Cheap Gesso-False Economy


Hi friends! Gesso has traditionally been a primer for raw canvas but recently with the popularity of mixed media it is being used a lot to create interesting textured effects in art journals and on canvas. You can see a variety of colors and textured gessos here at SimonSaysStamp and Blitsy (affiliate links in case you are in the mood to shop.)πŸ™‚ Many years ago I got a great deal on a gallon of Pro-Art economy gesso, it worked well for priming raw canvas after stretching it. You see, it used to be WAY cheaper to buy stretcher bars and stretch your own canvas back then (it still is now if you are making odd or large size canvases) but now I often use smaller standard sizes that come primed so I don’t need the gallon of thin gesso. What I wanted is gobs of luscious thick gesso to use liberally on my mixed media projects. At first I thought of adding something to my gesso to thicken it such as plaster of Paris (I have used it before to make chalk paint) but I was afraid it would harden the entire batch. So I asked my friend Clive over at Clive5art who has an awesome DIY gesso recipe on his YouTube channel (tell him Lindsay The Frugal Crafter says “Hi!”) what he thought and he says he uses calcium carbonate and the only place I could find that was the health food store and it was more expensive than just buying good gesso. So, if I couldn’t add stuff to my gesso to thicken it maybe I could take some water away….see my results in today’s video!


Not bad huh? So my tip of the day is to buy thicker gesso and if you want it thinner to prime raw canvas then pour some in a cup and add up to 30% water to thin it and use that. You have more versatility in a product and more bang for your buck. Who wants to pay for water in their paint? I don’t. I hope you found this tip useful and if you have a favorite brand of gesso let us know in the comments below!Β  Or if you plan to make some homemade gesso let me know that too (especially if you know where to find cheap calcium carbonate in the USA. I have never tried DIY gesso because I could not make it for less than I could buy it and oh yeah, I had a gallon of the cheap stuff hanging around but I am really curious about it, please let me know how yours turns out if you make it! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

15 Responses

  1. Amazon has some inexpensive calcium carbonate. Five pounds for $11.99!! That’s a very good buy!


  2. Hey Lindsay! If I’m not mistaken, calcium carbonate is the same thing as “barn lime” or “ag lime”. It is just crushed up limestone. People frequently use it in horse stalls to help cut down on ammonia odors. You should be able to buy it at any farm supply or feed store. You would probably need to make sure you ask for the powdered ag lime, as it also comes in a pelletized form. I bought a 40# bag last year at my local Tractor Supply Store for around $5 or $6. Here is a link to it on their website.

    If you google “barn lime” or “ag lime”, you should be able to read more about it and decide if it is what you need.

    Hope this helps!πŸ™‚


  3. Hi Lindsay, you could use Magnesium Silicate, commonly available and known as Baby Powder to thicken up your Gesso. I’ve made really effective texture paste with Baby Powder too. Here is the recipe, you can use Gesso instead of the white paint.

    Homemade Smooth Texture Paste

    1/4 cup Talcum Powder (I used Johnson’s Baby Powder, Make it smell good too!!)

    1 tablespoon White All purpose School Glue

    1 tablespoon White Craft Paint

    Some Water

    Instructions: Combine talcum powder, glue, white paint with disposable chopsticks (or plastic spoon) in an airtight container, adding water to get it to the consistency you are looking for. You want a nice thick texture much like toothpaste. The mixture will keep perfectly for many months.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lindsay have you tried sport supplies shops, most rec activities, baseball and football perhaps even soccer use chalk to mark lines. They use chalk to mark lanes and parameters and horse events too.


  5. in horse events that is. =)


  6. Great! i’ve subscribed


  7. Just the other day I decided to make my own gesso from a recipe that I found last year online. Cannot remember who wrote this. Calls for 1 part white glue, 2 parts water and baby powder and a “squirt’ of titanium white acrylic paint (if desired) Use baby power to get the thickness you like. Well, I made it and used some and painted over it etc. and it seems to be great. Made it nice and thick too.


  8. Where can I buy your original artwork on line? Do you have an etsy shop? Would love to but some of your cardsThanksGeorge Bolton


  9. Calcium Carbonate is the ingredient in TUMS. Maybe you could find some white generic anti acid pills and grind them up. Could you just leave the gesso open to the air to dry out. You might need to stir occasionally to prevent a film. Good luck.


  10. What is your opinion on substituting good acrylic wall paint for gesso? Might not work for use with a stencil, but you can make a textured surface with it and it’s certainly fine for sealing paper for different mixed media techniques.

    I compared the paint with some Faber Castell gesso. I got a quart of Sherman Williams extra white eggshell (the tintable sample size with a nice lid) for the same price as 3 oz of the gesso. The paint seemed a little thicker and seemed to go further.

    Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lindsay, I just did a quick Google for calcium carbonate and found several places that sell it for $2.00 per pound. Do you think that is still too expensive?


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