Until the 14th century, manuscript miniatures were painted mainly using glair, made from egg white. It was used as a glossing or waterproofing agent in the paints. In my calligraphy studio, I use glair to reconstitute Cennini Gesso, to dilute Liquid Gesso (J. Tresser’s), and as a binder for gouache or powdered pigment.
- Crack eggs (4), strain off white by toggling yoke between shell halves leaving whites in mixing bowl
- Put yolks in a separate bowl, set aside for some other use.
- Beat egg whites to stiff peaks – like a merengue.
- Tip mixing bowl on its side and let drip into another bowl overnight – (or let it settle in original bowl).
- Pitch foam and reserve liquid.
- After about 12 hours, strain (get rid of unwanted stringiness.)
- It can be used 2 ways. Try both!
- Full Strength
- Dilute with glair/water > 50/50
8. Save capped for 1-2+ yrs (stays clear). Date the container. Restrain after it sits for awhile
TIPS: • Stinky if stored room temperature. That’s okay. Traditionally called ‘la putrido’.
• Preserve in refrigerator or out. (lasts longer in the frig).
• For certain gilding purposes, glair must be aged. As glair ages, it becomes an adhesive.
• Glair becomes waterproof in 24 hours
ADD GLAIR TO:
Titanium Dioxide Liquid Gesso – 1-2 drops should do it, but you can thin liquid gesso with glair to the consistency needed. Fresh glair is fine.
Cennini Gesso – Holly’s measurement to reconstitute powder > 1/8 tsp powdered gesso to 15 drops glair. 6-9 month (aged) glair is best for this recipe.
Dried Pigment or Gouache– Add 1-2 drops full strength or diluted to dry pigment or gouache. Clove oil or honey can be added to make colors richer/shinier.
**Glair, a natural product can be added to a variety of art mediums