Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gesso

Today's tip...don't make gesso when you're tired. Unless you're like me where you absolutely have to because that's how you make your living. In that case, go s-l-o-w. Gesso making - in fact, all steps in traditional water gilding - are based upon certain concepts of balance. Balance of whiting to RSG (rabbit skin glue...yeah, I know), proportions in the RSG mixture - a 10% rule of thumb of which no one can seem to agree on how to determine 10%, but we'll save that for another time.

And what happens if materials are not in balance? The system breaks down. Gesso may delaminate from the wood surface, perhaps not until you've laid down the expensive 23k gold leaf and you're now just applying pressure from the burnisher only to find everything is coming off the surface. Very disheartening. But that kind of thing usually only happens once because you learn real quick.

So, if you're tired, it's easy to make mistakes, especially when weighing materials on a gram scale and other materials by metric volume. Just go slow and triple check yourself if necessary. Or better yet, wait until you're awake.

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