Fish Orient

Fish Orient
Encaustic & Image Transfer
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making Encaustic Gesso

This week I decided to make encaustic gesso. I really wanted to buy some of the R&F encaustic gesso in a tub but the price is extortionate here...$68 for the mid sized tub. So after talking to the helpful chap in the art shop I decided to give it a go. So first you need these things...a pack of rabbit skin glue which comes in crystal form,whiting and white pigment. and cold tap water. I followed Timothy McDowells recipe from Joanne Mattera's art of encaustic book. First you make the glue size by mixing the crystals in cold tap water. To each quart of water add two to three tablespoons of glue crystals. Soak this overnight or till it becomes to a jelly like consistency. Once this is done you can warm the glue size ina double boiler till it melts...make sure the size does not boil.

Now to make it white you mix 9 parts whiting to one part pigment in a large bowl. Slowly add mixture to one quart warm glue size. Heat in a double boiler, I used this pyrex jug in an old pan(do notuse these for food again!) about 15 mins until creamy, stirring constantly.Use a chopstick to stir the mix and when the stick has a fine milky coating its good to go.Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and use warm on your panels.

This week I decided to make encaustic gesso. I really wanted to buy some of the R&F encaustic gesso in a tub but the price is extortionate here...$68 for the mid sized tub. So after talking to the helpful chap in the art shop I decided to give it a go. So first you need these things...a pack of rabbit skin glue which comes in crystal form,whiting and white pigment. and cold tap water. I followed Timothy McDowells recipe from Joanne Mattera's art of encaustic book. First you make the glue size by mixing the crystals in cold tap water. To each quart of water add two to three tablespoons of glue crystals. Soak this overnight or till it becomes to a jelly like consistency. Once this is done you can warm the glue size ina double boiler till it melts...make sure the size does not boil.

Now to make it white you mix 9 parts whiting to one part pigment in a large bowl. Slowly add mixture to one quart warm glue size. Heat in a double boiler, I used this pyrex jug in an old pan(do notuse these for food again!) about 15 mins until creamy, stirring constantly.Use a chopstick to stir the mix and when the stick has a fine milky coating its good to go.Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and use warm on your panels.




So I did all this which was pretty easy and came up with this. This is the gesso when it was cooled ater the first making up and board coating. I kept it in the fridge and then warmed it up again to use again. I am not sure how long you can keep it for but it still seems okay.


Here are the boards as I had coated them(middle one got a bit of shellac on it). Timothy McDowell suggests 3-7 coats and a gentle sand in between each coat. This is not as hard as it sounds I put them in the sun and they dried really quickly so I was able to redo them quite quickly. I used a fine tooth sandpaper. When you are doing each layer the gesso needs to be warm to activate the gelatin in the previous layer.

When you do the first layer it will look quite thin but don't worry. When the first layer changes from glossy to dull do the next layer . It says you can do a coat every 30 mins but mine dried really quickly and I did them quicker than that.


So here is the pile of boards i gessoed and my beautiful new table(hubby made) now all messy.
I thought this gesso seemed a lot like pastel primer that I have used before...I am wondering if we can use that under encaustic. If anyone knows the answer to that let me know.
But I am really happy with how the ground looks, it is nice and white and porous for the wax to bed into.
I have also read that artist Tina Elkins uses milk paint as her ground and has had no problems at all.
This is what she wrote

"I have a sneaky insight into the gesso. When I first tried it, it seemed so familiar to me, even the smell. I showed it to my husband who recognized it at once as basically milk paint!
The stuff from R&F is wonderful but very expensive. I won’t argue with R&F, certainly they are the leading experts in our chosen medium, but I have
tested and been working with milk paint and find that it does just as good a job as far as I can tell. R&F’s has a small bit of (acrylic type?) additive in it as well, so it will stick on a variety of surfaces, but you can order milk paint in powdered form as well as an additive also that will allow you to paint  onto a sealed surface for way less than the price of the premixed gesso. Try “The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company” online- comes in many colors too! Only mix what you need- it does not store very long once mixed, and use 2 coats. I have meant to put this information on my art blog, so look for that information to show up there sometime soon when I prime some more panels and shoot a few pictures"
this is the link to her blog

http://tinaelkinsart.blogspot.com/

So that was my week.
I am still working on stuff for my June show and I definately have enough work now so I just need to finish off a few things. We also made a decision to book the gallery for next year for another show. But next time I want to make a body of work that comes from some research and really make it a cohesive set of work.

I like the stuff I have done otherwise I wouldn't put it up there, but I have felt that maybe it was all a bit too quick and I wasn't able to take things further. When you are working you are travelling along a path and I often see side roads that look so enticing and interesting that I realy want to get on down there and explore those side alleys. But because I had to get all this together so quickly I have had to stay on the path and not wander off on little inspirational jaunts. I can see areas wher I could have explored a certain set of imagery even further so that is what I am going to do once this is over.

Anyway that is all till next week, have a good one.

15 comments:

  1. Loved this article and want to start ... now.
    I don't understand the amount for "part" on the whiting and pigment. Please let me know if it is by teaspoon or ounce.
    Would appreciate if you could email me this info at : zebra@satx.rr.com

    Thanks so much,
    Kay

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A part is just that 'a part of the entire amount'. It is a cup a gallon a bowl a truck load, and you add the other parts by using the same 'vessel' to measure the other 'parts'. So 1 cup to 7 cups or 1 bowl to 7 bowls or 1 gallon to 7 gallons and so on...

      Delete
    2. I think Zebra was asking what was the quantity of one part. One part to nine is understandable, but what is size of the initial part? Is it 1 tbsp, 1 cup? You add this 1:9 ration to 1 quart, but how much?

      Delete
    3. PLEASE clarify this point. Could you indicate how much in terms of weight or capacity is ONE PART in relation to the each quarter liter of soaking water with 2/3 -this is not also very precise- tablespoons of glue

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    4. You pick your own Part. If you choose a cup (8 oz) as your Part, then it's 9 cups of whitener to 1 cup of pigment. If you choose to use a Tablespoon it's 9 Tablespoons of whitener to 1 Tablespoon of pigment. Choose your own measurement, it's the ratio that's important

      Delete
  2. thanks for the info about making encaustic gesso for the ground. Sometime I want to try making it. I would like a white ground instead of using beeswax sometimes. Have you ordered milk paint ever and used it? I also think I might try it, but their site says if surface is slick, use another product first for good adherence (which will add to cost). Any experience with this? Great article. thanks very much

    Judy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use Milk Paint on my wooden grounds all the time. Never had an issue with it.

      Delete
  3. anna.marmolada@live.itSeptember 28, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    che gentile a condividere queste tue tecniche! Il fondo per lavorare con l'encausto è quasi esattamente quello che si usa- e usava!- per dipingere le icone bizzantine. Come primo strato si mette però solo l'acqua con la colla di coniglio, poi sopra si mette una tela di cotone o lino, viene rmesso un altro strato di colla calda, quindi si mettono i 7 strati di colla con l'aggiunta del gesso. Sempre felice di vedere quanto sei generosa di suggerimenti! Ciao

    ReplyDelete
  4. anna's comment from google translate:

    which kind of you to share your techniques these! The provision for working with encaustic is almost exactly what you use-and used! - To paint icons bizzantine. As a first layer starts however only water with the rabbit glue, then above it puts a canvas of cotton or linen, is rmesso another layer of hot glue, then you put the 7 layers of glue with the addition of gypsum . Always happy to see how much you're generous tips! Hello

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  5. I am about to do a workshop and am so excited. I'm getting my materials ready. A friend just gave me 20 cradled boards!!! which were for painting and have been undercoated so am looking at the best way to prepare them. So far I know I can cover with canvas or thick paper and now you have given me another option to paint with. I wanted to do encaustic 25 yrs ago but could find no information. Now it is so easy. Can't wait!!

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  6. i am wondering if one can buy the powdered old fashioned milk paint in any color and mix aliittle rabbit skin glue that was soaked in cold water to gell like - no heating no muss and fuss??? the gessoes selling out there are extortionistic

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here's the thing... I have an expensive tub of R&F gesso and now that I read the label I can see that it is acrylic. I was told acrylic gesso would not work because the wax would not adhere to it and yet R&F is selling acrylic gesso for use with encaustics at a huge price! It says right there on the label that it is a highly absorbent acrylic gesso. It does not need to be refrigerated so it obviously is not made of rabbit skin glue. I have recently learned that all those expensive gel mediums and clear gessos used to thin acrylic paint and make glazes for use in mixed media pieces are actually PVA glue and marble paste or even things like talc, plaster of paris, joint compound etc. No longer will I spend tons of money on these things. I make my own gel mediums and gessos. I am trying now to find out what the heck R&F does to the clear gesso other than adding pigment to it to make it work with wax medium.

    ReplyDelete
  8. ...Just want to say that I do love all the R & F paints etc. I have a lot of the paints and also one of their pallets. Just that the gesso is way too much cash for me.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here's the thing... I have an expensive tub of R&F gesso and now that I read the label I can see that it is acrylic. I was told acrylic gesso would not work because the wax would not adhere to it and yet R&F is selling acrylic gesso for use with encaustics at a huge price! It says right there on the label that it is a highly absorbent acrylic gesso. It does not need to be refrigerated so it obviously is not made of rabbit skin glue. I have recently learned that all those expensive gel mediums and clear gessos used to thin acrylic paint and make glazes for use in mixed media pieces are actually PVA glue and marble paste or even things like talc, plaster of paris, joint compound etc. No longer will I spend tons of money on these things. I make my own gel mediums and gessos. I am trying now to find out what the heck R&F does to the clear gesso other than adding pigment to it to make it work with wax medium.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read that white tempera paint works well ....
    any thoughts? Have not tried it

    ReplyDelete