File puptcrit/puptcrit.0608, message 1

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Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2006 06:22:59 -0400
Subject: [Puptcrit] RECIPE: Talcum instead of Gesso

Hi all.
I am guidy with the wonder of a discovery. I never claim to invent anything, as most everything has been done before in one way or another but I did figure this one out tonight!

Read the STORY if you like, but the technique is here first:

Paint some PVA glue (or other adhesives to be tested) onto your surface , and immediately sprinkle or dab some talcum powder over it (or baby powder, but not the starch-based one). 
THe glue will grab onto the powder and keep only a thin layer. If you tap lightly with a finger (clean, no lumps of glue, covered in talc too), you can make the surface more even, especially if you have used a thick application of adhesive, such as for filling gaps.

It's that simple! Let dry for at least 15 minutes (until dry and room temperature to the touch), then brush off the excess talcum powder, and finish with a light rubbing with fine steel wool (triple szero is what I tried). If you don't rub with the steel wool, the final finish will have another texture, a bit more grainy.

When all is smoothed, you can either repeat the process until you reach as smooth a surface as you need, (or leave it rough!), or start painting. I tried glazes, and I tried paint straight out of the tube. Both give amazing results!
The glaze (watered-down acrylic paint) gave a very soft-wood-like result, kind of like balsa, and had a lot of depth!
The paint (undiluted) gave a harder wood result. Changing the application method and colors, one could come up wuit infinite results!
The glaze is the best approach to stgart with, since it will penetrate the talcum better and join all the layers, even some forgotten dry areas of talcum. Then one should apply the straight paint.
Once dry, the finish is strong and durable. 

To try (no time for me yet) If not too many glazes were applied, and no straight paint was added, the finish could still be porous enough for a permanent wax finish. I reccomend heating some shoe polish with a heat gun, and brushing it on, making the wax penetrate the surface, then rub with a soft lint-free rag. DEEP and as matte or glossy as you need! TEsted on my paper mache masks, looks great under stage lights.

STORY behind the Talcum powder ground...

I had trouble finding a sizing or primer that would stick to the difficult material I needed to paint (Apoxie Sculpt, see a solution in next post), and also that would accept acrylic paint over it, and also that would be totally matte (and preferably porous).

Acrylic gesso was out of the question. Thre more I use it for anything other than painting on hard wood or canvas, or as a matte white sometimes as highlights on my drawings, I am disapointed by it.
Still, I love it for the first uses.

The only coating that grabbed a minimum onto my surrace was Weldbond, a very conentrated type of much better quality PVa glue.
The only problem with it as that it is glossy, and once you stat painting on a glossy surface, you have difficulties bringing it to a matte finish without killing the colors with a matte medium.
I have NEVER found ANY truly efficient matte medium, I must have tried a dozen high quality brands.
The only way I was completely satisfied with was to start with a very matte and porous ground, which I startd to make about two years ago by mixing some joint compound and white glue (sometimes tinting with acrylic paint). Turns out a similar application has been used for centuries by the Venetian maskmakers on their paper mache masks.

Tonight I was fooling around in my head with ideas of making my own gesso, since the Liquitex (my favorite) is no good on the surface I was working on.

Talcum powder and titanium white were the only powders I had that I could think of using, and since the talcum was cheaper, I tried that one. I had tried tlacum as an additive in my paints before, but often had lump problems and the adhesion was reduced.

At first, the talcum was the obvious choice to stprinkle onto the gleu-covered surface, remove stickyness and prevent paint pulling while the puppet parts were drying next to each other, still attached to the puppets (hanging from the ceiling). 
Looking at the powdered puppet part, I realised that if the glue would hold the powder enough, it could make a ground for painting, the paint would at least grab onto this surface made matte by the talcum. And since talcum is highly absorbent of moisture, it made sense to try. My first test with a glaze on the leg of the puppet convinced me, but I reserved my full enthusiams for when thepart was dry enough to test.
The tests were very satisfactory!

I'm in love with this. I covered the entire bodies of both marionettes, even the parts that won't show. They will look like they were made entirely of wood (and screw-eyes), while in fact they were dowel and Apoxie Sculpt. I won't use the Apoxie Sculpt anymore, but will come up with the same visual results (minus the painting problem) with my favorite recipes of paper pulps or paper clays.

Questions are welcome!

Mathieu René Créaturiste
Marionnettes, Masques, Etcetera...
Puppets, Masks, Etcetera...
(514) 274-8027
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