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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Art Materials (Hardboard)

Hardboard, commonly referred to as masonite, more and more is being used as a substrate for painting, drawing, and other media. Primed with clay, paper, gesso, etcetera - ready for  oil, acrylic, egg tempera, watercolor, encaustic, ink, collage, and much more.

Unlike many masonite products found at your local hardware store, artist hardboard, is often made to be more stable, less toxic, and less harmful to you, as-well-as the environment. Lumber products are often treated with chemicals for many purposes; however, certain types of chemicals are better off avoided in art making if not other constructive ventures. Hardboard, designed for artistic uses have advantages over other alternatives; so as long as certain steps are taken in it's use, as well as precautions in the choice of what brand or type.

Formaldehyde, that evil chemical that always crops up in art material safety has made it's way on to the manufacturer's label to help ease the worried minded purchaser. However, most art material manufacturers are going to avoid this chemical as much as possible; mainly because they know the artist is aware of it. It also never hurts to check. In the case of Jack Richeson's Premium Artist's Hardboard, they went to the trouble to ease those worries by printing it on the label.

Archival products are important to many artists, galleries, museums, and collectors alike- therefore you will find labels on materials informing you of the products being such.

Along with archival labeling, Ampersand informs you of their commitment to the environment (not shown), stating their panels are made from sustainable forest products, ensuring the protection of wildlife, plants, soil, and water. A plus for those environmentally conscience artists, like here at ParksArtworks©.

ASTM label, or rather the label concerning art materials- ASTM D4236. ASTM is the international organization for testing materials and the ASTM D4236 label is the standard practice for labeling art materials. Seeing labels like these on a product simply means they are conforming to ASTM standards to provide a product that is safe. You will find it on products from finger paint to, well... the topic at hand. However, a note of caution, the studies and information is usually designed around the typical use for a product. In the case of encaustic, material is heated, and heating things up to such high temperatures have their own risks not always included in such studies because they expect you to use it for what it was designed or intended to be used for.

Hardboard at the hardware store also comes with a collection of labeling. Manufacturers do this for all sorts of reasons- be it their own personal business reasons or required by law. You can find out more from those specific manufacturers or the place you happen to be visiting.

Hardboard benefits over dimensional lumber, plywood, canvas, or whatnot can be many- but nothing is perfect- with each comes their own benefits. Hardboard is lighter than plywood, canvas can flex, dimensional lumber is aesthetically pleasing- it may just simply come down to preference. Aside from the cost on occasion, hardboard beats many on convenience- particularly those primed for your specific need.

thank you for reading
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