Tuesday, April 10, 2012

YSM - Make Your Own Gesso

All right, it's simply white glue, water, and baby powder. It smells pretty good, but other than that, it's crap.

It's SUPER thick, but not in a paste-y kind of way. Sort of like it's dry in the middle and just covered with something wet. That doesn't make any sense, but it's how it seems. Like you have to "punch" through to get it on the brush, and then when you brush it on something you have to push really hard to get it on the substrate.

I tried it first on book paper, just so see how it reacted to paper. It was OK, it went on fine, but it's a very strange texture. Write on it was like writing on sandpaper - it worked, but if you were to blow on it the pencil lines it comes off because it's mostly just dust.

I painted her with watercolors and it was HORRIBLE. The "gesso" isn't permanent because I used elmer's glue so the water kept activating it and making a big, smeary mess.

This was through a stencil, obviously. on Stonehenge printmaking paper. The gesso activated the alcohol inks that were on the stencil, which surprised me because alcohol inks are permanent, but that's why it's blue.

Theoretically I was going to do a gesso resist, but it was REALLY thick, and it didn't resist AT ALL. Yuck.

The prismacolors over it were horrible, also. Trying to blend them made the stuff flake off in chunks.

Theoretically, I was going to show you the same techniques using store-bought gesso and my gesso. I really, really, REALLY wanted my gesso to work! But since it didn't, here is a couple of the same techniques with Liquitex gesso.

This is the gesso over book paper. The prismacolors still don't work very well, but it's a MILLION times better than the stuff I made. It's a lot thinner, dries practically instantly, held on to the graphite, and even let me erase a little when I tried it.

This is on Stonehenge printmaking paper, through a different stencil. This is a resist. Gesso first, through the stencil, then paint, then a little water, then rubbed with a towel and voila! It came out pretty cool.

So, the verdict is: homemade gesso is fine if you want to add texture, but not so much just for surface prep. Don't use Elmer's glue because it's not permanent. For me? I hate all gesso and just use plain white paint when I have a need for covering things up! 

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