehand, but I don't find it necessary).
Start at the centre of a stretcher edge, and staple gun the canvas midpoint on the reverse.
Work at the opposite side and pull the canvas tight with gentle artist pliers (I use yellow wallpaper pliers), moving round the canvas, working at opposites to get that important tight stretch.  

You will see I've left the corners till last

7. For that final clean, tight pull, create your "nurses corners" as best you can.  
Bear in mind, too clumsy and fat, and you'll have difficulty framing your painting neatly at the end.

8. How to make rabbit skin glue here.
Gently warm your rabbit skin glue block to a painting liquid state

Try not to pass out, it's a rather grim natural material to work with

9. and double prime your stretched canvas, leaving it to set overnight

Your hard work has been rewarded, and your canvas is now ready to be painted.

22 November 2010

I've been published on the BBC Messageboard

I was reading Dan's excellent blog post regarding Christmas baking last night, and my eyes drifted over to the right hand side of the page,

where I spotted my blog name in lights, along with Azelia and Kavey

It doesn't take much to stir my positivity in general, but I felt distinctly perky to see this.

Thank you, the BBC food messageboard.

21 November 2010

Dan Lepard's crisp cracker treats

  My they're good!
Served with Wensleydale & my apple, blackcurrant and balsamic savoury jam

We're always buying crackers in our house.  Either ryvitas, or those Italian Doriano packets.
So when I saw Dan's Guardian recipe for the salted oat crackers, it jumped out at me as something to make immediately.

To be honest, I wasn't true to his method here, as I rolled out the cracker pastry to 2mm thick - where they ought be potato crisp thin, and fragile.
Not that I'm worried, my results were fabulous.

I used half and half milk & water for the liquid.

the raw pastry, rolled & cut
ready for the oven

cooled on a rack - the sun came out in my kitchen