Monday, 25 July 2011

More Experiments with Texture in Gesso

I’ve been thinking about where I went wrong when trying to stamp into wet gesso the other day, and I think my main problem was applying the gesso much too thick. It’s fine to do it really thick when you’re creating texture with the pallette knife, or drawing into the surface with a stylus, but if you stamp into thick gesso, it pulls away with the stamp when you lift it, leaving an unrecognisable mess.

Today I have cut a whole lot more ATC shapes out of mounting board and painted them with a thin layer of gesso ready for decorating, so that I’ve got plenty in hand for when I need them.

08 Mounting Board ATCs Primed with Gesso

I started experimenting with some rubber stamps on one of them, to see if this is the effect I want on my frame.

09 Gesso Stamped with Rubber Stamps

I also used a bottle top, a dowel and a pointed stylus to add some extra detail to the texture. Using the same colour scheme as my blue-green test piece yesterday, here it is with the initial layer of ultramarine, applied straight from the tube and spread over the surface with my finger, and rubbed back with a damp paper towel. I’ve left more of the paint on the butterfly and other motifs.

10 Stamped Gesso with Ultramarine

Applying the cadmium yellow and Hooker’s green after sealing it with soft gel medium, I’ve tried to avoid the bits I want more blue, but allowed the colours to spread over the blue parts with the damp paper towel, so that they are slightly more blue than the rest, but not obviously so.

11 Stamped Gesso with Yellow and Green

The final stage was to apply a layer of iridescent gel medium with a brush over the whole surface, and then to rub it back vigorously with a damp paper towel. This had the effect of making the whole surface pearlised, but the motifs more so, as the texture trapped the gel. It also served to soften and blend all the colours together in a more subtle way, and brings out the texture as it reflects the light. Not sure how much the difference shows on the photos.

12 Stamped Gesso with Iridescent Gel Medium

I think this is the effect I’m going for on my frame, as the blue tones well with the butterfly. Some time ago I managed to get hold of some scraps of the material that the bridesmaids’ dresses will be made from – I wanted to carry through their colour scheme in this wedding present – and I think the rich blue and green will go quite well. I am going to make some blue paper flowers and rich green leaves to embellish the frame.

Oh, and finally, I was going to order some Rub ‘n Buff today, and found Treasure Gold instead (made by Plaid, who make the Gallery Glass I’ve used on my butterfly) – it looks a lot easier to use, being in a tub rather than a tube. I’ve ordered gold, silver and bronze, and will be interested to see if the gold shows up better on yesterday’s test pieces than the gold Perfect Pearls. I am sure it will be a useful addition to my supplies, and I’m looking forward to trying it.


  1. wow, this is really interesting! i love gesso and one of these days i will try this. thanks for sharing!

  2. Well your experiments have definitely worked because that finished piece is beautiful. I love the colours….so vibrant.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your message. I’ve been to have a nosey at your exploding boxes and they are magnificent. There’s so much work in them they put my effort to shame.

    Thanks again for stopping by
    Happy Crafting


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