Friday, 9 April 2010

Homemade gesso

I needed to look up 'gesso' cos I hadn't heard of it ever before! And there is a lot of info out there!!!

Here's what I found out about making some at home, from here:

Gesso is a powder made from calcium carbonate and glue. Applied to wood, it hardens a brilliant white and can be used a primer or sculpting material. Gesso was traditionally used as a base for tempera and was a favorite of Renaissance panel painters. It can also be used on furniture and moldings, where it is be built up and carved. Gold leaf is normally applied to wood on top of a layer of gesso. Here are some tips.
Difficulty: Easy

Things You'll Need:

  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Woodworking glue
  • Honey
  • Coloring agent (optional)

  1. Step1
    To Make gesso begin by slaking your plaster of Paris. Mix together 1 part plaster of Paris and 4 parts water. Let the mixture sit until the plaster settles to the bottom. Pour off the water and re-mix. Repeat this process three times. The plaster reacts with the water. If the mixture gets warmer than when you started, repeat the process. If it appears to be the same temperature as when you started, then your plaster is slaked.

  2. Step2
    Scoop out the plaster of Paris and let it dry completely. Break up any clumps that appear as they may contain areas of moisture. Use a common kitchen grater to grind it into a fine powder.

  3. Step3
    Mix three parts plaster of Paris to 1 part glue. Add several drops of honey to every tablespoon or so of this mixture. Mix thoroughly and pound out any lumps. Your mixture should have the consistency of pancake batter. The gesso is now ready to use.

  4. Step4
    To color your gesso, simply mix in a coloring agent. You can use watercolors or gouache. Store your gesso in an airtight container. Add a little water if the gesso becomes too dry.


  1. sounds like a lot of work to avoid spending $30 for a gallon of good gesso!

    1. That's because it is cheap where YOU are. It isn't cheap here - where it is an imported product, and with the conversion from dollars to ringgit, it is very expensive.

      I put it here for people who'd appreciate the option.

      And, some of us enjoy making things ourselves - so that we know what's going into the products we use.

      It is not always about the money.