Friday, 6 January 2012

Day Two: gesso panels for tempera painting

In order to paint icons I have to make panels, so after much delay and excuses I got to it today. To make gesso panels is a very ancient craft, as ancient as icon painting I guess. The materials are very low tech, it's wooden panels, muslin,  rabbit skin glue (my cat is constantly trying to put her nose in it) and some whiting. What makes panel making into a dreadful chore is concentration and time. It is non-stop work for about 6-8 hours. I manage to get a cup of tea and a sandwich, that is about it for breaks.

First the gesso is made by adding whiting to melted glue, then this has to be stirred in fashion that leaves no air bubbles in the mixture. After the gesso is applied in 15 thin layers on to the panel with drying time inbetween. I made 14 panels so it was pretty busy. This is second step in the process, after they are dried I have yet to sand but that is not so laborious. The kitchen was a mess but I am very happy with my achievement for today. Not so arty but very necessary for my future projects!

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