Thursday, 8 January 2009

Gauzy gesso backgrounds

Back in October 2007, I created some textured black gesso backgrounds, which I used on formica samples to make necklaces:

This is a variation on that technique, which makes a really lovely background. I usually make 3 or 4 sheets at the same time - this means the first sheet is dry enough for the next part of the process by the time I've done each thing to all 4 sheets.

First take an A4 sheet of cardstock, and old brush, some loose weave gauze or lightweight scrim (the kind that's used for bandage wrappings, I found mine on EBay), and some gesso - black or white (or even coloured) - I use Daler Rowney brand.

Cut your gauze into little random raggedy pieces - smallest about an inch by an inch and a half, largest maybe as big as 2 inches by 2 and a half or even an inch by 3 inches. Stretch them and pull them out of a shape a little, so that the edges get more raggedy, and the weave is less even.

Coat some of your cardstock with gesso - about an ATC sized peice - not too thin or too thick, just a generous coat - and drop a piece of gauze on the painted area. Use your brush to dab the gauze all over, embedding the gauze into the gesso. It doesn't matter if the gauze rucks up a little, or if an edge got folded - that's all fine. There should already be enough gesso on your brush to do this, but if you need a little more, then add it.

Repeat with the next section of the cardstock and another piece of gauze, and so on until your cardstock is all black (or white) and has gauze pieces emebdded all over it. Leave uneven open spaces between the gauze - as wide as a couple of inches in places, narrow as 1/4 inch in others. You will have something like this (click on picture to get a better view):

Now you need a stamp. It should be bold, and curly - a flourish, or perhaps something like this:

Take your gesso & gauze sheet, and again working in sections, give it another coat of gesso - this will cover any small unpainted bits you may see in the gauze, and will leave you with wet gesso in the random gaps. Stamp your stamp into the wet gesso in the gaps. The gesso doesn't need to be thick to do this - gesso is expensive, and thick gesso takes ages to dry. The end result will be fine with a thin coat. Lift, and stamp into the next gap.

Keep going until you sheet is coated with wet gesso, and all gaps have been stamped into. WASH THE STAMP. Do not let it dry with the gesso on or you may ruin it. Now you have something like this, if you used black gesso:

Or this, if you used white gesso:

Now add colour. This is a sample to show you how different colours can look on black. I used 9 colours of Treasure Gold wax, applied lightly (as if the surface was hot). The golds and pale colours show up much more than the dark colours. I let it dry for a while and then gave it all a rub with a soft cloth to bring out the shine. Click on the image for a better view.

And this is how the black sheet looks when all the rub on wax is one colour.

If you don't have any Treasure Gold or Rub'n'Buff or wax rub ons, I think you could get a similar effect by dry brshing metallic or interference acrylic paint on, or maybe even swiping the sheet with a versamark watermark pad and brushing the whole sheet with Pearl Ex, which will stick to the ink.

Finally, I sprayed my white gesso sample with a colourwash spray - in this case, Radiant Rain Emerald Isle. It's interesting how the colour disappears as it dries, here's a pic of a wet sheet next to a dry one:

Radiant Rain always looks betterif you use more than one colour, this is how the sheet looked when I'd finished it. I sprayed with Stargazer, which is a lilac ink with a green shimmer. It doesn't change the colour much but it adds to the richness. Finally, I rubbed all over the sheet lightly with Royal Amethyst Treasure Gold:


  1. I like the way this background paper looks - thanks for sharing the technique. I'm wondering now if it might be die-cut using a Cuttlebug; It probably can be embossed with the Cuttlebug ... How do you use your sheets when they're finished?
    Thank you - and happy ney year from Florida!

  2. WOW!!!!! Thanks so much for the step by step Adrienne. I'm making some journals and this may be just the technique to use for the covers!

  3. Excellent tutorial! Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a really brilliant technique -Thanks for the heads up on how to create, I love texture and this is fabulous..x

  5. That was fantastic!!!Thanks




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