Alternatives to thick acrylic gel?
June 13, 2012 3:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for possible cheaper alternatives/ substitutes for heavy acrylic gels for my paintings. The stuff I get at the art store is a little pricy for the amounts I like to use. I'm hoping there's some kind of (industrial?) paste out there that would act similarly. (basically, a thick medium that I can 'etch' then let dry)
posted by mrmarley to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at the mail order companies. I buy acrylic medium by the gallon - much cheaper that way. Watch for sales at places like Jerry's Artarama, Dick Blick, CheapJoe's etc. Daniel Smith makes their own (excellent) line of paints and mediums and when they have sales they're competetive in cost. Watch for offers like buy $200 of art supplies and get free shipping and time your purchases or team up with others...

I've never found an alternative to heavy gel - you could experiment with letting regular medium evaporate but given quantity needed I'm not sure it would be a win.
posted by leslies at 4:53 AM on June 13, 2012

I'd be concerned about the long-term durability of a random substitute for acrylic gel medium, as in: do you want your paintings to be around in twenty years?

When you're evaluating alternatives, check out the Amien forum on archival art issues.
They're quite keen on this sort of stuff.

That said, I'd suggest, possibly, plaster. Either carving drywall (and using a layer of acrylic "gesso") or building a 1 inch deep box, building up a layer of burlap and plaster, carving that, and coating it with acrylic gesso. That's if it gives itself over to the work that you're doing.

But the behavior of plaster with stuff like acrylic medium is well known.


Or a layer of carved plaster; sealing that with plastic wrap or gesso, and then using it as a mold / support for paper mache. Once the paper mache has dried, coat it with acrylic medium aka "gesso" and paint on that.

I like leslies's suggestion.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2012

Novagel (out of California) is the best quality and price, you can order online in large amounts. They have some different types of pastes.
posted by nanook at 7:10 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you considered a house paint primer? Super sticky and thick, like "Fresh Start", acrylic from Benjamin Moore, possibly available in 5 gallons. Wear gloves or clean it off your hands right away, it really sticks.

Not thick enough? How about a block filler-for good breeze block coverage. Make your own block filter, add dry sheetrock (90) to a primer paint.
posted by alicesshoe at 11:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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