Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gesso Board Warping

How is it that just recently I noticed warping in my gesso boards? It seems that all my RealGesso boards are warped, to some extent right out of the wrapping. The Natural Pigments boards exhibit little to none.

This board is the furthest out of whack, perhaps because it received a few fully covered layers?

The Natural Pigment boards have some gesso on the backside, and I suspect they are also sized. The RealGesso boards have no gesso on the back. They might be sized; I'm not sure.

I've read in many places that warping is common without back coatings, especially as board size increases. Sometimes bracing is used. I have rabbit skin glue and gesso mix so I could probably try working these boards up myself. I have contacted the manufacturer for guidance. More on this later...


  1. Uh-oh... how discouraging!
    Although a bit hazy on where I originally picked up the advice, I have always painted a large thick X of gesso (from corner to corner) on the back of any board or panel on which I would be gesso-ing the front to prevent warping. Even when working in my journals, if I am putting a lot of paint on one side of the paper, I put equal amounts on the other side to prevent warping/curling. So far, so good. As I do not work much larger than 11x14, I am not sure if this would hold true for anything over that; I am inclined to agree that perhaps some type of bracing might then be required.
    Still so much to learn for all of us, eh?
    ~ gretchen

  2. Yes indeed, so much to learn. I have to laugh. Night after night I've had my nose in those boards and never noticed! Last night I glance over at one of my many piles of papers and books and there's this bent up panel on top!

    More posts on all this to come as I hear from the supplier and pull together some quoting from my various authorities.

    Indeed, there's always another layer to peel! :-)

  3. Over the years RealGesso's quality has gone done. The last batch I bought had a ton of pinholes and some even had hairline cracks. On any panels over 8x10 I usually add poplar bracing strips to the back to make sure warping does not happen. TrueGesso panels are better quality and have a nicer more absorbent ground you might want to look at those too.

  4. Thank you, Alex. I'll give a try next time I buy.