Question asked 2019-03-21 13:40:15 ...
Most recent comment 2019-03-21 18:35:14
I am working on some
definitions; the definiton I am working on right now is glair.
My first step is reference
books and then I go to primary sources whenever possible. My resources, older
reference books, state that glair is used for bookbinding, gilding, and painting
watercolors on parchment. I talked with one bookbinder and he gave me his
recipe for preparing glair and said it was used most for tooling and gilding
simultaneously. He said that he used a “bone folder” (non-metal) for folding vinegar
and skim milk into frothy egg whites that had set. However when I tried to
verify with other book binders no one had heard of it. Is my first source
reliable? Is the term bone folder in common use?
I also contacted
artists working on parchment. Only one had heard of glair and she didn’t know
if it was still in use. She later said that one of her colleagues uses glair
with dry pigments when painting and gilding on parchment but she didn’t know if
he made his own glair or bought the commercial variety. Does anyone know the
pros and cons of handmade glair vs. commercial glair?
Thank you in advance
for your help.
Answers and Comments
That basic formula does appear in historical texts, at least essentially those ingredients. There are several recipes listed here: https://books.google.com/books?id=MQohAQAAMAAJ
and additional recipes here: https://archive.org/details/FormulasForBookbinders/page/n13
My "painting techniques" instructor, a knowledgeable tempera painter, warned against experimenting with glair, due to concerns that the resulting paint might be brittle and detach. I don't have any hands-on experience with this material in gilding or binding.
A bone folder is a common tool in bookbinding and fine stationery, useful where clay coatings and painted surfaces might pick up indelible marks from metal tools. (Literally for folding and creasing signatures of paper, envelope flaps and folded cards. ) In this case, it's probably used because it's less reactive with acids. Unless I'm missing something, I think a glass or plastic tool would be just as good.
Thanks Matthew, I was teaching all day and am only now able
to comment. The term usually refers to a binder extracted from egg white. The
white is beaten to a froth and allowed to sit for a while the liquid that
exudes from this is collected and called glair. Glair was more commonly used as
a binder for illumination on parchment. It was also as an additional binder in
water gilding where it supplemented the glue already in the ground and bole. It
is a weaker binder than egg yolk and is probably best avoided outside of the
above. As a side issue, some painters used glair as a temporary varnish applied
before the work could receive a more permanent varnish. Very often this layer
was not removed and it can be seen as a grayish turbid and generally insoluble
coating. In short, this is not advised.
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