MATERIALS FOR TRADITIONAL PANEL PREPARATION:
Rabbit-skin glue grains
Water (distilled if possible)
Natural chalk or gypsum, (filler). Optional white pigment.
Wooden panels, many woods are good, Birch, Oak, Poplar.
Ply-woods and untempered masonite are fine.
Do not use pine.
Large, flat brush (as used to paint a wall.)
Double boiler (or make shift equivalent.)
Sand paper, or finishing sander or sharp straight edge
Optional thin cotton or linen cloth to lay in under gesso
MAKING RABBIT-SKIN GLUE:
1. Soak glue grains over night (1 dry ounce of glue to 12 to 14 fluid oz. water)
2. Warm over double boiler until dissolved, DO NOT BOIL!
3. Rabbit-skin glue is a gelatin it will set like Jell-o at room temperature.
4. Re-heat by setting the glue, in its container, over boiling water which has been removed
from its heat source.
1 part liquid prepared glue + 1 to 1 ½ parts filler
1. Prepare glue as above
2. Gently sprinkle filler* into warm glue, (do not throw it in all at once!) Add until glue has
“filled-up”, amount will vary.
3. Slowly and gently stir in one direction with a paint brush until a smooth, thin cream like
consistency is reached. Vigorous stirring will create air bubbles which will transfer to the
panel and result in imperfections in the painting surface.
4. If the mixture gels reheat over double boiler, keep it as cool as possible with out letting it
gel during use to avoid bubbles.
*Optional- Filler may contain up to ¼ part pigment.
TO “GESSO” A PANEL:
1. size the panel by applying a thin layer of rabbit-skin glue, allow to dry over night. Traditionally
two size layers where applied. The first was a diluted or weak size of half strength. After the first
sizing dried a second full strength size was applied. At this point the optional step of a thin piece
of cotton or linen, saturated with rabbit-skin glue, may be glued onto the panel prior to
first coat of gesso and subsequently “gessoed into the surface”.
2. 1st coat: brush out a little patch of gesso onto the panel; rub it in with your fingers move on to next
spot repeat until you cover the panel. It will not look smooth!
3. When 1st coat looses its bright shine apply 2nd coat of gesso with charged, thin/ flat house painting
type brush in single, long strokes parallel to one side of the panel. Do not brush back and forth.
4. Apply third coat in same manner as 2nd but with the strokes at right angle to previous layer. Do not
correct any flaws just brush it on and leave it.
5. Apply successive coats, in alternating directions, as soon as previous coat looses its shine until desired
coverage is reached; usually 5 to 7 coats.
6. Should the gesso mixture gel warm it over hot water in double boiler and continue.
7. Allow to dry over night.
8. Sand or scrape smooth, polish if desired with linen cloth.