Making Glair (Egg-white Binder)
for making watercolor paint.
This binder makes transparent watercolors or gold-leaf adhesive. It’s a protein, so is water-soluble only while wet; fairly permanent when dry.
- 1 egg white
- Small deep bowl
- Lidded container
- Clove oil*
- Soapy water for dirty brushes
- Paper towels for cleanup
- Small trash bag
- Art brushes
- Gum Arabic*
- Practice paper
- Paper, parchment, etc. to paint on
- Separate white from yolk, remove opaque ‘eye’ thread.
- Whisk white to stiff peaks like making a meringue
- Cover bowl loosely to keep dust-free and set overnight.
- Next day, scrape off foam and feed to the dog or toss it
- Pour liquid into container, add drop of clove oil if desired.
- Add about 1:1 glair and gum Arabic
- Mix with pigments as with making egg tempera.
- Glair will keep 1 week in refrigerator if well sealed.
- Once old glair gets moldy, it’s not good for art, so toss it out.
Gouache (Opaque Watercolor)
This recipe creates watercolor paint with white filler‡
- Mix 1 part whiting‡ to 6 parts pigment.
- Adjust for depth of opacity as desired.
- Some artists like a semi-opaque paint. Go for it!
‡ chalk*, kaolin* or titanium dioxide*
* Item sold by Ancient Earth Pigments
Image: Red capital “N” with green and russet watercolor edging, from unknown Medieval
manuscript. Note that the capital letter is “inhabited” by a monk-like scribe or artist.