The Art of Gesso Sottile; Making Gesso.

The Art of Gesso Sottile; Making Gesso.

Gesso Sottile Cakes

 The Art of making Gesso Sottile cakes; Stage One.


In this Art of making, we look at Gesso. Gesso is used as a base for canvas, linen or wood. I am explicitly talking about Gesso Sottile. Know and used by Cennino as “thin Gesso”.

What you will need.

  • Plaster of Paris
    Bucket with lid (or similar)
    Stick or long wooden spoon for stirring
    Airtight container
    Write the date you start making it on the bucket


Fill your bucket with one gallon of water.
Measure of one pound of Plaster of Paris (455 grams).
Sprinkle the Plaster of Paris over the water stirring as you add the Plaster.
IMPORTANT; Stir for 15 minutes continually. If this is not done, you risk the Plaster of Paris setting. If this happens, you will have to start again.
Stir every 15 minutes for two hours after the initial 15 minutes of stirring.
Cover the bucket to keep dust out.
Leave the mixture of Plaster of Paris and water for ONE MONTH.
Stir the mixture every day of the month (Thirty One days).

After the month is up, the mixture is ready.
Pour all the water out of the bucket, take care, and not lose the Plaster of Paris in the bottom.
Get the weighing scales. Weigh out 20g of the mixture (I just used my hands to get the mix out)
(NB. You can weigh the cakes out to whatever size you would like; however, I find 20g is a good size for making small batches of Gesso Sottile)
Form a mini cake with the Plaster of Paris and place it on a tray to dry out.
Continue this process till all the Plaster of Paris has been weighted and made into mini cakes.
Leave the mini Plaster of Paris cakes to dry out on the tray, around two days.
When they are dehydrated, pack into the airtight container.
These are now ready for you to use.

Congratulations on completing your first stage in making the Gesso Sottile.
The cakes are now ready to be added to rabbit hide glue or a gelatine solution to make the Gesso Sottile.


Have you had a go at making the Gesso? Show your work on Instagram and mention me in your post or story on @Gancarz.Art I would love to see your handcrafted Gesso Sottile.


Further Reading.

The Practise of Tempera Painting.  Materials and Methods. 1936 (Thompson, D.V) p37

The Art of InkBlots; Klecksography.

The Art of InkBlots; Klecksography.

Postcard Art - Keleckography

Klecksography. The art of making images with inkblots.


The process of klecksography uses ink placed on one half of the paper, then whilst the ink is still wet, the paper is folded in half. The paper reveals a stunning symmetrical image. The process of the human mind stimulates the viewer to see patterns or pictures from random shapes. This is known as apophenia.


Apophenia was coined, in 1958, by the psychiatrist Klaus Conradin his publication on “The Beginning stages of Schizophrenia”. The definition given was ” [The] unmotivated seeing of connections with a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness”. Apophenia is viewed as the human propensity to seeks patterns in random information.


For me, I see many images in everything from my artwork to looking at the formation on a concrete floor. My artwork feeds the need to seek out patterns and the relationship I have within the world. I also edge towards the term pareidolia. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the human perception of images. An example is to see faces within inanimate objects or artwork. It is suggested that the reasoning behind this is from the fusiform area in the brain. This area in the human brain is responsible for seeing faces, which in turn mistakenly interprets a specific configuration into some kind of perceived face.


Klecksographies dates back to the late fourteen hundreds, with both Leonardo da Vinci and Boticelli used inkblots to stimulate their imagination. The art technique was used in the eighteen-nineties as a tool to study the subconscious. Psychologist Herman Rorschach devised a test in which he used the images created with inkblots to evaluate the human’s mental state. The Rorschach Inkblot Test was born. Rorschach took his patients through a series of inkblot images and would determine the patient’s mental state with what they said they could see in each image. Fancy a go yourself? Here is an online test for you to test your own mental state. Click HERE.


Inkblotting is rather fun as a process. There is something quite endearing about making artworks using this effective yet straightforward way of making art. Artists use this for stimulating their imagination.  

I use my faithful squid ink to make my klecksography’s. I love making them; there a tiny piece of joy to behold. Shop here.

Struggling with Artists Block? Have a go making some klecksograph and see what you can see in your creation. Why not document what you see in each klecksograph. Consider drawing on top of the inkblots to create imaginative pieces of unexpected art. Have fun with it.


Made an inkblot piece of art? Show your work on Instagram and mention me in your post or story on @Gancarz.Art I would love to see your inkblot artwork.


The Tate has an interesting article on Inkblots. Click HERE to read.