We have answered some commonly asked questions below.
Where can I buy Fisher Wells products?
We sell our Traditional Gesso and Seamless Painting panels only through select art materials shops.
You can buy our art tools and pens through these shops, and also on this site.
Currently St Luke Artists Colourmen stock our products. More art materials shops will be selling our panels, art tools and pens soon.
To visit St Luke online https://stlukeart.com
To visit in person St Luke Artist Colourmen, 32 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria 3066
To call through an order 03 9486 9992
I’m an art materials shop – how do I stock your products?
Why don’t you sell your panels direct to customers? Why do we need to go to a store?
We sell our panels through art material stores to save time. That way we can focus on making our panels and pens, and developing artists’ tools.
Let us know if you ever have any trouble getting our products – just pop an email through to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want your local art materials store to stock our panels, pens and tools – ask them to get in touch with our distributor Langridge Artist Colours 03 9689 0577 or email@example.com
Is it acrylic?
No, this is definitely not an acrylic primed surface.
We make and apply a traditional gesso ground made from gelatine glue (also known as hide glue) and English whiting (calcium carbonate).
A genuine gesso ground is a unique, beautiful, intensely receptive surface that has qualities that no acrylic ground can match. The fine grain, the absorbency, the control that a genuine gesso can give is quite unparalleled
That said, acrylic grounds certainly have their place and we recommend Golden Acrylic’s range of grounds if you prefer an acrylic-based ground.
Can you make it without gelatine?
Unfortunately not. We have yet to find another binder that has the same qualities as gelatine …. but continue looking, to help those that would prefer not to use animal based products.
Will Gesso chip?
Only if it’s mistreated. As to be expected, a traditional gesso ground surface (and any surface with a ground), may be prone to marking and chipping if not handled with care. The panels are shrink-wrapped to protect the surface for sale and delivery.
Is it waterproof?
No. Most artworks don’t like getting wet, be they wooden panels or canvases.
Paper, canvas and any other support structures for painting and drawing don’t like being kept in moist environments or being wet.
Watercolour works well on gesso but we recommend not flooding the surface.
As with any other timber panels, once an artwork is finished it is good practice to seal the back and sides of the panel with shellac or an acrylic sealer to keep out the moisture. This will help protect the panel for years to come.
What materials can I use on a traditional gesso panel?
Pretty much anything: Silverpoint, Copperpoint, Metalpoint, Pencil, Pastel, Oil Pastel, Ink, Acrylic paint, Gouache, Oil Paint, Collage, Sgraffito … Anything you would use on other panels, canvases, and paper.
Traditional Gesso is an absorbent ground so it takes marks well. We’ll be making some tutorials on techniques and different media, but the best way to find out is to experiment.
Can I scratch into a traditional Gesso Panel?
Yes, but the gesso layer is only a millimetre or so thick so you could scratch through to the board underneath if you’re too vigorous.. Exposing the board underneath will create a wood-cut like effect, which is fine, but we would recommend that final artwork should be varnished.
Should I varnish the final picture?
With any artwork not under glass, varnishing is always good practise as it does protect the surface from atmospheric pollution and dirt, but it is always at the discretion of the artist.
Can I sand a traditional Gesso panel?
They are generally finished to the equivalent of 600grit so most people don’t feel the need, but yes they can be sanded as long as you are careful not to sand through the top layer of gesso.
Why don’t the Gesso panels come in larger sizes?
The gelatine glue gives the gesso its wonderful qualities, but this also means that large unbraced panels (without a chassis or bracing on the back) can bow due to the strength of the glue.
We’re experimenting with traditional gesso ground on larger braced panels – stay tuned.
panel and substrate questions
Why use a panel instead of a canvas?
It really comes down to personal preference, but there are some additional benefits with panels.
Panels are rigid and therefore paint surfaces are less likely to crack and delaminate due to movement the way a canvas does.
Also panels are perfectly square and to exact dimensions with crisp straight edges.
You can put canvas, linen, papers, veneers, etc onto the panel’s rigid surface.
The 6mm board can also be drilled, carved, sanded or screen printed,(but use a dust mask). Small fasteners like screws can be used if careful. The Seamless panel will also accept any commercial surface coating that can be used on a fibre board.
Why use a Fisher Wells panel
Our panels are designed from the outset to be the most accurate, dimensionally stable and versatile painting surface available.
We wanted a perfectly square panel that would have no visible glue lines or joins to compromise the appearance of the artists work. We wanted it made from a light, strong, affordable and sustainable material that wouldn’t warp or delaminate. And we wanted them made here in Australia.
Can I paint directly onto my Seamless Painting Panel?
It’s always up to the discretion of the artist but we designed the seamless panel to have a ground applied to it before painting. There are a few reasons why we recommend this.
Using oil paint without a primer or ground underneath means that the oil will soak into the fibres of the panel, or whatever you are painting on. This could leave the oil paint “under bound” which can make the oil film weak and give the paint a chalky appearance.
Using acrylic paint without a primer or ground means that the liquid in the paint is able to take up some of the colour of the wood when the paint is wet..
The panels are ready for you to apply the ground of your choice, whether it be a traditional glue-size and oil ground, gesso sottile, acrylic gesso, shellac, Golden GAC100, etc.
The panels can also be covered with Canvas, Linen, Watercolour papers and Collage etc.
Should I seal my Seamless Painting panel after I finish my artwork?
It’s good practice to seal any timber panel once your artwork is finished. You can use shellac or an acrylic sealer on the back and sides to keep out the moisture.
Is it MDF?
Yes, it is a fibreboard. We use the best EU standard fibreboard made here in Australia from plantation grown softwoods. E0 grade fibreboard has a formaldehyde emission of less than 0.5mg/L. This is lower than many other commonly used household products.
Why do you use MDF instead of plywood?
Sometimes people worry about formaldehyde in MDF. But contrary to popular myth, plywood also contains formaldehyde. Plywood artist panels, and plywoods in general usually use phenolic formaldehyde or urea formaldehyde as the glue.
Also we found that E0 grade fibreboard doesn’t have the problems that plywood can have, (refer below) of the grain ‘telegraphing’ through a painting ground. This is because the fibreboard in our panels has no grain orientation.
We personally make and use our panels for our own practice, and both our health and the stability of the panels is important to us, so we decided the E0 grade fibreboard was the safest way to go.
Does MDF or Fibreboard expand and contract causing problems?
No. All wood expands and contracts a bit, including fibreboard. But fibreboard has no grain issues, and by making the entire panel from one piece of wood it ensures that differences in expansion and contraction rates are distributed evenly and that contraction of paint films can’t tear apart delicate veneers.
Why? It is normal for any wood with a grain to expand and contract along its grain. In some circumstances this can cause cracking and delamination of paint films as they dry. Ply wood while stable as a whole is still vulnerable as a painting surface as the faces are usually thin veneers of timber that are subject to the shrinking of paint films and movement from moisture and temperature differences.
Most cradled or chassis panels available until now have used plywood painting boards glued to a timber frame. By not using solid timber or plywood we avoid this issue.
How do you make a Seamless Painting Panel? I can’t see a chassis?
We have registered our design (intellectual property protection) to protect our idea, our research and years of development – so it’s a bit of a secret.
We do make each Seamless panel from the one piece of fibreboard. We cut, form and glue the boards together.
The design ensures that the panels are geometrically accurate, and create an aesthetically appealing panel that appears to be without joins or seams. The panels are made with 6mm EO grade fibreboard.
What glue is used in the Seamless Painting Panel?
We use Titebond, which is used, by millions of woodworkers around the world. It’s very dependable and consistent in its performance.
Will Seamless Painting Panels break or dent the corners if I drop them?
They will break if mistreated, but small dents in the surface and edges may be repaired by using a hard, sandable wood filler.
Why can’t a Seamless Painting Panel be in a moist environment?
Canvas, paper and most other support structures for painting and drawing don’t like moist environments as it accelerates degradation by allowing mould and bacteria to grow, and eventually rot. It’s the same with a wooden panel.
Once an artwork is finished it is good practice to seal the back and sides of the panel with shellac or an acrylic sealer to keep out the moisture. This will help protect the panel for years to come.
Is it waterproof?
No. All wooden panels and canvases don’t like water. Splashes that quickly dry-off are fine. Read the above question about moisture too.
What type of wood is used in your panels?
We use 6mm EO grade fibreboard. This is a light but stable material. We use 3mm EO grade fibreboard for our 4” x 5” panels.
According to International Composite Board Emission Standards (ICBES), there are 3 European formaldehyde classes, namely: E0, E1 and E2. This classification is based on the measurement of formaldehyde emission levels.
For instance, E0 is classified as having less than 3 milligrams of formaldehyde out of every 100 grams of the glue used in particleboard and plywood fabrication. E1 and E2, conversely, are classified as having 9 and 30 grams of formaldehyde per 100 grams of glue respectively. All around the world variable certification and labelling schemes are there for such products that can be explicit to formaldehyde release, like that of Californian Air Resources Board (CARB).
Why do you refer to inches and not centimetres cm or millimetres mm?
Most wood products are still milled to inch sizes even though they are sold in mm so its more efficient and creates less waste for us to cut them to inch based sizes
An inch = 2.54cm and here is a site to calculate conversions https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/conversions/common/inches-cm.php
Inches and non-metric measurement is based on the human form, and it naturally lends itself to well-proportioned products.
For example the 8 inches x 10 inches panel is a quite lovely size to work on. Frame profiles and even many ready-made frames are still made to traditional inch measurements.
We also work with many traditional and non-metric tools that lend themselves to working in imperial measurements.
Can you make custom sized panels?
We’re a small business so we currently can’t offer this service, except for larger orders over $700 (incl GST). If you are interested in a quote for a large custom order, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.
BTW – we don’t ever undercut our distributor or our lovely art material shops. If you want to order any of our normal suite of Traditional Gesso panels or Seamless Painting Panels, please get in touch with one of our stockists.
Can you make curved panels?
We’re not offering this product at the moment.
Can you make giant panels?
We can make really large braced panels as a custom offering. We’re a small business, so we currently can’t offer this service unless it’s a for large order of panels over $700 (incl GST). If you are interested in a quote for a large custom order, please contact email@example.com and we’ll be in touch.
pens, tools and mahlstick questions
Why is the wood a different colour or size to what’s in the picture?
We use many beautiful woods that we source in small lots, often from garden timber or from recycled from old damaged furniture that can’t be fixed. It’s a small gesture, but using timber responsibly will hopefully help us to continue to have our beautiful forests. But it means there is variation in the wood we use.
When the pens are turned on the lathe, Ian makes decisions as how best to create a beautiful, functional pen out of the wood we have. Responding to the wood this way means that they will all be subtly different and have an individual character.
What’s the difference between a metalpoint tool and a metalpoint pen?
Metalpoint describes a drawing made by drawing the metal tip across a surface such as gesso, or a primed and finely abrasive surface.
Silverpoint refers to the tip being made of silver. Copperpoint refers to the tip being made of copper.
Why use metalpoint, silverpoint or copperpoint pens or tools?
Metalpoint is incredibly durable. It is ideal for under drawing or the layout of paintings as it does not smear or contaminate paint as graphite can.
A metalpoint pen or tool acts like a pencil that hardly wears down. It can leave a fine, distinctive mark. Tone can also be applied to drawings through shading and hatching techniques
Why use Nib and Ink pens? Or Dip pens?
Dip pens are versatile and often overlooked drawing tools. They can be used with inks, dyes, pigmented inks, and even water based paints and oils with a bit of experimentation.
Most pens are designed for calligraphy with a shorter and finer shaft for writing. But our pens are designed for artists with longer smooth wood shafts similar to paint brush handles. We turn the pen shaft to be slightly thicker and a bit longer so the artist can vary their grip for small marks or greater flowing lines.
Why use Mahlsticks?
Mahlsticks are a traditional tool used by artists to support or steady the hand holding a paintbrush, pencil or any other mark making tool while drawing, painting etc.
The mahlstick allows the hand to be steadied without smudging the artwork they are working on. It can be used to make straight lines and arcs. The use of this traditional bracing tool allows artists to work on detail, or apply straight or curved lines with control and accuracy.
What are Fisher Wells’ Mahlsticks made from?
We use polished hardwood dowels and a soft leather covered ball tied with flax twine.
something seems to have gone wrong?
If something went unexpectedly wrong with one of our products, even though you’ve handled the product with appropriate care, then we want to hear from you and help. Please send us an email or get in contact with the shop where you purchased the product.
Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org