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Making gesso, part 2

Note: I’ve kept this post here for archival pur­poses, but deleted the con­tent because I’ve con­sol­i­dated it, with the other post on the topic, into a sin­gle arti­cle. Please go read it.

You can find it here.

Posted in art materials, oil painting, painting, tempera.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , .

7 Responses

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  1. Mario Jaramillo says

    David Wrote:

    Brush the glue over the front, back, and sides of the panel. Give it a half hour to dry.

    I gen­er­ally add more lay­ers of glue to the back. The rea­son is that the glue in the gesso on the front will be apply­ing force to the panel. If the panel is large, this will notice­ably warp the panel. So I gen­er­ally add about four lay­ers of glue to the back in order to coun­ter­act the warp­ing effect that the gesso will apply to the front. This seems to help a lot.”

    Hey David great post!

    I was won­der­ing after let­ting the Siz­ing (front n back) dry, do i add four lay­ers of Glue to the back, let­ting each layer(on the back only) dry before apply­ing the next?

    –That would prob­a­bly warp it right?

    Or after the Siz­ing do i add a layer of Glue (to the back) after apply­ing the First layer of Gesso to the front(and let­ting that dry first)??

    so every layer of gesso on the front i would need to apply glue after to the back, untill ive reached four lay­ers (aside from the layer applyed in SIZING?)

    Then Repeat… TIMES X4?

    Also how much Glue will i need to Gesso a ((10-FEET X 10-INCH)) sugar pine panel? about two cups or will one do it? i would prob­a­bly be putting 8 layers.

    Thanks alot for your help man, i really appre­ci­ate it! i tryed this last time & it was really good gesso, but my all my boards warped really bad.. I’ve e-mailed other artists but none have got back to me… THANKS again for the help.


  2. David Rourke says


    Siz­ing” is another word for “hide glue.” I have not found it nec­es­sary to alter­nate lay­ers, but instead just put some lay­ers of glue on the back prior to ges­so­ing the front. Your mileage may vary.

    A 10 foot by 10 inch panel? Not sure. My guess is that one cup would not suf­fice. With a panel that nar­row, you’re going to need to do some kind of brac­ing or cradling to avoid warping.

  3. Mario Jaramillo says

    Hey David, thanks for get­ting back to me so quick!

    Ok so put four lay­ers of glue to the backs first? Do I let each layer dry for 30 min­utes first ? wouldn’t the boards bow after putting four lay­ers, or will the gesso fix (coun­ter­act) that?

    So about two cups? i wont be ges­so­ing the whole 11X11 panel, i will be cut­ting them up smaller like 6inch X 12inch(some larger)
    but my total amount of wood is 10 feet.

    By nar­row do you mean long? cause my board are about an inch thick(normal plank) Thanks again for your time & expertise!!


    • David says


      The glue in the gesso and the glue on the back do the same thing, in dif­fer­ent direc­tions. Let each layer become dry to the touch before apply­ing the next. Some peo­ple just put the same num­ber of lay­ers of gesso on the back as on the front. If you have trou­ble with warp­ing, you might find that to be a sim­pler solu­tion, since you don’t have to make guesses about how many glue lay­ers will coun­ter­act how many gesso layers.

      Since glue is cheap, I tend to just guess how much I might need and make a bit more than that. I’ve never mea­sured how much glue cov­ers how many pan­els, so I can’t quite help you there.

      It sounded like you were mak­ing one very long nar­row panel. Instead, you are cut­ting that up, which makes more sense.

  4. Mario says

    Ok David thanks for the help, take care!

  5. Mario says

    Hey David whats the best var­nish to buy for water­color on gesso? or is there a recipe?


    • David Rourke says


      I’m afraid I have no exper­tise with water­color var­nishes. I’m sure with some care­ful inter­net search­ing, you can find bet­ter answers than I could give you.

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