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.

11 thoughts on “My Homemade Gesso Recipe

  1. wow. Never thought of making my own gesso.I buy Mont Marte here in New Zealand. Its white and costs $8 for a 500ml jar. I think that is good. (and yes its the cheap stuff but works the same as the expensive stuff – believe me I've tried both)- Mont Marte is an Australian brand.

  2. Any reason you couldn't make a version with wheat paste glue instead of pva or white glue? I've heard that it stands up nicely to them when used as a glue. Even cheaper…

  3. I used your recipe, except I mixed white glue, water and white flour. Then I added some white acrylic paint and some acrylic medium and painted it over papier mache. It worked like magic! Thanks for the idea!

  4. yay! this is awesome! what a lot of money you have saved me. i;m just about out of gesso, so will try this soon. i wonder how it would work for making black gesso…i suppose i could just substitute black paint for the white.

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