Navigation

Making “Skins” with Fluid Acrylics

Overview:

An acrylic “skin” is a dry acrylic film that can be made of paint, medium or a combination of paint and medium, that is not attached to any substrate.

While acrylic skins can be made with just about any GOLDEN Acrylic Medium, Gel, Paste or Paint, our Fluid Acrylics work particularly well since the consistency allows for easy pouring and spreading onto a casting surface. Fluids can be easily blended with any number of mediums or gels to thin, thicken, increase translucency, or alter surface sheen. Usable skins can be cast in one application, but building up your skins in thinner layers will actually speed up the drying process.  In this series we are using GAC 800 with the Fluids as it also has the advantage of reducing crazing in pours.

Materials-for-making-skins.image1

Materials for making skins

What You’ll Need:

  • Polyethylene plastic or “plastic sheeting”, commonly found in hardware stores (at least 4 mil thick) can be used as a surface for casting skins. Large polyethylene sheets can also be ordered from stores handling plastic supplies.  Acrylics have poor adhesion to this kind of plastic so acrylic skins can be peeled off easily. Glass can also be used. Do not use Plexiglas or any other acrylic sheeting as acrylic paints and mediums will adhere well to these surfaces. Very large skins are best made with Gels and cast thicker so they can be handled more easily. Thin skins tend to tear and fold in on themselves, making it difficult to pull them apart.
  • Fluid Acrylic colors of your choice
  • GAC 800
  • Spreading tool (palette knife, trowel, plastic joint compound spreader)
  • Tape or staple gun
  • Board or table of some kind that can accept staples or tape

 

Casting-an-acrylic-skin-by-spreading-Fluid-Acrylics-on-a-plastic-sheet.image2-copy

Casting an acrylic skin by spreading Fluid Acrylics on a plastic sheet

The Process:

Staple or tape a piece of poly plastic sheeting to a board, such as a piece of smooth plywood. If there are wrinkles or creases, these will be cast into the dried skin, so if you need a completely smooth surface, use only plastic that is not creased or a piece of glass. Stretching and stapling the poly sheeting can help in this regard. You can simply pour and drizzle Fluid Acrylic paint onto the plastic or surface which will allow release of the dry skin. Let it dry overnight or for several days, depending upon the thickness and weather conditions. Very thin areas may tear or be too delicate after peeling up, so be aware of the thickness of the paint film during your application process and if you find it is too thin, add another coat.

Fluid-Acrylics-dripped-into-GAC-800...Image-4

Fluid Acrylics dripped into GAC 800

For variable translucent and wet into wet effects, pouring Fluid Acrylics onto a fresh puddle of GAC 800, or any clear or translucent painting medium, offers  some wonderful possibilities. This method also helps insure a thick enough film for easier handling. You can pre-blend GAC 800 and a small amount of Fluid Acrylic to create very translucent films that can be added to a collage to create optical color mixing effects. To avoid bubbles in the film it is best to allow those mixtures to sit overnight. And of course, you can use all these techniques to create a mixture of opaque and translucent areas. The wet acrylic can be allowed to flow naturally or manipulated with various tools. Another option is tilting the board so that the acrylic flows. Each method will allow for its own range of effects and experimentation is the best teacher here.

Fluid-Acrylics-blended-with-GAC-800-and-poured.Image3

Fluid Acrylics blended with GAC 800 and poured

Depending upon the weather and environmental conditions, the drying time will vary. When completely dry, carefully peel up the skin, taking care not to let it fold on itself, as it can easily stick together.

The side of the skin next to the plastic or surface it has been cast upon will be very smooth with a distinctive look, while the top surface will be somewhat textured depending on how it was applied. These two very different surfaces give you a range of options for use. A good way to store skins, is to place them back down on a sheet of plastic and store flat with another piece of plastic on top or a sheet of silicone release paper. You can also roll the plastic as long as no skin is touching another skin.

Peeling-transl-skin.Image6

Peeling translucent skin

Peeling-up-a-dry-acrylic-skin.image-5

Peeling up a dry acrylic skin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uses for Acrylic Skins:

The most common use for acrylic skins is for collage. They can be easily glued down using one of our Gel Mediums or even just pressed into wet acrylic paint. Some artists have used skins as support-less paintings, but these will be very delicate and prone to damage. Possibilities exist with “free acrylic skins” attached to rigid structures, or with non-reactive plastic mesh or cheesecloth inside the skins to combat stretching from their own weight. Skins can be glued down flat with a medium or gel or they can be wrinkled or bunched or folded.

When cold, acrylics skins may be broken into pieces. When warm you can bend, twist, roll or fold them and collage them in a variety of ways. They can also be cut with scissors to make any shape you want. Very glossy skins can be stuck to glass and will stay put for a long time. Take some time to experiment making and using acrylic skins. We think you’ll find it can add a very effective tool to your studio practice.

selection of acrylic skins.image7

Selection of acrylic skins

11 Responses to Making “Skins” with Fluid Acrylics

  1. Nancy Coleman June 20, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    I’ve been making sheets of acrylics for a while, and find that they are much easier to peel off of parchment paper than off plastic. Then you can use the same sheet of parchment to store it for a while, such as until you have enough to complete your project, even stacking them, as they don’t stick.

    • Scott Bennett June 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you very much for your input. Parchment paper sounds like a good idea. We would not recommend wax paper as there could be some residue left on the skin that might discourage adhesion when using the skins as collage elements. We don’t know if there is any residue left from parchment paper, but would think less than with wax paper. Thanks again!!

  2. Julia Skop June 20, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    Thank you for your article! I have been working on making skins and find that even once they are thoroughly dry their surfaces tend to be a bit tacky – for example they will stick to themselves. I am wondering if there might be something to treat the surface of the skin to harden or smooth or so that it would no longer stick to itself?

    • Scott Bennett June 20, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

      Hi Julia,

      Fine art grade acrylic films, especially glossy ones, will tend to be a bit tacky, especially at warmer temperatures. Acrylic gets softer and more flexible when warmer and harder and less flexible at colder temperatures. We are not aware of any product or material that can harden an already dry acrylic film, and hardening would tend to also make the skin brittle, which means that it would be more delicate and could crack more easily. I do know that some artists have used talc powder to make tacky skins less able to stick to themselves and other surfaces. If you do this, we would recommend using a damp cloth to remove any talc from the surface before adhering the skin to another surface. You might want to try the idea that Nancy ( see above comments ) suggested about using parchment paper to store your skins. I have always found it best to use them as soon as possible for collage so they do not get damaged.

  3. Laima Gascoigne June 20, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

    As the skin remains somewhat tacky, could gold leaf be applied?

    • Scott Bennett June 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      This might be possible with glossy skins that are tacky, and you might be able to increase the tack by warming up a glossy skin with a hair dryer, but this is not fully tested and we prefer to recommend a dedicated gold and metal leaf size. We happen to make one that is a custom product and can be ordered via a store that sells our products or directly from us. Here is more information for you about this product when it first came out as an experimental product.

      http://www.justpaint.org/experimental-products/

  4. Cynthia Anne McLean June 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    I recently saw a video of an artist who was making acrylic skins using your soft gel. She made them, and stored them, on a cut open sheet protector (polypropylene). Cut open for the making then, once thoroughly dry, closed for storage in a 3 ring binder. Is there any downside to using the sheet protector?

    • Scott Bennett June 22, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      Hi Cynthia,

      One disadvantage would be that they may tend to get ferrotyped, which means that the relatively soft and flexible acrylic surface will be altered by prolonged close contact with the polypropylene plastic. This may or may not matter, depending on the artist. If you like the way a particular skin looks, then it is usually best to store it with nothing touching the surface and using it as soon as possible.

      The only other thing I can think of would be that thinner skins may stick too tightly and when peeled off, might tear or perhaps even become too firmly attached. We have seen glossy acrylic skins become very well attached to glass after they have been pressed to the surface for several months. This might happen with the polypropylene, especially if weight is applied.

  5. Alan Rich June 21, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    I was commissioned to paint a men’s summer straw fedora. Since I do a lot of fluid pour abstracts and have made skins in the past for a 55 gallon plastic water barrel commission, I thought I would do the same for the hat.

    I made about 5 skins, some opaque and others translucent. Mixed in some metallic flakes and driveway epoxy flakes. Cut large pieces, used soft gel as adhesive, and a hair dryer to soften and shape the piece to the contours of the hat.

    It worked extremely well and did add some weight to the hat, but looked awesome and the guy loved it.

    • Scott Bennett June 22, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for letting us know about this very cool way of using acrylic skins ! There are so many possibilities, and the main limitations have to do with the same characteristics of acrylic paints and mediums in general; that they are relatively soft and flexible ( also a great positive attribute! ), and thermo plastic – a quality you used to advantage by warming to soften them up. This same quality can cause them to stick to other surfaces or become ferrotyped if pressed against another material for a length of time.

      For any functional use of fine art grade acrylics, some type of harder topcoat or varnish is typically recommended to add more physical surface protection.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. CAA News | College Art Association » Blog Archive » News from the Art and Academic Worlds | CAA - June 22, 2016

    […] An acrylic “skin” is a dry acrylic film that can be made of paint, medium, or a combination of paint and medium, that is not attached to any substrate. While acrylic skins can be made with just about any acrylic medium, gel, paste, or paint, fluid acrylics work particularly well since the consistency allows for easy pouring and spreading onto a casting surface. (Read more from Just Paint.) […]

Leave a Reply

*

Made by Golden Artist Colors, Inc.

css.php