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Cradled wooden boards

Artist's Loft Primed Cradled Wooden Board

Please see my comment below this post…these boards have been discontinued. 🙁

I’m getting this question a lot lately, so I figure it’s time to be more specific about the “cradled wooden boards” that I use to paint with alcohol inks.  I suppose the whole “wooden board” phrase seems pretty contradictory to the fact that alcohol inks can only be used on “non-porous surfaces”.

I am lazy.  I don’t want to prime a board – or anything – with gesso.  (Is there a spray gesso?  If so, I might try it.)  I like to work on substrates that require the least amount of effort to prepare for painting.

The boards I use are Artist’s Loft Primed Wooden Cradled Boards, and they’re available only at Michaels.  I know that there are other brands/types of these boards, but this is the only one I’ve tried and used successfully.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I say.  The surface is smooth; the inks are not absorbed and retain most, if not all, of the properties that they have while working on other smooth surfaces like Yupo paper.

The board surface is gesso-primed MDF, and the cradled frame is pine.  They are available in a variety of sizes, in 1″ and 2″ depths.  Look for them in Michaels near canvas panels and masonite boards.

Michaels also sells unprimed boards, and they are a little less expensive, but not much…and, as noted above, I am lazy and really don’t mind spending a buck or two more for something that’s ready to paint on and doesn’t require any additional preparation.

I have also painted on Claybord panels but have not tried any of their cradled boards/boxes.  Other brands of this type of cradled board that I’ve seen are NOT primed on the sides, so this was a turnoff for me.  I paint the sides of all of my pieces that are done on these boards, so they are like a gallery-wrapped canvas and are ready to hang.

Here are some examples of paintings I’ve done on cradled wooden boards:

Agate-inspired abstract landscapes - alcohol inks on wooden board by Monica Moody    Yoga-inspired painting - alcohol inks on 8x8x2 cradled wooden board - by Monica Moody     Learning to Fly - Alcohol inks on cradled wooden board - by Monica Moody

I finish my paintings on cradled wooden boards with Krylon UV Resistant Clear (Gloss) on both the surface and sides.



  1. Update: it looks like Michaels has discontinued these boards, which makes me REALLY sad. I grabbed a bunch of them on clearance not long ago, and now they’re not on the store shelves anymore.

    The alternatives/similar products are things like cradled Gessobord or Claybord, and those are nice, but they’re more expensive, so I’m back to square one, once I run out of boards.

    Maybe I will get motivated and try gessoing unprimed boards (which are cheaper and more available, found some @ Dick Blick). Yeah, right. Still too lazy.

    • Have you looked into Cheap Joes art supplies? They have excellent primed boards

      • I’ve ordered Yupo from Cheap Joe’s but haven’t tried their primed boards. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Monica, have you ever painted on melamine boards (like you use for shelving)? I saw where someone posted a peacock she had painted on that type of surface.

  3. Hi Monica,
    Like you I am addicted to alcohol inks and yupo and i have to pay high prices for both as they are imported to U.K
    For ages I have been trying to get a spray to finish my work with a protective, uv coating.
    I was really pleased to read your great blog but again horrified to find out that the cheapest I can find the krylon spray is £27 pounds!
    Do you know of alternative products that I could try to source.
    I have just ordered Ghiant H2O varnish as I heard that You need a water based product on alcohol inks but I havent tried it yet.
    I feel quite desperate as i so want to develop and sell my work.
    Any thoughts gratefully received. Thank you for a great blog

  4. Great advise!
    Once the painting has been finished with the UV Spray, what else do you do? Do the paintings need glass over them?
    How to ensure that they are of archival quality?

    Thank you!

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