Extra opaque gesso March 29, 2016
My recent obsession with art journaling hasn’t faded; rather, it has evolved and continued to take shape. Currently, my favorite kind of journaling is to repurpose magazines and catalogs. My favorites are Columbia Magazine (the Knights of Columbus official magazine) and the Ignatius Publishing seasonal catalogs. They are fun for me to use because I read them as I go, and use some of the content as background and prompts. Since they are favorites of mine to read, naturally they provide material that resonates with me as a starter for journaling.
I will say that my style of journaling is very eclectic; some of it is art journaling in the more typical sense, but a lot of my “art” journaling is really more of a decorative or inspirational backdrop for reflective written journaling. I feel that if I can’t grow in the process, I don’t really see much point in keeping a journal, and writing is just as important to me as art for that process.
What this style of journaling means in practice is that I have a lot of text I want to cover up, so that a word or phrase or picture that speaks to me might stand out, leaving me with space to fill with my own content. As a result, I’ve gone through a LOT of gesso, layering and experimenting. Unfortunately, gesso can be expensive. I’ve learned that some brands give better coverage than others, but at the expense of texture and cost. So I’ve been on a quest to find an ideal recipe for an extra low cost, high opacity gesso that I can make. After much research and experimenting, I’ve come up with a recipe that delights me. An additional benefit to this recipe is that it covers oil based ink that resists the other gessos I have tried.
In order to make this with maximum savings, I recommend keeping your eyes open at local home improvement stores for paint samples. Often they will have discarded color samples that they will sell for as little as $.50 a cup. The other thing I recommend is buying white glue in bulk if you intend to make your own gesso. While you can get a very good price on white glue at your dollar store, it will be washable school glue and may be less water resistant than Elmer’s Glue All or a similar permanent white (PVA) glue. I am including affiliate links to products I used.
3 parts water
3 parts paint (I recommend Behr paint with the primer built in for maximum opacity. Any color will work, if
coverage is your main concern. I am not linking this, as you can get a better price at your local Home Depot store)
4 parts white (PVA) glue
6 parts plaster of paris (Can be reduced to 5 parts if less tooth is desired. If you also make chalk paint, you might want to consider getting a larger package, but unless you are using a lot of the stuff, the 8 lb package should last you a long time.)
Measure plaster of paris into container, being careful not to inhale dust. A dust mask or respirator is recommended. Add water, and stir gently until lumps are dissolved and mixture is even and smooth. Add glue and stir thoroughly. Add paint and stir thoroughly.
If you like the results and want to have multiple colors, repeat the process with another color.