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MITRA Forum Question Details

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    Question asked 2019-02-10 05:29:14 ... Most recent comment 2019-02-10 15:12:52
    Grounds / Priming

    ​I am looking into using a gesso consisting of French marble dust, limestone powder, titanium dioxide pigment and plant-based binders (Methyl Cellulose).  Or one with just the limestone and methyl cellulose. (I am unsure of the ratios because the powders come premixed)

    I have a few questions:

    Are there any conserns to consider about any of the ingredients, soaking up, cracking, archival etc.?

    Does anyone have experience using a type of alternative gesso like these?

    The gesso will be used as a ground and primer for streched linen canvases, applying 2-3 coasts. 

    Reason for this type of ground: looking for a nontoxic enviro friendly option. An alternatve to acrylic, PVA or rabbit hide options.  

    thank you in advance for your time

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Your alternative recipe would still share the limitations of a traditional chalk gesso, which is only recommended for inflexible supports like panel, and never for stretched canvas as it is far too brittle. Better might be to try using sodium carboxy-methylcellulose  (CMC) as a size directly on the canvas and then use a lean oil ground on top. You might need to experiment with the number of coats you apply to the canvas, and the ratio of the methyl cellulose to water (an 8% solution is a good starting point). CMC is used as a sizing in the textile industry, as well as papermaking, and while often mentioned as an alternative size for people wanting to avoid animal products (as well as PVA/acrylic). I am not aware of long-term studies or conservation research around the use of CMC as a size for oil paintings, so it might still need to be considered experimental, but the conservators on MITRA might be able to chime in on that.

    Sarah Sands, Senior Technical Specialist, Golden Artist Colors
    2019-02-10 09:47:40
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​I agree with Sarah, I can imagine this material proving adequate as a panel sizing but formulating a "gesso" with an experimental binder would require significant testing. I did locate a blog post by an artist who seems to have tried something similar to what you are proposing:

    Also, a company called "Natural Earth Paint" (mentioned in the above-linked post) apparently sells a ready-mixed cellulose gesso. Maybe you can reach out to these resources and ask if they can share any detals of formulation.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2019-02-10 15:12:52

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