Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gesso Magic

I have received several emails regarding what I referred to as a "gesso wash" on the frames in my last post. As you all know I love old world finishes.


Well, gesso is as old world as they come. Ancient Egyptians used it as a base for wall paintings and to coat wooden artifacts. Gesso is a thick substance, somewhere between plaster and paint.


Artist use it to prep their canvases. You can find it at artist supply or craft stores. Gesso can be any combination of binder (glue), whiting, chalk or plaster, and pigment. I used gesso on the corbel in my first pic.

I'll show you what I did to achieve this in a minute, but first a simple gesso treatment. Here are the stack of frames from my last post.


The frames were a dark gold, as was the one I'm about to use for my demonstration. The corbel was dark wood.

You can do this. Make sure the piece you're working with is clean and dry, blah, blah, blah.

I first applied a thick coat of gesso right out of the container.


Before it was completely dry, I went over it with a dry brush, to smooth it out a bit. You don't have to use a different brush, just take a dry rag and remove most of the gesso from the brush you are using.


Now, some of you may like it right at this point. If you do, you can stop. I prefer to apply a couple more layers of slightly watered down gesso to give it added body.


That's it. You can leave it with this rough plaster look, or sand it back, like I did with the corbel.


Gesso comes in white, grey and black. I applied a layer of white to the corbel. Let it dry. I then applied a layer of grey. After the second layer was dry (gesso dries pretty quick), I used a sanding pad to smooth it out, and give it a little distressing.


The frame would look good with a floral painting. Here it is propped against one.


I also laid it on one of my tole trays.


I love the soft full bodied look of gesso. You can get a fantastic finish with only a few steps. Although I prefer the dry chalky finish, you can wax or poly if you like.

Hey, if you give this treatment a try, I would love to see it. Send me a pic. Go on, create a little gesso magic.

I'll be back with more to share soon, including more gesso projects and a redesigned clock case.

I'm sharing this with:
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
White Wednesday at Faded Charm
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Inspiration Friday At The Picket Fence
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Flaunt it Friday at Chic On A Shoestring Decorating
Catch as Catch Can at My Repurposed Life
Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Nite Special
Keeping It Simple Motivate Me Monday
Dittle Dattle Amaze Me Monday
Hope Studios Tutorial Tuesday

61 comments:

Karen said...

I love this treatment Rosemary. I didn't know it was the same gesso used for priming canvass. I'm going to try this on some mirrors that I need to paint. I already have gesso, now I cant wait to try it. Thanks so much for the great tutorial.

Kirsten- The Foreign Domestic said...

Such a classic look! Very pretty!

The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

Rosemary, Rosemary, Rosemary!! LOOOOVE IT! and to think we never thought of using Gesso...for heavens sake, we used enough in art class in college :) Thanks for the tips - we are itching to get a project started tonight (if only we had that Gesso!!!!!)
Have a great & creative week!
Karla & Karrie

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I have some gesso and I am anxious to give it a try and see what kind of finish It get...Thank you!!

Carol

The Sterling Cherub said...

Who on earth would have thought of doing a gesso treatment like that? YOU did! Genius! I just love how this looks, and am now inspired to try it on something. You are amazing!

Best,

Kimberly

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

What a great idea, thanks for sharing. I can't wait to try it on some frames!

Kathleen

FABBY'S LIVING said...

I love this treatment, never would have imagin and yeah, it looks so very old world! Thanks for sharing. Hugs. FABBY

Emily said...

Wow, this is a new one to me. Your tutorial is great and I will keep this post as a reference for a stack of old gold frames I have. Your work is great. I'm so glad you popped in, I'll be your newest follower. Please visit me often.
Hope your week is great.

~Emily
The French Hutch

Amanda's Mom said...

Doh! I paint and have gesso in my studio but I never thought to use it in this manner. I'm super excited now to redo some old frames I have in the attic. This will probably be a completely 'no cost' project. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Honey at 2805 said...

I like this treatment Rosemary! Although I use gesso to prepare canvases, I've never used it like this. Thanks!

ReFresh ReStyle said...

What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing this, I never think of gesso!
Debbie

Maggie @ Midwestern {Sewing} Girl said...

Gotta tell ya...I've heard of Gesso a million times & I never knew what it was for...but now, I'm gonna try it! I love love love how you made it look on your frames...I hope I can do as well!

Susan said...

I have got to try this treatment!! Your frames look gorgeous!

poindextr said...

really nice work - I like your technique and definitely appreciate the way you explain your method. I've been thinking about trying to find a couple of small corbels to prop up a little shelf that I'd like to place over a hall doorway. I just never seem to go shopping. It will probably have to wait until Round Top this fall. Your corbels are SO pretty.

Rosie Goins said...

Hmmmm. I guess I better get out that old bottle of gesso. I love the treatment on the frames.

Thanks for stopping by Dogs and Grandkids. I am a new follower :).

Katie said...

So beautiful and creative!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

hmmmm.... I definitely think I will be borrowing (snitching) Bobby G's artist gesso and using treatment on an old frame I have. For sure! Thanks so much for the tutorial. xo

Susan said...

Oh fabulous product! Thanks so much for sharing that with us. I will give it a try.
Happy WW,
Susan

lvroftiques said...

How'd I miss this one?! Rosemary thanks for the tutorial! I love the chalky soft look of the gesso! Hmmm I'll give it a try and hope for the best. If it turns out ok I'll be sure to share it with you. Vanna

Angela said...

Wow! I've been painting so long I've never really seen the creative possibilities of gesso, other than being an base for my paint! Thanks for the ideas. I'm loving it!!!

Would you consider linking this project to my linky party Simply Creative over at 365 days 2 Simplicity? It would be perfect!

Angela
http://365days2simplicity.blogspot.com/2011/06/in-celebration-of-almost-hitting-100.html

Carolyn@SweetChaos said...

I bought a frame recently that could really benefit from your gesso treatment! I'm bookmarking this post, so I can follow the steps when I finally get around to it. Thanks for the inspiration!! Wish me luck :)

A Cottage Muse said...

Thanks for the step by step...love the white and gray combo!

The Smith Hotel said...

Nice to know! I have an obession with picture frames and I might just have to try some gesso on them now!

Jody

Sherry said...

Rosemary,
Your a doll for showing us this! I actually have some gesso I bought to prep a canvas and I haven't used it yet. I also have a corbel that I need to finish and this is PERFECT! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for putting this on here at Home Sweet Home! I will feature you next week, gesso isn't talked about as much as it should be!
Sherry

Sherrie said...

Can't wait to try this! Thank you so much for sharing your secret!

⚜ ↁℯℬℬᴵℰ⚜ said...

COOL..never heard of this. Thanks for teaching me something new.

Joselyn said...

Wow, Gesso can give inexpensive items such old world charm! Have to try this.

Miss Kitty said...

Thank you so much for sharing this technique! I love the look you achieved.

Vintage Beachgirl said...

Seems a lot of us have gesso and just never thought to use it in this application! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration and great tutorial with readers! Take care, VBg

Ispirato Design said...

Great tutorial- I have never just used gesso for a paint treatment but why not?-It looks great! You always have such beautiful pieces to work on! Keep the inspiration coming!

kristiB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kristiB said...

Wow!!! This could be The next best thing to Chalk Paint, giving this a try. Thanks so much for this great idea!!! :)

The Paupers Castle said...

Oh! Oh! Oh! Can't wait to try! Too bad I have plans for the next 3 weekends! GRRR! But you can bet this is on my list to try. Thanks for sharing. What was the ratio of paint to gesso you used to get the custom color?

Ido said...

Wow, I love this tutorial, thank you! will try it.
Have a lovely weekend!
XXX Ido

Andrea Brand . Charcoal and Crayons said...

You're a genius! I'm going to have to try this for sure. I love the finish and I think gesso is less expensive then most paints too.

Anita @ Cedar Hill Ranch said...

Love this technique Rosemary!! I want to try this. Great job, by the way.

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

Yep. Add Gesso to my list of things to get. I have several pieces that would work well with this! Thanks Rosemary!

BeatingArt said...

Hi Rosemary: sure glad i was surfing and found your site. i have worked with Gesso and have the white. i'm thinkin' i could add a drop or two of color to the white to achieve a different shade, like the gray or a pink or blue...what do you recommend? thanks for sharing.
sid
you can check my blog:
howmyartbeats.blogspot.com

Julia @ 551Eastdesign said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I haven't tried this yet but maybe soon:)

vikki said...

I am going to try this. Thanks for a great tutorial.

red.neck chic said...

I love it that you don't use the usual... this is an awesome finish - ALL of your pieces have awesome finishes!!!

;-D robelyn

Cass @ That Old House said...

This looks wonderful -- have I read the tutorial right, that you use the gesso in place of "regular" paint?
Does it stand up after waxing?
Or can you only use it on something like frames or mirrors that don't get a lot of hands-on use and wear?

I know --lotsa questions but I've got lots of furniture to paint for our beach house and would love some chalky looks but can't afford the chalky paints. Thanks!
Cass

Cass @ That Old House said...

Hahaha... my artist daughter just informed me that Gesso IS paint!
Who knew?
Cass

Heaven's Walk said...

Rosemary ~ with each post I read of yours, I find myself oohing and ahhing and frantically scribbling down supplies to pick up at the craft store! :) Your tutorial here was fantastic and soooo appreciated! I had heard of gesso before, but just never knew how to use it. Thank you, girlie!!! You are rockin' my world!! :)

xoxo laurie

Mary Anne Komar said...

May I ask what kind of wax you use? It boggles the mind to think of all the applications! Thanks

Evelyn said...

i am sooo happy i came acros your blog! Great work, great tutorials. I am now ready to start doin a few projects i didn't have the confidence to do before, like crackling paint, and now usign gesso. thank you so much!

Farmer's Wyfe said...

This is great! Your work is always so amazing. I can see why your blog has grown so fast over 6 months. Congratulations!!! :)

Barbara Jean said...

great technique. thanks!

blessings
barbara jean

Junky Vagabond said...

I have some gesso on hand from my canvasses - never would've thought to use it as a paint...duh ;) Thanks for the tips!
-Jill

Artisan Jewelry by RondaJane said...

I have clean dishes in the dishwasher, dirty dishes in the sink and clothes in the washer and dryer but here I sit. I can't seem to break away from your awesome blog. I love your beautiful creations and I love that you share your processes with your readers. Thank you. You have a new fan.

DownTheLaneWithDaisy said...

I'm on overload from all the wonderful ideas you have...and that's just fine!!!! Thanks for your generous spirit in sharing.

Sylvia said...

Hi Rosemary,

I went to Hobby Lobby today and bought two small jars of white and gray gesso! After painting a frame,shelf and mirror with the gray gesso I've decided to buy more!!! I love it!!!

Thank you for the inspiration,
Sylvia

Maureen said...

I love this! I hope you don't mind that I Pinned it.

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Help! Mama Remote... said...

Love it! I would love to do this on some flower pots outside that can use a little redo. Thanks for sharing. Would I be able to find this like at Hobby Lobby?

maiaarts said...

Daniel Smith Artist's Materials make many colors of gesso - including gold and a red. You may love them as I do. I use the gold under all my oil paintings - but this post makes me think I will now use it on my frames!

Vintage Prairie Style said...

I just posted about trying gesso and threw the credit back to you for opening my eyes to this great finish and for your excellent tutorial.
Here is a link to my post:

http://vintageprairiestyle.blogspot.ca/2012/09/trying-something-new.html

Thanks so much,
Keya

Lisette Harzing said...

I suddenly know what to do with my golden mirror frame. Thanks for sharing!

Sayuri said...

Hi Rosemary,

Ever since I read this post, I'd been wanting to try gesso.
And I finally did!!
I like what I did, I'd love for you to come on over and take a look, if you have some free time.
here's the link

http://vintagebreeze.blogspot.ca/2013/03/old-paris-frames.html

Thank you and have a great weekend!!!

BarbaraAnn said...

I am new to the party. And I love this. I was wondering if it can be applied to unfinished wood? I have a modern mirror what I was going to add some wood embelishments or shells to. But I wonder if this would cover them. Will be back again & again & again.

Barbara Ann

Michele Gonczar said...

I am a new fan! Love your creativity! You have some brilliant ideas. Thanks for sharing:)