[06] Gesso Instructions



  • 1 part calcium carbonate (aka marble dust, limestone or whiting)
  • 2 parts calcium sulfate (aka gypsum or pottery plaster)


  • 6 parts water
  • 1 part rabbit skin or animal hyde glue (approximately, but follow proportions on your package)

To cover 10 medium boards, I use this formula:

  • 3 tablespoons powdered rabbit skin glue
  • 2 cups water

Mix glue and water and let  combine over low, indirect heat.  Apply a coat of glue to boards and let dry.  Remove all but one cup of glue from heat and store for later use.  In remaining cup of glue, sift in:

  • 2 cups POWDER (see above)

Once powder settles, gently stir. You’re looking for a watery consistency if you plan to apply in many coats with sanding in between.  Pancake consistency if you want one coat.  But, bubbles may be a problem.  Adjust consistency using reserve glue stock if needed.  Be cautious to replenish water if it significantly steams away.

I have a 10-board gesso kit available in the online store.

NOTE:  Before applying gesso to your board, seal all sides of the board with a coat of the hyde glue mixture.  This is referred to as “sizing” and will help control moisture absorption.  This bit is left out of the video.

Follow directions on this video:



  1. I watched your program for the first time tonight. I was wondering where you buy the animal hyde glue, calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate? Thanks.

    • Kathleen, sorry, I missed this comment! The animal hyde glue or rabbit skin glue can be found in most high-end art supply stores online. I purchased my last batch at uTrecht. I also sell it in my online shop http://www.delgadoarts.bigcartel.com/product/1lb-rabbit-skin-glue 1lb/$12.95+shipping. The calcium carbonate & calcium sulfate are much harder to find in smaller quantities. I buy a 50lb bag once ever couple of years from our local pottery supplies store, New Mexico Clay http://nmclay.com/ .

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