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Q. What is Claybord and what are the advantages of using it? What medium is it best suited for? Is it archival?
A. Claybord, manufactured specifically for use by artists, is a registered trademark of Ampersand Art Supply (www.ampersandart.com; 800/822-1939). Its characterized as a hardboard material prepared for compatibility with a variety of media. Hardboard is composed of ground wood fibers that are heat and pressure treated to form panels. They also contain a very small quantity of drying oil to harden (temper) the product. Many artists prepare painting panels like the ones Ampersand Art Supply produces from generic lumberyard hardboard. However, the hardboard market and the fabrication process have evolved dramatically. Today, lumberyard hardboard comes with little information as to the materials used and manufacturing process.
Claybord has the distinct advantage of being produced using well-researched and well-documented specifications. The product is made predominantly of aspen wood, processed to remove undesirable qualities found in ground wood panels. Its finished internally and externally to stabilize and maintain the panels long-term integrity.
Claybord is one of several finishes for hardboard offered by Ampersand Art Supply. Its recommended for use with ink, watercolor, acrylic, encaustic, egg tempera and airbrush media. If you paint in oils, you can use Gessobord, a product made for oil paints.
Claybord is as archival as an engineered wood product can be. Many of the negative aspects of wood are mitigated in the manufacturing and finishing process. By selecting a uniform wood species, tempering with oil and applying external coatings to isolate the substrate from the ground and subsequent paint layer, the product provides substantial protection against moisture, support-induced discoloration, warping and delamination of art materials applied to it. Most importantly, a solid support provides the best solution for the long-term integrity of the work.