My Homemade Gesso Recipe

I love Gesso and usually have Gesso (lots of Gesso) around but for some reason I have depleted my back log of Gesso and found myself in quite a bind.  I need Gesso but Gesso is really expensive but a necessary expense in the art world.  I have been out of gesso for a while (two weeks) and really need to buy some but we are on a budget and I can’t imagine spending $10.00 (that is the cheap stuff.  I want the “good” stuff – Liquitex) on a little tub of Gesso for myself.   I found a recipe from Joan of Art – she hasn’t blogged since February of last year so I‘m not she if she is still into the whole blogging thing but she has some great stuff on her blog.  Her recipe was good but not very precise so the following are my notes regarding how I made my Homemade Gesso.

I have also been asked, “Amanda, what the hell is Gesso?”


Gesso (Italian:ˈdʒɛsːo "chalk," from the Latin gypsum, from the Greek γύψος) is a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these[1]. It is used in artwork as a preparation for any number of substrates such as wood panels, canvas and sculpture as a base for paint and other materials that are applied over it.

Picture 16

A.J.’s Smile Homemade Gesso:

Couple things about this it is a little rougher than normal gesso but it does sand nicely.  Because of the baby powder it will be a little chalkier when sanding so use a fine sand paper.  Cure time is 24 hours but you can speed it up with a hair dyer or a heat gun.

  • 1 part white glue (I used cheap white glue from the Dollar Store - you can also use PVA glue or Elmer's)
  • 3 parts water (since I used the cheap white glue I should have decreased the water to 2 parts)
  • 6 parts baby powder (since I used way more water than what I should have, I used more baby powder.  I did not measure I tilted the baby powder container and squeezed - scientific I know)
  • I added some Titanium White from the an almost empty 2 oz. tube of Liquitex  (there was maybe a TBSP left in it.)

I mixed everything in a air tight container the constancy is like a pancake batter - it will settle (like normal Gesso) so you will need to mixed it before use.  Surprisingly it takes paint really well, it also sands nicely.  It also way cheaper than "real" gesso - lol.