How to make cradled panels, how to make a triptych.

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how to make cradled panels

Cradled Panels, those used in making a triptych, aren't that hard to make on your own.   Below is a description that goes into a little more detail than shown in my film. 

The tools you need, (some are shown in the video, but not all), are listed below.  They are links to my favorite art supplier.

Now these are homemade panels.  So there are some slight variations to each panel that give it that unique hand made mystic.   

Using 1" by 3" lumber cut to length and then mitered corner, and glued to form the base cradle.  You can use the frame clamp I discussed within the film, or the mitre clamps shown at the bottom of the page.  Both work well. 

Always check for squareness.  Use a measurement corner to corner.  Then measure the opposite corner to corner.  If they are equal in length, then your cradle frame is square!

Masonite board was then cut to fit each cradle, (I get the fellows at the lumber store to precut these on their big saw). If you preplan well, they can cut several at one time saving you money.

These were then glued and set using weight and clamps on the boards to make sure we get a tight bond to the cradle.  

Edges were then sanded. 

This actually completes the process of making your own cradled panels.

Next, you will prepare the masonite for painting using a sealer (kilz latex) then gesso (an acrylic, water based product).   I then discuss how you use these cradled panels to make your triptych.  (Mostly within the film)

Process to prep panel after it has been made:

This first example shows were I have applied the gesso using my curved cake knife.  It didn't work out to well, so, a different method of preping these panels is going to be necessary.  Because the wooden panel has no flex, the knife can't lay down a smooth layer, but the miniature paint roller does a great job.


You can see the results below.

Here's how it looks before I begin sanding in between coats.  You may need to do this up to three times to get a really nice smooth surface.  The smoother the nap on the roller, the better your results.

1st coating is shown in the photo below.  There are many small indentations from the nap of the roller still visible.  The 2nd coating got rid of all these after sanding.

A smooth finished masonite panel ready for paint!

After the painting was completed, it has been shown at a local art show.  The curator of the show had difficulty getting all three panels aligned, and keeping them aligned, so I've decided to connect the three together.

The reason I've done this is to :

1. make sure the painting is hung in it's best way, with the image aligned across all three panels.

2. makes it easier to hang, only 2 level screws in the wall.

3. Will be easier to ship as a single piece by being combined into one solid work rather than 3 items bouncing around in the shipping box.

Using ferring strips of my liking 1/4" thick, which I have painted black after measuring, cutting and sanding.  

Then laying on a bit of wood glue to both sides of my furring strips, then clamping the painting together, getting all my alignment set, I drilled pilot holes for wood screws.  

Getting these panels to align exactly the way I wanted took me a very long time.  A small adjustment here would make something else a little off.  So I just took my time.  

Once everything was clamped the way I wanted, the panels were screwed together.

After 48 hours, I removed these clamps and now have a solid congruent piece of artwork.

I've also just varnished the work, and it has a nice even sheen and all my darks have been brought up.  

If I do a Triptych in the future, I think I'll stick with prefabricated cradled panels and/or stretched canvas's.

This was just a bit more work than I wanted to fool with, but you may want to try it, cause it is alot cheaper than purchasing prefabed cradled panels.

Here are your links to the tools you will need:  (Just click on the image to go to the DickBlick art supply store.)

Click here to back to the top of our Cradled Panels, and how to make a triptych page.

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