Monday, November 17, 2008

Gesso Panel

Starting 'Corralled' - I am beginning with a sheet of plywood finished grade. It is actually smooth on both sides - birch I believe. To prepare the gesso ground I'm using Gamblin traditional gesso. This is one of the materials that can be used to create the white surface. Another alternative is the acrylic polymer emulsion but that has a less absorbent surface. Real gesso is a combination of rabbit skin glue, gypsum, calcium carbonate and titanium dioxide. Many years ago, I would stretch unprimed linen and then size it with rabbit skin glue, which I cooked - and man does that stuff wreak :) - This Gamblin gesso is much nicer in that everything is all in there - plus, you couldn't use this on a stretched canvas as it is too brittle. I had to put the mixture into distilled water yesterday and let it sit for about 24 hours. Once it was done soaking - I then used a double boiler to heat water underneath the pot of soaking gesso. It is very delicate and shouldn't be heated directly. You can see the little crystals of rabbit skin glue in the mixture and once those are dissolved - it is ready to go. I usually do stuff like this right in the kitchen - so, if you can imagine it - a sheet of plywood leaned up against the cabinets and gesso on the stove - yummy :) - When I work on sculpture, sometimes I put the clay in the oven to soften it a bit - mmm, yummy. Once the gesso is dry, I'll probably sand it with a 220 grit sand paper and then mix up another batch to give it a beautiful surface. I really love a pristine gessoed surface and really kind of wish I could have a show of just gessoed panels - they really are beautiful. There is nothing like a beautifully Lambertian surface.


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