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  1. #1
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    concord,ma.
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    Default Material used to make sails for sailing boats

    As a painter I was recently given some old "canvas" to paint on by an avid sailor. Much to my chagrin it was not the "canvas" I was expecting, but a synthetic material. It could be a polyester. i do know the manufacturer, Melges of Zenda,Wisconson. I've gone to their website but do not know how to determine what the material actually is. It has an extremely tight weave and is difficult to stretch in the conventional manner,(obviously).
    Can I use a conventional gesso ground to size this material? I usually underpaint in alkyd, then overpaint in oil. I am not certain if this material will simply slough off the paint, and/ or gesso. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
    Last edited by mossco; 12-13-2010 at 11:35 PM. Reason: adding info

  2. #2
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    Default Material used to make sails for sailing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by mossco View Post
    As a painter I was recently given some old "canvas" to paint on by an avid sailor. Much to my chagrin it was not the "canvas" I was expecting, but a synthetic material. It could be a polyester. i do know the manufacturer, Melges of Zenda,Wisconson. I've gone to their website but do not know how to determine what the material actually is. It has an extremely tight weave and is difficult to stretch in the conventional manner,(obviously).

    Can I use a conventional gesso ground to size this material? I usually underpaint in alkyd, then overpaint in oil. I am not certain if this material will simply slough off the paint, and/ or gesso. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
    mossco,

    Welcome to AMIEN.

    We went to the Melges website, too, and it was obvious to us that they only sell boats equipped with sails. We did see a reference to the sail-maker, "one design," and went to that site, too: No information. We suggest you contact Melges directly and ask them to tell you what kind of material the sailcloth is made of.

    We're betting its a polyester fabric -- but don't take our word for it! It might be Dacron or an acrylic -- which are not as good as the polyesters.

    If it is polyester, we suggest you take the cloth to a commercial laundry and have it washed before you use it -- you want to remove any oils and dirt that might have accumulated. Washing will clean it and fluff the fibers a bit. (Or, you could just spot-wash a section yourself, with detergent and warm water -- rinse thoroughly and let it dry.) Examine the surface under magnification. Are there little fibers sticking up everywhere? That's a good sign, an applied ground will stick.

    Polyester does not stretch well or easily. We don't recommend painting oils on stretched fabric anyway, so if it turns out this is a polyester and you want to use it we suggest you mount it on a braced panel. (You can do a Search here with the terms, "mounting fabric on a panel" to find out how.) Then, you can apply one very slightly thinned coating of the acrylic dispersion primer/ground (which is not true gesso -- and you can do another Search here to find out why we say that), followed by at least one more coating that's not thinned.

    Sorry! This may all seem too complicated. But if you want to use this material to make a durable work of art, you might want to first find out more about it. Please let us know what you find out!
    The AMIEN Staff

  3. #3
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    Dec 2010
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    concord,ma.
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    Default Material used to make sails for sailing boats

    Thank you Amien for your answer. Further, if the material is polyester what kind of adhesive should one use to adhere the poly to a hardboard? What is the best material to use as a hardboard substrate?

  4. #4
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    Default More on material used to make sails for sailing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by mossco View Post
    Thank you Amien for your answer. Further, if the material is polyester what kind of adhesive should one use to adhere the poly to a hardboard? What is the best material to use as a hardboard substrate?
    mossco,

    We use an acrylic dispersion gel medium as the mounting adhesive. Hardboard is hardboard -- you may know it by the old brand name, "Masonite." You could also use plywood; 6 mm thick plywood will have to be braced, but 25 mm thick plywood would only need bracing for sizes over a meter on a side.

    P.S. ... It's AMIEN, an acronym ... thanks!
    The AMIEN Staff

  5. #5
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    Dec 2010
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    concord,ma.
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    Default Material used to make sails for sailing boats

    To the AMIEN (an acronym) staff member who answered my post, Thank You!
    I understand that AMIEN is only an acronym for Artists Materials Information and Education Network. It is the acronym AMIEN by which I know you. I addressed my thanks to Amien not a particular member of said staff especially as I don't know who you are as you answer AMIEN in your replys,...I realize that I did not have the caps lock button depressed at the time I wrote an address to you but...? ( I have difficulty with my hands so keyboarding 'mistakes" are likely to appear in my posts.) I thought I was thanking ALL of you for being there, and as I am NEW to the service I cannot understand why this in particular would warrant any comment. It does seem rather arch. But then again, so does this reply.
    So let's move on!
    I am not familiar with whether or not you can give a name to the acrylic dispersion gel medium of which you speak. If you are able, could you name a few? I apologize if you are going over all too familiar and commonly asked questions but this is one of mine.
    Last edited by mossco; 12-14-2010 at 01:08 PM. Reason: addition

  6. #6
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    Jun 2006
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    Default AMIEN

    Quote Originally Posted by mossco View Post
    To the AMIEN (an acronym) STAFF member who answered my post, Thank You!
    I understand that AMIEN is only an acronym for Artists Materials Information and Education Network. It is the acronym AMIEN by which I know you. I addressed my thanks to the Staff at AMIEN, as AMIEN not a particular member of said staff especially as I don't know who you are as you answer AMIEN in your replys,... I thought I was thanking ALL of you for being there, and as I am NEW to the service I cannot understand why this in particular would warrant any comment. It does seem rather arch. But then again, so does this reply. So let's move on!
    mossco,

    We all have moved on!
    The AMIEN Staff

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    145

    Default check the sails

    You better check the material carefully. I used to sail and though I've never sailed a Melges boat, they are high-tech boats made for competition and can have very high-tech sails made from materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber. (From one of their boat specifications: "From its supermodel profile to a standard set of high-tech, KevlarŪ sails by North, this ride is where sophisticated ideas and excellence in boat building converge...")

    Messing with such sails (like cutting them) can even be a bit dangerous, I've been told, like cutting woven fiberglass (you may get free-floating micro-fibers...but this may be an urban legend; I don't know it for a fact.) You may also need to hot-cut the sails to anneal the edges (I don't know that for sure, either, but have seen some sails cut that way.) Also, the sails may have a variety of chemical surface treatments for water-proofing, etc.

    I will say that sail cloth is probably among the toughest, longest-lasting fabrics ever made, since it has to stand up to extreme stress, weather and sunlight without failure. Also, sails have to be changed regularly, so there should be good quantities of this material sitting around in sail houses, although it might be hard to find large flat pieces. If there was some way of recycling synthetic sailcloth as good, reusable painting surfaces, that would be terrific: assuming the sails would not be damaged by the chemicals in paint, and would meet adhesion standards, it'd be far better than canvas in terms of durability. Many sails are made of those synthetic materials that may, in practical terms, last forever -- much longer than any paint would.

    JC

  8. #8
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    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
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    66

    Default

    If the sails are a white fabric they are Dacron. The more high-tech sails would have a visible fiber or Mylar appearance. Even the Dacron may be a problem. Sail fabric is stiffened by the addition of sizing that will not easily wash out, and might cause adhesion problems. However, I have seen it used as a construction material for building ultra-light boats which were painted, so it is possible. Dacron has an interesting property; it can be shrunk over a form using heat. I've always thought that might offer some interesting possibilities for a 3-D painting. All in all, it could be worth some experimenting.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2006
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    Default Check the sails

    Quote Originally Posted by John Camp View Post
    You better check the material carefully. I used to sail and though I've never sailed a Melges boat, they are high-tech boats made for competition and can have very high-tech sails made from materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber. (From one of their boat specifications: "From its supermodel profile to a standard set of high-tech, KevlarŪ sails by North, this ride is where sophisticated ideas and excellence in boat building converge...")

    Messing with such sails (like cutting them) can even be a bit dangerous, I've been told, like cutting woven fiberglass (you may get free-floating micro-fibers...but this may be an urban legend; I don't know it for a fact.) You may also need to hot-cut the sails to anneal the edges (I don't know that for sure, either, but have seen some sails cut that way.) Also, the sails may have a variety of chemical surface treatments for water-proofing, etc.

    I will say that sail cloth is probably among the toughest, longest-lasting fabrics ever made, since it has to stand up to extreme stress, weather and sunlight without failure. Also, sails have to be changed regularly, so there should be good quantities of this material sitting around in sail houses, although it might be hard to find large flat pieces. If there was some way of recycling synthetic sailcloth as good, reusable painting surfaces, that would be terrific: assuming the sails would not be damaged by the chemicals in paint, and would meet adhesion standards, it'd be far better than canvas in terms of durability. Many sails are made of those synthetic materials that may, in practical terms, last forever -- much longer than any paint would.

    JC
    John Camp,

    Excellent comments, as usual. We thank you.
    The AMIEN Staff

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    concord,ma.
    Posts
    8

    Default Material used to make sails for sailing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by John Camp View Post
    You better check the material carefully. I used to sail and though I've never sailed a Melges boat, they are high-tech boats made for competition and can have very high-tech sails made from materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber. (From one of their boat specifications: "From its supermodel profile to a standard set of high-tech, KevlarŪ sails by North, this ride is where sophisticated ideas and excellence in boat building converge...")

    Messing with such sails (like cutting them) can even be a bit dangerous, I've been told, like cutting woven fiberglass (you may get free-floating micro-fibers...but this may be an urban legend; I don't know it for a fact.) You may also need to hot-cut the sails to anneal the edges (I don't know that for sure, either, but have seen some sails cut that way.) Also, the sails may have a variety of chemical surface treatments for water-proofing, etc

    I will say that sail cloth is probably among the toughest, longest-lasting fabrics ever made, since it has to stand up to extreme stress, weather and sunlight without failure. Also, sails have to be changed regularly, so there should be good quantities of this material sitting around in sail houses, although it might be hard to find large flat pieces. If there was some way of recycling synthetic sailcloth as good, reusable painting surfaces, that would be terrific: assuming the sails would not be damaged by the chemicals in paint, and would meet adhesion standards, it'd be far better than canvas in terms of durability. Many sails are made of those synthetic materials that may, in practical terms, last forever -- much longer than any paint would.

    JC
    Thank you for the info. I have an inquiry out to Melges. Let you all know what I find.

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