Mounting Paper onto Canvas and Other Supports

by | Jan 25, 2011 | Blog | 75 comments

Often artists will create a drawing or sketch on paper, and then want to adhere it later to a stretched canvas to create a stronger support, and even to continue working on it – adding subsequent layers of paint.

Here are some suggestions for a way to glue paper smoothly onto canvas and other surfaces, without wrinkles.

Gluing small to medium sizes of paper

When the sheets of paper are manageable sizes you can glue the paper directly onto a painting surface such as canvas or wood panel. Make sure to read through these instructions first, to have all your supplies prepared and close at hand when you are ready to begin the process. It is important to do all the steps quickly without any lag time in between, as that can cause issues.

Start with Your Surface – such as canvas or wood panel. Use a canvas that is stretched and primed with gesso so it isn’t too absorbent. If using raw canvas or raw wood, it is recommended to seal the support first. Seal front face of the canvas with an acrylic gloss medium, or prime with gesso. Wood panels need to be sealed with an acrylic gloss medium on all exposed wood areas – back, front and sides. If the support is not sealed, and is too absorbent, there is a risk that the glue will sink into the surface too fast, before you get a chance to apply the paper. This is the main reason paper gets wrinkled – the areas where the glue is no longer wet when the paper is applied.

The Paper you want to adhere onto the surface should be a bit larger then the canvas you want to glue it to. Ideally the paper should have at least 1/2″ excess on all sides, so that this can be trimmed off later.

Select Your Adhesive – this can be just about any acrylic product – with the exception of acrylic mediums. The actual acrylic component in the product is the glue. For example, an acrylic gloss gel is all acrylic – nothing else added – and therefore will have the most glueing strength. Whereas, an acrylic paint color is made of two components – acrylic and pigment – and won’t be as strong a glue as the gel. You can also use acrylic gesso, but again this product has white pigment in it along with the acrylic component, and will work – but the gel trumps all. I do not recommend using acrylic mediums, as these are thinner then gels, and tend to dry quickly. When your glue dries quickly you risk wrinkles and areas that aren’t glued properly. Whichever acrylic product you choose don’t dilute it with with water when using it for glueing purposes.

Apply Adhesive
Apply your acrylic gel or other acrylic product (I repeat – not mediums) onto your support. I like to apply the gel with a knife, and the gesso with a brush. While the acrylic is still wet, place the paper over it. If the paper you are glueing has a drawing on it, apply a piece of tissue or clean sheet of paper over it, so you can smooth it out without smearing the drawing. Use your hands to smooth the paper onto the wet acrylic starting from the center and moving outwards towards the edges. The paper will stretch as it gets wet from the acrylic, and will move over the edges, so you end up losing about 1/2″ of the drawing along the borders. When it is all smooth, let it dry at least a day.

Trim the Paper
Once glued and dry, you can easily trim the excess paper by running a single edge blade along the outside edges. This technique gives a very clean edge so you can’t tell the paper has been glued.

More Tips
Place boards, books or something rigid under the canvas to give it support, so when you rub the paper to smooth it out it won’t sink down in the center with the canvas. The most important thing is to make sure the acrylic is still wet everywhere when you put the paper over it. If the acrylic dries in areas you will get wrinkles there. When you are working with a large size, or in a dry hot climate, you can first apply a gloss medium or gel to the primed canvas. Let this dry. Now the surface is less absorbent, so when you apply the acrylic to glue it won’t dry as fast.

Gluing very large sheets of paper

To glue large sheets of paper to a support, you would want to use either plywood, or the stiffer foamkore sheets. If you want to glue it onto canvas, then use canvas that is not stretched on stretcher bars, so you can lay it flat on the floor or table.

To glue use a spray adhesive (wear protective gear) and another two pairs of hands so that one person holds one end, another holds the middle, and you would start to apply it at one end, smoothing it out before lowering the middle, then lowering the other end. It’s tricky but can be done.

Cool alternative idea

If you like working large and on paper, but not enjoying the finishing process – here’s a very cool idea. Start with a rigid surface, like a piece of plywood or other wood surface, instead of paper. Then change the surface to create a quality that simulates paper. I like to apply a product by Golden called Absorbent Ground. Apply one to four coats of this product onto your surface, letting each coat dry for at least a day, before applying the next. The more coats you apply, the more absorbency you will create. Four coats ends up looking and feeling exactly like a beautiful sheet of Reeves BFK paper. This product is actually made of pieces of paper fiber in an acrylic base, so in effect you really are changing the wood surface to a paper surface. By the way, applying more than four coats is a waste because the absorbency maxes out at four coats. When the coats are dry you can paint on it, or work on it in whatever way you like. Then for finishing and hanging purposes, you can treat this just like a painting – frame it or not – and add hanging hardware on the back.

Framing or hanging paper works

First, let me say that framing paper is always tricky, and best left up to the experts – a framer. Paper is mostly framed without glueing it down. Usually paper is attached very loosely to a board like foamcore with some hinged fabric tape in a couple of places to hold it in place, but only in one direction – for example a few places along the top. Paper moves along with the climate – moisture and temperature – and when attached to a backing in a loose way like this – the paper can move without causing issues.
Usually choosing to work on paper means you are willing to let the finished product be about the paper – loose. If hanging in a show, you can attach it as above, with hinged fabric tape directly on the gallery wall. Then you can place a piece of plexi over it that screws into the wall, without pressing the paper flat. In other words, the paper is allowed to hang freely – wrinkles, flipped edges and all.

Framing a large size, like a 6 foot sheet of paper, is a monumental job. I have framed some extra large paper works for myself over the years, but rarely do it anymore as it is so difficult. You would use the hinge tape mentioned above, used by watercolorists for their framing along the top only, to allow it to hang freely and shift like paper does.

-END-
 
 

75 Comments

  1. Crissie

    Thank you for this helpful information. I have an idea of making a floor cloth with a painters drop cloth and scrapbook paper. I want to know if it is possible to glue the scrapbook pages to the drop cloth, seal and walk on it. I have done this with stretched canvas and scrapbook pages for wall art and it worked well.

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Crissie,
      I don’t see why not! I would use a commercial grade sealer (instead of a fine art product) especially for sealing floors.
      Nancy

  2. Asha

    Hi Nancy,
    Thank you for all of this information. I have a pencil drawing that I’d like to mount to a stretched canvas. I’m worried about damaging the pencil drawing when I lay the paper down on the adhesive. I have clear gesso, heavy gloss, and regular gesso. I’m not sure which one is best to use? The canvas is small 14×14”. When applying the adhesive, do you cover the area completely, or just around the edges? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Asha,

      Sounds like a cool project! I recommend using a clear gloss gel instead of the gesso. You may want to flip it upside down while drying. In other words, I suggest you lay down some plastic wrap on a flat table with a plastic piece that is larger than your canvas. Next place the drawing face down onto the plastic wrap. The plastic should protect the drawing. Next apply the gel onto the stretched canvas making sure it isn’t applied so thin that it will soak into the canvas before you have a chance to apply the paper drawing to it. Apply it all over that one side of the surface. Do not only apply the glue in select places or your paper will wrinkle. Now flip the canvas face down (and gel side down) onto the back of the paper.

      Next, flip over the whole thing (paper, plastic, canvas) carefully so the plastic is now at the top facing you. Place a piece of paper over the plastic and rub gently with fingertips to smooth out the paper onto the gel. Flip it back onto the table face down again. Place something over the back of the canvas to weight it down. Ideally you should also have something in the center to press down too, but that gets tricky because you don’t want to create an edge where the center weights end. So I suggest not adding anything into the center to weight it.

      I absolutely recommend you try this process with scrap drawing paper (the same paper that your drawing is on) onto an extra gessoed canvas. Ideally you should use exactly the same materials (paper, gel, canvas) to make sure this system will produce the results you want.

      This will not work if there is a delay between any steps. You will want all needed tools and materials right there already prepared.

      Best,

  3. Jane Usher

    Hello Nancy — I have several original unused Fruit Box Labels that I was thinking of mounting on canvas to make placemats. After gessoing the canvas and gluing the paper labels, can I varnish several coats over the entire thing to create stiffness and seal in the paper labels?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Jane,
      Sounds like fun! In this instance, since you are working on unstretched canvas, I suggest using a Gloss Gel as a glue instead of Gesso. Gels make better glues anyway, and will be easier to apply. After you glue, wait at least a day or more for it to dry, you can apply something over the top face and back of the canvas placemats to make them stiffer. I suggest using a gloss medium for your first coat, then a matte medium as your final coat. Matte mediums will keep the placemats from sticking or getting sticky, especially if they get warm in temperature. Even better, instead of a fine art product for your final coat, use a commercial polyurethane to make it easier to clean.
      Hope this helps!

  4. Robert

    Hello, Nancy. Thanks for being so willing to share your considerable knowledge with all of us! I have a needlepoint that is attached with Velcro to a piece of ¼” foamboard. The foamboard is sized slightly smaller than the needlepoint and doesn’t show from behind. I would like to attach the foamboard/needlepoint to a stretched artist canvas (Blick Studio Cotton Canvas) that is 2” larger than the needlepoint all around. I envision that the canvas will “frame” the mounted needlepoint and the foamboard between the two will add a bit of dimension to the whole. What is the best medium to permanently stick the foamboard to the surface of the canvas? I suspect your answer will be acrylic gel such as Golden’s Regular Gel, but I would appreciate your confirmation of that or a better suggestion. Do I need to apply it to both the canvas and the foamboard, or will applying it to the canvas alone be sufficient? Also, what is the best way for me to apply it? Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Robert,
      Sounds like a great project! I am a big fan of adding depth (like the floating idea you mentioned) to framing and display. Ideally I would say that instead of mounting onto a stretched canvas it would be better to mount it on a rigid surface like a panel that is wrapped in canvas. However, what you are thinking about can be done. You would use the gel as you are thinking. You do not need to apply it to both canvas and foamboard, however it is important to make sure the gel is still wet when you put the two items together. The gel, if not applied thickly enough, may sink into either surfaces because they are both absorbent. If the item you are gluing is not too big and you can get the gel on one surface, then stick them together fairly quickly, you will be fine. If the item is large and you can’t work quickly, you can always seal one of the surfaces (the foamboard) on the back (side that will be glued) first. Let that dry, then apply the glue onto that sealed surface. Now the glue will take longer to dry so you have more time to work with it. I like to apply the gel with a spatula – the kind you find in Home Depot as a plastic plaster spatula. They are fairly inexpensive. You can also use a painting knife with a stepped handle (so you don’t drag your hand through the gel while applying it). Hope this helps!
      Nancy

  5. Kathleen Bottecher

    i have an oil painting and want to glue decorative wrapping paper in parts of the painting. Since painting is oil, can I get wrapping paper to stick in large spots without wrinkling? What adhesive would work atop the oil painted canvas?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      If you want to glue paper over oil, you would need to use a glue that will stick to oil. No water-based glue will stick properly to the oil paint. You can try a spray adhesive. This may be your best and only choice. If you use any type of liquid glue that is solvent-based it will stick to the oil, but then will probably wrinkle the paper. Spray adhesives usually don’t wrinkle the paper because they don’t saturate the paper enough to do that. The only other option would be to seal your oil paint with a proper solvent based sealer that contains acrylic – like Golden’s Archival Varnish Gloss spray, or their MSA varnish. This type of varnish can stick to oil as well as acrylic because of the combination ingredients of solvents and acrylic. Once this dries (need to wait 2 weeks) you can then apply a hard acrylic with extra adhesion strength, like Golden’s GAC 200. Once that dries you can now apply any acrylic glue over that. As you can see this is a bit labor intensive. I’d go with my first suggestion using the spray adhesive as that is the easiest. After the paper is glued, I recommend waiting a few days for the glue to fully cure, and then coating over the paper with a gloss acrylic medium (just the paper, not over the oil paint). Then find a varnish that has UV protection, and is compatible with oil paint, and apply the varnish over the whole painting to keep the paper colors from fading. Hope this helps!

  6. Cynthia Yates

    I would like to place watercolour paper on a stretched canvas. It is cold press paper. What would work best?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      You can follow the directions in this article to adhere watercolour paper onto stretched canvas. You can use acrylic gesso, or any type of acrylic gel. I do not recommend an acrylic medium. Mediums are thinner then gels, and may dry too quickly to give good results. In other words, if the glue dries before you get a chance to apply the paper, it will wrinkle.

  7. Kathryn

    Hi Nancy,
    I make original one of a kind themed 3D art canvases ( premiere canvases from Blick) that I often cover the entire front of the canvas with original antique/vintage giftwrap paper prior to placing collectibles ephemera etc. I am hoping to get a small gallery showing for my collection. Now my worst most costly irreplaceable nightmare has happened 😢. Despite testing the giftwrap paper on a 3×3 in canvas prior to adhering to my 20×24 canvas, I now have permanent bubbles. I used golden soft gel medium in gloss. I coated the canvas using foam brush, and the back of the giftwrap paper,then I slowly started from one end using my 6 in rubber speedball brayer. I was afraid to oversaturate the paper with the acrylic gel since in my experience older paper will expand and contract. Maybe starting from one end isn’t working in my favor as opposed to the center? I have so much time and $$$invested in this irreplaceable piece. A year collecting items to go with the themed giftwrap( a rare item can not replace). I do not dilute the acrylic gel medium. I had applied a top coat of the soft gel to the front of the giftwrap well over a month ago. Is there anyway to remove the areas with pockets of Bubbles after placement ? Sadly there are creases that are permanent but the biggest concern is the bubbles.

    How can I prevent future mishaps? I researched ,and spoke to golden reps etc numerous times in the past. Below is my new Instagram for ur personal viewing .
    Thanks. 🤞🏼For

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Kathryn,
      We already got in contact about this issue, but for anyone else reading this I’d like to summarize the solutions as follows: Gloss coat the canvas surface, as well as both sides of the paper prior to gluing. Let these dry at least a few days before gluing. To glue properly apply enough glue to the dried glossy canvas surface and apply the now glossy paper to it. Use your brayer in a star burst pattern so any air bubbles are moved out. To fix an air bubble wait until the piece has dried a few days. Slice it with a single edged razor blade. Insert more gel with a knife into the slice. Smooth it out.

  8. MikeJ

    Hi Nancy I want to paste paper on a 6×9 drop cloth to create a large painting on. Can I use regular sheets of paper and gesso or should I use a gel medium? Do I overlap the paper or can put each sheet next to each other seamless? After the paper dries on drop cloth, can I roll the canvas up, will the paper stay intact on the drop cloth? Should I put a base coat of gesso on the paper after I put it on the drop cloth? Thank you if you can help.

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      You can use any acrylic, actually, to adhere paper onto canvas or cloth. I liked using the Gesso when the canvas was stretched already onto stretcher bars. I think acrylic gloss gel would be the best and easiest acrylic product to use for gluing. Gels are usually thicker then mediums and are better for gluing. It can get confusing because some companies label gels as “gel mediums”. Just make sure it is thick like mayonaisse or softened butter. This thickened acrylic will ensure the acrylic stays wet longer, and therefore glues better. If you use a medium (usually pourable like honey or milk) it will wrinkle paper and sink too quickly into the cloth. That is why I don’t recommend it for gluing. Overlapping paper vs placing it side by side is up to you. If overlapping let one sheet dry totally, then reapply gel over the one sheet to allow the overlapping sheet to adhere. You can roll the cloth with glued paper. That is one benefit of using acrylic. If you use a cheap acrylic (like Elmer’s Glue) it may crack when rolled. Using the best quality materials will almost always result in the best results. When rolling up your cloth with the glued paper make sure it has dried flat for at least 2 weeks after gluing prior to rolling. Roll so that the paper is on the outside. This puts less pressure on the paper while rolling.

  9. Jan

    Hi Nancy, We have several murals that were created by students on butcher paper many years ago. Some are big enough that 2 or 3 sheets are taped together with masking tape which is so old many of the pieces are starting to separate. Most hang from a wire line, one needs to be folded to carry to another building. I would like to preserve them but have a limited budget so it might have to occur over time. A local art teacher suggested backing them with canvas using spray adhesive. I am not an artist and after looking at the variety of canvas available at an online art supply store, I’ve realized I am in way over my head..best weight of canvas, primed or unprimed and all the variations, cotton vs linen? spray adhesive or gesso as you recommended above? Should I roll rather than fold? I will be so appreciative of any suggestions you give me. Thanks so much-great and very helpful blog!!!

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Jan, Sounds like a big job you have set out for yourself. I do not recommend backing them with canvas, especially that size using spray adhesive. The spray adhesive is super toxic and will create spray residue all over the space you are spraying in. Using my method here in this article will be costly as professional grade gesso is expensive and working with large sizes to back them is difficult.

      Your murals are probably on non-archival paper so they will eventually crumble, and non-archival paints will eventually fade. Some type of preserving on the backs of the murals will allow the paper more stability. This may be a good idea if you think its worth it. However the paint may flake off from the front if not sealed, and even then a top coat seal won’t keep cheap paint adequately sticking to the paper.

      Since you’re on a limited budget you may want to consider how much this is worth to you. As an alternative consider taking a good photograph of them. Use what money you want to spend on a good photographer. This will give you a good record of the murals. If you take a very high quality high resolution photograph of each, you can create good quality prints in any size (depending on how high the file size is of the photographs) anytime you wish. You can even print out several small copies to hand them out, and can frame one of the prints to hang at the school.

      In the meantime you will need to store them safely. This can be done by carefully removing the old masking tape and separating the sheets. Place all the sheets together in one pile with painted sides facing up. Carefully roll the pile of sheets altogether around a wide diameter cardboard tube. The wider the diameter the better. Try to get at least a 10″ or wider roll. Roll them with the painted sides facing out to reduce paint from crumbling. Please know that these unarchival materials used in the murals may still loosen from the paper and fall off. There’s nothing you can do about that at this point. While in the rolls the paint will not be exposed to light and this will reduce more fading of color.

      If you decide you really want to strengthen them to rehang, then the best way is to hire a professional company to back them. Companies that work with prints and photographs, as well as specialty frame shops, have special machines and archival backing paper that will adhere the paper murals to another support like archival acid-free cardboard. Then you will need to cover the fronts with UV protected plexi. So these are my suggestions. I hope this helps you with your project.

  10. Staige

    Hi Nancy, I am trying to complete a painting where most of the background will be newspaper. I have tried mod podge but it did not work. How can I get nice flat newspaper sheets on a 24×30 gallery wrapped heavy duty canvas? Thank you so much

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Did you try using the method I mention in this article? I suggest using Golden’s Soft Gel Gloss. Apply the gel heavily enough with a knife so that it doesn’t dry before you add the newspaper. Use the method here and smooth out the newspaper with a brayer or with your hand. It should be very flat and smooth when dry.

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    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      What a lovely thing to say! Thank you so very much. I’m glad you are enjoying my contributions on the internet. It’s fun to share but even more fun to hear I can help.

  12. Alejandra

    Hi Nancy, I am making a pendant banner for my sons birthday. The banner is canvas and the letters are chipboard. I’m not quite sure what to use to glue the chipboard letters to the canvas. The measurements of the canvas are 6.5″ l x 4.75″ w x .06″ d. The measurements of the chipboard letters are 4″ l x 3.5″ w x .06″ d. Thank you so much!!

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      I think an acrylic gel will work fine. I recommend Golden’s Regular Gel Gloss to apply the chipboard letters to the canvas. I think a spray adhesive would work too.

  13. Lynn fleschutz

    Hi Nancy — I have a thick poster board sheet that has been covered with acrylic paint. This will be the background for a collage consisting of small 1”x2.5” pieces of archival white drawing paper that have black lines made using a thick sharpie marker. What process/medium would you recommend for affixing the small papers to the background sheet? Thank you

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Lynn,
      Since you are collaging paper onto painted paper, I would use a Soft Gel Gloss. The gel is thicker then a regular medium and will stay wet longer, making your gluing easier. Some of the gel will squeeze out the edges from the smaller shapes. If you apply a final coat with your preferred sheen at the end, then it won’t matter that the gloss gel has squeezed out. If you are not applying a final coat, then you might want to use a matte gel instead of a gloss gel. This way if the gel squeezes out it won’t be noticeable like the gloss will. I do recommend a final coat, though, because it will help protect the paper and the marker.

  14. Lennyyyyy

    Nancy, this is an incredible resource. I have fragment drawings (like a puzzle) that piece together, overlap here and there, but form an image in the end. I draw on the Bristol paper with pencil and charcoal.

    My plan is to mount this so the pieces don’t fall everywhere. Should I use acrylic gloss only or could I use acrylic paint? Also should I stretch canvas first or after? The drawing is maybe 5ft x 3ft, but made of 20 pieces.

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      I would definitely stretch the canvas first before gluing because if you stretch after gluing you may disturb the glued pieces. Actually you could glue your papers onto the unstretched canvas, but then glue it to a wood panel instead of stretching it on stretcher bars. That would work nicely. I recommend gluing the papers directly onto a wood panel and skip the canvas. Wood panels would be a good choice because a rigid surface is easier to glue onto then canvas, which once stretched, needs to be supported underneath to press down firmly while gluing. And since you are working large (5′ x 3′) the panel will be optimal over the canvas choice. Any acrylic product (paint, medium, gesso, paste, gel) will act as glue, which means while wet it will adhere other materials to it. I would use a Regular Gel Gloss or a gel gloss that is a bit thick to add ease to the glue process.

  15. laurene

    I tried to add craft paper to a canvas/panel and the panel warped. What can I do to prevent this in future projects?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Canvas panels are cheaply made. They use cheap canvas and glue it onto cardboard. If you apply anything thickly onto it such as paper and glue it will warp. To prevent this in future projects use wood panels instead. If you must use the canvas/panel, then you can reduce the possibility of warping by sealing the back first, by brush applying an acrylic medium or gel and letting it dry for a few days, before applying any type of paint or glue onto the front.

  16. Leo Liu

    I have a very large reproduction wall map of 1739 Paris printed on heavy stock paper consisting of 25 separate sheets; each sheet is about 15″ x 20″ so that the entire map is about 76″ x 98″. I’d like to mount this on canvas or fabric with top and bottom wood dowels, just like old-fashioned oiled scroll wall maps. I can stretch the fabric onto a large plywood or foamboard backing, but I think the main challenge here is that each map sheet needs to be mounted with edges flush against adjacent sheets. Is this project feasible using any of the methods that you describe in your article and comments?

    P.S. Here are links to the boxed map sheet product, and a former Restoration Hardware item in which the map is mounted on wood, rather than fabric:
    http://authenticmodels.com/collection2/shop/globes-maps/1739-paris-portfolio/
    https://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod690151

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      This sounds like a challenging mounting task. Use a heavy weight canvas. Secure the canvas to keep it from wrinkling and moving while you mount your maps. Slightly stretch the canvas so it is very taut but do not stretch it so the fabric gets pulled. Use a spray mount adhesive that is permanent so it is a strong adhesive and won’t lose its grip after time. Spray each map with the adhesive in an area that is far enough away from your canvas that you won’t be spraying on images already mounted. Immediately after gluing, press each map using weights over a board that completely covers the individual map that is glued. Keep the weights on the glued map for the time required listed on your adhesive container. Each map will take time, so this could require a period of up to a week to complete.
      Nancy

  17. Samantha Martin

    I want to draw on a book page and mount it. Is it beat to draw before mounting or ok to still work with it afterwards? Would you use the thin gel?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      You could do it either way. you can draw first then mount, or mount first then draw. If your drawing materials are delicate it might be best to draw, then spray fix, then mount. But you can also protect the drawing by covering it with release paper (or other protective paper), then mount, then spray. I would not recommend using any “thin” mediums for glueing. The thin mediums (Gels are usually a thickened medium, so not sure what you mean by a thin gel) will dry fast which means they may soak into the paper or the surface you will be mounting it to, before you get to adhere them together. So thin mediums usually create wrinkles and pockets that don’t stick. I recommend using a gel like Golden’s Soft or Regular Gel Gloss to glue paper onto a rigid support. As I mention in my article I use gesso to glue paper onto canvas, but will use a thicker gel to glue paper onto a panel.

  18. Oma

    Thank you soooo much!!! This really helps!

    Reply
  19. Oma

    Hi Nancy

    I have a 5x4in mixed media painting on wallpaper that I would like to adhere to canvas. I have applied gesso to canvas and plan to use acrylic gloss gel. My question is do I have to stretch canvas on bars before adhering painting?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      If you are glueing mixed media onto canvas I am glad you have decided to use gloss gel as a glue. If you stretch the canvas on bars before adhering the painting you may have some difficulty adding weights for pressure in the beginning drying stage of the glued paintings. It can be done, but you would have to add support under the canvas, then add the weights. This system will only work if your painting is much smaller than the canvas. In other words, you will not be able to evenly apply pressure if the painting extends all the way to the edges of the stretcher bars. I think it would be best to glue the painting onto the unstretched canvas, apply pressure for 15 minutes to half an hour, then remove weights and let dry for at least three days (or one week if you are in a humid or cold environment). Make sure during the drying time the temperature of the room does not go below 55 degrees. When you stretch the canvas (with the glued painting) onto stretch bars do not overstretch while pulling. Stretch gently enough for it to be taut but not too much that the glued painting is overstretched.

  20. Kat

    Nancy, I have several large drawings (2′-6′)-using a variety of inks/acrylics altered with oils and soaps on several types and weights of papers. I want to flatten them by mounting to canvas and see that you recommend soft gel gloss, not thinned. I’m assuming this will work but before getting the gel, I’m wondering why you recommend gloss rather than matte? Same for adhering photos to ceramic surfaces?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      That’s quite a large size paper you want to mount. I recommend having someone to assist you holding the paper up while you spread the gel. Regarding your question as to why I prefer gloss over matte, although both will work fine, is this. Acrylic is glue. Acrylic is naturally glossy. Any type of matte acrylic product, such as matte gel, matte medium and matte varnish have matting agent, a fine white powder like talc, added to it to make it matte. Matting agent is not a glue. So any matte acrylic product will still act like a glue and adhere very well, however, by using a gloss gel you have a stronger more purer glue, in my opinion. I will use matte gel as a glue when the paper is thin, or using a thin fabric to glue, because then the gloss gel won’t add a shiny element to the paper or glue.
      Use matte when a gloss product will show through and you don’t want it too.

  21. Lorraine D.

    Hi Nancy,

    This has been most helpful! I am not a professional (or very knowledgeable) artist, but I have come up with an idea as a birthday gift for my sister that I would love to verify the best way to ensure it will last! The previous question by Deidre somewhat addressed my question, but I just need to clarify…

    I typed out & printed a passage of scripture my sister loves onto a slightly yellow, 25% cotton, linen resume stationary. I then cut the paper into the silhouette of a fat little bird. I am painting a background that includes a branch for the bird to be “perched” upon.

    Once my acrylics have dried, how long should I wait before I attempt to adhere the paper to the painted canvas? What would you use* for the adhesive?
    *Please note that I live 2 hours from any significant city, so I can only get supplies at my local big name/bargain/retail store 😉

    I did note your recommendation for the stacks of cardboard and 15 minutes of weights; and spraying afterwards with a clear spray sealer.

    Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge!!
    ~ Rainey

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Lorraine,
      This sounds like a lovely gift! Once your acrylic background painting is dry to the touch (takes an hour here in the dry desert climate of Santa Fe, but may take a day in a humid climate) it is fine to glue your paper to the painting. I would use an acrylic gloss gel for the glue instead of the acrylic gesso I mention in the blog article. My favorite is Golden’s Soft Gel Gloss. Apply it to the back of your paper using a knife. Apply it thinly but don’t dilute the gel with water to thin, instead just use the knife to spread it thin. Then glue as per the article, pressing, etc. You mentioned the difficulty in getting supplies. Can you order online? You don’t want to use a cheap glue here or it won’t last.

  22. Deidre Forbes

    Dear Nancy. I’ve made a few paintings (acrylics on canvas), printed poems on handmade paper, adhered the paper to the finished canvasses with acrylics and painted thinly over the paper to blend in. When I applied varnish to the finished paintings, the paper ‘bubbled’ in some places, but settled again upon drying. I do not paint commercially, but have had a few offers for these paintings from potential buyers. I am, however, hesitant to sell them, as I am afraid the paper will detach wit time and fall off the canvasses, spoiling the entire painting. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Deidre, I am wondering about the glue you are using to adhere the paper to the painted canvas. If you glue the paper correctly, wait at least a few days for it to dry thoroughly, then seal over the glued paper, you should have no problem when applying the varnish. I like to use Golden’s Soft Gel Gloss for my glue. I apply it thinly (not adding water, just applying it thin) and adhere the paper immediately before the glue dries. I have stacks of cardboard underneath the canvas so I can press the paper smoothly, then put weights on top for 15 minutes. Not more than that. Then I remove all the weights and let it dry completely. If you live in a humid or cold climate you may want to wait a week. Then I recommend spraying the paper with a clear spray sealer. I like using Golden’s Archival Varnish Spray Gloss. It sounds like your glueing method isn’t working correctly. Hope this helps.

  23. Joseph Weston

    I am unsure if this is still being watched in order for replies. However, here it goes. I have been looking for a solid method to apply comic strips, layering them like Sandra Chevrier. Is gesso the method which allow the comic paper to stick for years or is glue simply okay?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Joseph, to apply comic strips onto a surface that will last, you want to use a fine art quality archival glue. Acrylic is glue, actually, so any fine art quality acrylic medium or gel will work. Most glues that are water-based are acrylic, but there are many different types of acrylic. Elmers glue is acrylic but is of lesser quality, so it can be sold cheaply, so it will eventually yellow your paper, or flake off. So make sure you use an acrylic glue that is fine art quality and says “archival” on the label. Acrylic Gels are just thicker acrylic mediums and when applied thinly (not diluted with water to thin, but instead just applied thinly) will be the best as these will not wrinkle the comic strip paper. Mediums are thinner and tend to wrinkle paper. Instead of acrylic gesso to glue your paper, I would use an acrylic matte gel such as Golden’s Regular Gel Matte. You can use a gloss gel too, but the matte may be best if it leaks out along the edges it will not create a glossy edge.

  24. Leonard kornstein

    I need the glue will bond 1/4 inch or 1/2 thick thick foam board onto canvas board. Do I need to cover the canvas before bonding. Foam board is not heavy.

    Thank you for giving lots info for bonding.

    Len

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      If you are glueing thick board (instead of paper as I mention in the blog) I would use a thicker acrylic gel medium, such as Golden’s Regular Gel Gloss, instead of Gesso as I suggested in the blog article. Before glueing it is always a good idea to seal both sides using some type of gloss medium (brush apply one coat on each of the surfaces that will bond), letting these dry, and then adding the gel medium on one of the surfaces to glue these two surfaces together.

  25. Frances Taylor

    I have done a piece of artwork on matboard, and now am wondering how to adhere / mount it onto canvas. Any thoughts? I do have glue, but was wondering whether there are alternatives. Thank you

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Frances,
      If you want to adhere the matboard to canvas you will need to use a glue. There are many glues out there, most of which are acrylic. You can choose a more archival glue, meant for fine art work, which may cost more than a cheaper glue like Elmers, but the archival glue should adhere longer with a stronger bond, without yellowing or getting brittle. I would use an acrylic gel, such as Golden’s Regular Gel Gloss. The gels are a thickened acrylic medium, usually thick like peanut butter or honey (depending on the gel strength you choose). The heavier the weight of something you want to glue, the stronger or heavier the gel. So I use Soft Gel Gloss for thin papers, and Heavy Gel Gloss for glueing objects like shells, etc. My question to you is WHY would you want to adhere the matboard to canvas? I would think it would be easier and sturdier to adhere it to a wood panel. Or even taking it to a framer to have them put a nice frame around it. Just some thoughts…..

    • Cora Brown

      I had the same question. Your answer helped a lot. Thanks!

  26. Kim

    Hi Nancy,

    I just did a project with my 4th grader’s class. they made a replica of their house with brown craft envelopes of different paper qualities. some of the envelopes seem coated like scrap book paper, others seem more absorbent like regular craft paper. i will overlap these little flat houses on a canvas (one layer of envelope…i cut the backs off). can you recommend a glue to use? there also may or may not be a layer of acrylic paint between the canvas and envelopes. i think modge over it all? i have never “decoupaged” thanks!

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Kim, Sounds like a terrific class project! Just think of acrylic as glue. All acrylic paint and products (such as mediums, gels and pastes) will adhere the envelopes to your surface whether it is canvas, wall or board. My preference is to use a gloss gel, or any acrylic gel that is thick like a hair gel or thicker. Apply with brush or knife somewhat thinly onto the canvas (don’t dilute to thin, just apply it thinly so it isn’t globby looking and will ooze out). Apply the gel in small areas at a time so the gel stays wet by the time you attach the envelopes to the gel. You can gently press the envelopes into the gel by placing a plastic trash bag, or scrap paper over it, so you don’t get the gel all over your hands. Let it dry flat for a few hours. Once dry, you can leave it uncovered (it may look interesting to have the variety of papers giving a variety of sheens overall) or if you want you can apply the modge or some other acrylic medium over all. Decoupage is merely applying acrylic under and over something like paper, fabric or other objects and materials.
      Nancy

  27. Hannah

    How do i attach yupo paper to canvas?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Hannah,
      I have not tried using the process I describe in this article with yupo paper, however, paper is paper, so this method should still work.

  28. Jeff

    Nancy,

    I want to adhere money to a canvas and paint over top of it. the canvas will have to be rolled afterwords for easy shipping. what would be the best way to adhere the money but still be able to roll the canvas with the dollar bills separating from the canvas?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Think of money as paper, so you are just collaging the paper money to your canvas. Use any acrylic gloss gel and apply thinly (don’t dilute with water, just spread thinly) on either the canvas or dollar bill, then adhere the dollar bill to canvas while the gel is still wet. Let this dry. Before overpainting the dollar bill you will need to seal the ink on the dollar bill. Spray a gloss acrylic product (I like Golden’s Archival Varnish Gloss) over the dollar bill. Let dry. Then you can overpaint. Acrylic is flexible. So at this point your dollar bill is sandwiched between two acrylic products. Therefore while shipping it should adhere very well.

  29. Sally

    Hi Nancy
    I have painted a painting that I want to print out so I can embellish it and sell on at the Christmas market (it’s a kid’s painting). I was thinking of printing it out on canvas and have the canvas stretched but I don’t like the canvas – the Printer guy only does gloss or satin and I prefer matt. Anyways – I thought if I get the Printer to print on paper which is a matt finish, then I can glue the print onto a stretched canvas and embellish that way. I was thinking of glue but do you reckon gesso is the best way to go then – and it wouldn’t seep through the paper? Many thanks for your help

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Sally,
      If you do decide to have it printed on canvas, you can always spray it with a matte spray afterwards since you wanted it matte. However, printing on paper has a different appeal, because the canvas texture is not there. I like paper prints better because of this. So if you print on paper, and yes it will be matte, you can glue the print onto a stretched canvas as you said. You can use any type of glue that is archival and works with paper. I wouldn’t use Elmers because it is not archival so that will yellow the paper and crack off. Any fine art quality acrylic gloss gel will be fine. I like Golden’s Soft Gel Gloss for glueing paper onto canvas or board. You can also use spray adhesives (toxic!) or the gesso as I mentioned in the blog article.
      Nancy

  30. Dave

    Great article! How about mounting a pastel on newspring to canvas?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Dave,
      Newsprint is very thin, so I recommend trying a test using a plain piece of your newsprint, before using your pastel newsprint drawing, to make sure the gesso does not bleed through to the other side. The thinner the glue, the more likely you will have a bleed through. Make sure you do not add any water to the gesso (or add water by accident using a brush that’s been in water) and if it still bleeds, then substitute an acrylic gel instead (also making sure no water is added).
      Nancy

  31. Keren

    Hello,

    Could you please tell me if this technique will work also for a charcoal and graphite drawing on a 200 gr paper?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      Hi Karen,
      I do not know what gr refers to, however, this technique and how you customize it for your needs, depends on the weight of paper and size of canvas you are mounting it to. This technique should work for all weights and sizes, however, I recommend testing a piece of your paper on a test canvas first, before using your drawing, to make sure there are no problems. If the paper is very heavy you may want to substitute an acrylic heavy gel (ie. Golden’s Regular Gel Gloss or Heavy Gel Gloss) instead of the gesso for the glue.
      Nancy

  32. James

    Hi Nancy. Your blog is very helpful. I want to attach acrylic paintings that are on paper, to canvas. The layer of acrylic paint is quite thick on some of the paintings. Any modifications in technique for this situation?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      You might want to experiment to see if using a heavy acrylic gel would hold the weight better than using gesso as the glue. Also you can try flipping the piece over, once you adhere, onto a soft foam, so the textural front face of the painting can sink into the foam, while you have access to the back, to apply weight, like some heavy pieces of wood with books on top for an hour or two to get the glue to set.

  33. Laura

    what about attaching lokta paper to canvas? Whatś the best way to do it?

    Reply
    • Nancy Reyner

      I have not used lokta paper before, but since it is absorbent (handmade paper) you can still use the method here. I would use a matte gel (i.e. Golden’s Heavy Gel Matte). Gels are thicker than mediums, so they stay wet longer, and are therefore better to use on absorbent papers, where a thin medium will soak up into the paper quickly and not adhere to the surface you are gluing it to.

  34. MARCELLUS Guylin

    Hello Nancy,
    And thanks for your blog, it’s very helpful, I have a few drawings on journal paper, is it possible to Mount them with gesso? and what about duration ?is this the same as for a piece directly made on canvas?
    Thanks for your replys.

    Guylin MARCELLUS

    Reply
    • nancyreyner@gmail.com

      Hi Guylin, For journal paper I would use a spray adhesive, such as Aleene’sTacky Spray. Journal paper is thin and absorbent (I am assuming) and would be better with a spray, although you could still use gesso. Good quality paint on canvas will most likely last longer than paper glued on canvas. Duration depends on many factors, most importantly the environment the work of art is stored. If you are interested in the work lasting long, I recommend spraying your drawings on paper with an archival varnish, such as Golden’s Archival Varnish, after you adhere the paper to a sturdier surface, and let it dry sufficiently, according to the adhesive directions.
      Nancy

  35. Nancy Reyner

    For the yellowed brittle paper you described I would use Soft or Regular Gel (gloss). The gel is thicker so it will help glue the textured (or uneven surface) of the paper. There won't be any bleeding through, but I would still test a small piece of the paper and glue it on a test surface. Let it dry a few days to see if the color changes. It's hard to tell on non-archival fragile materials so best to test it first.
    Nancy

    Reply
  36. Rebecca

    How about for a fragile piece of yellowed, brittle paper from an old book? The gesso won't bleed through? Would the gel gloss soak through and change the color of the newsprint-thin paper?

    Reply
  37. Jamal

    I need to mount a huge drawing ( pastel on heavy paper) on canvas. It is 4 feet x 6 feet. Any tips?
    Jamal

    Reply
  38. Margaret Ryall

    I've never tried adhering paper with gesso. I'll have to experiment. I'm enjoying reading your new book Nancy. It's an excellent resource which is driving me in several directions.

    Reply
  39. Janet

    I'm glad I caught your reply in time! Thanks for the advice.

    Reply
  40. Nancy Reyner

    Dear Janet,
    For gluing heavier papers such as photographs, use Soft Gel Gloss, not gesso. The gesso is too thin for that, and if it seeps out it may get on the photograph and look like white-out. Also, for heavier gluing jobs like this, after placing the photo over the wet gel, immediately place some plastic wrap on top, then put the sheet of scrap paper on top. Then rub it smoothly and put some heavy books or other weights on top for 15 minutes or more. The plastic wrap keeps any gel that might seep out from gluing the books or weights onto the piece.
    Nancy

    Reply
  41. janet

    I assume that this will work for applying photos as well? Although my photos will not cover the complete canvas. I have had trouble with wrinkles……so I will try the gel medium application, and then the gesso.
    I place a couple of layers (depending on stretcher depth) of rigid insulation behind the canvas when adding photos or whatever to the painting for a support.

    Reply

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About Nancy

Nancy Reyner paints exotic versions of heaven, using gold leaf and other unusual materials. A contemporary abstract painter, she feels art is a rewarding pursuit that adds quality of life. Nancy shares this passion with her students & offers classes, articles, books & videos, encouraging the courageous use of materials and artistic expression.

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