How to Make your own Gesso. The blog of Rachel Weaver, Artist and Designer.

How to Make Your Own Gesso

Why use Gesso?

Gesso acts as a primer and barrier, providing a tooth to trap pigment and also reducing absorption into your chosen work surface. Gesso can be applied thickly to create a textured surface, or thinned down and applied in multiple coats.

Use it to prime paper, cardboard, canvas, wood and more. Some canvases can be purchased pre-gessoed.

How to Make your own Gesso. The blog of Rachel Weaver, Artist and Designer.

You can buy white (and sometimes also black) pre-made gesso from your local art store - or save yourself some money and make your own by following the simple recipe below.


Approximately 1 cup of each, or equal parts -

  • Pigment - Acrylic Paint
  • Binder - White Glue (PVA)
  • Tooth - Talcum Powder or Calcium Carbonate (Whiting)
  • Warm Water


  1. Pour the warm water in a suitable bowl.
  2. Add in the same quantity of talcum powder, mix thoroughly.
  3. Add in the same quantity of white glue, mix thoroughly.
  4. Finally, add in the same quantity of paint (usually white, but whatever colour you like) and mix together well.
  5. Transfer to an air tight container or jar, stir again before use.
  6. Can be made thicker or thinner depending on your preferences, add more pigment for more coverage.
  7. Can be applied in coats and sanded smooth, or leave thick and textured for added interest.

How to Make your own Gesso. The blog of Rachel Weaver, Artist and Designer.

How to Make your own Gesso. The blog of Rachel Weaver, Artist and Designer.

You can purchase Calcium Carbonate, or alternatively Casting Plaster, from Jackson's Drawing Supplies

Rachel Weaver

Rachel Weaver

View posts by Rachel Weaver
Rachel began her upbringing in the tiny mining towns of Cue and Leinster where isolation provided ample room for a rapidly growing imagination. A passion for learning and the experimentation of media has led her to become a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on illustration, design, art and photography. She resides in her hometown of Geraldton, Western Australia with her partner, two dogs, two cats and billion plants.

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Shandrea Gonzalez
Shandrea Gonzalez

You keep saying, add same quantity, but failed to state same quantity as what?

Chris Goldberg
Chris Goldberg

Hi Rachel, does the PVA have to be archival and what sort of acrylic paint do you use ?


Amy Stanyon
Amy Stanyon

Hi Rachel, thanks for the recipe! I have used calcium carbonate powder, however it seems to be such a fine powder that my gesso has no “tooth” to it whatsoever… Should my powder be more coarse, or is that typical of calcium carbonate?
Many thanks, Amy 🙂

Mike Rosoft

If you want more tooth, substitute calcium carb with baking soda. That sucker will feel like 180 grit sandpaper by the time you’re done 🤣🤘
or you can add less of course or sand it down after if it’s too coarse. Lots of options. But try baking soda.


Thank you for this Rachel, very good recipe, I hope it works well on paper mache! xx

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