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Making Watercolors & Gouache Paints

Making Glair (Egg-white Binder)

This binder makes transparent watercolors or gold-leaf adhesive. It’s a protein, so is water-soluble only while wet; fairly permanent when dry.

You need:

  • 1 egg white
  • Small deep bowl
  • Pipette*
  • Whisk
  • 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

 Method:

  • 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 is “inhabited” by a monk-like scribe or artist.

 

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