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Friday’s Tutorial: Gesso Embellishments

6pokeholesandpaintflower.JPGToday marks day 5 and the final day of our week of tutorials to celebrate ScrapScene’s 2nd birthday. I hope you enjoyed these techniques as much I have enjoyed demonstrating them. Perhaps you have found some inspiration!

To see our past tutorials, please click the following links: Woodgraining for Scrapbookers, Easy Stencils for Scrapbooking, Masking and Polka dots, and Packing Tape Transfers.

Today’s tutorial is such a fun technique and I am so excited to share it with you! The possibilities from this idea are countless. Basically you1gesso.JPG are using gesso to create 3D embellishments for your layouts or art projects. If you’ve never worked with gesso before, you will no doubt be pleasantly surprised at this medium. You can find it for sale at your local art supply store. Gesso is often used as a primer for canvases prior to painting with acrylic or oils. Make sure you work with it in a well-ventilated area as it is very strong smelling! Take a look at the examples shown in this tutorial. We will talk about making flowers, swirly designs and raised lettering.


Gesso (you can get it in a tube, like shown above, or a much larger tub)

Steps (Flowers)

2mixinbaggie.JPG1. Set some gesso aside to air dry for awhile. Until it becomes somewhat spongy, but not too wet. You will have to experiment with the consistency.

2. Put this gesso into a baggie. You can choose to add a bit of paint to it if you like. I mixed in some pink paint with the gesso, by squishing it with my hands right in the baggie. Photo at left. (This mixture was used to create the flowers in both projects pictured here.)

3slithole.JPG3. Using scissors, cut a tiny hole in one corner of the baggie. This will end up working much like a cake decorator’s bag. You can even use one of these along with the metal tips if you like, but make sure they become dedicated tools i.e. don’t use them for food after this project! (I have used this in the past, but found it more of a hassle for clean up – much easier to toss out a baggie after use! Although the decorator tips are fun to play with.)

5likeicing.JPG4. Twist the bag around so that all the gesso/paint mixture is pushed down to the corner where the hole is.

5. It will take a bit of practice, but you can now ‘draw’ with your mixture right onto your artwork. When it dries, it will be stuck on. If you prefer, you can make your creation on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and then transfer it to your project when it is completed.blueflower.JPG

6. To make flowers, push out the gesso into the shape of petals, one at a time. You will notice it is sticky, so you’ll have to make it stop flowing out carefully. When all your petals are made, you can add the flower centre by squeezing out a dot. If you are a cake decorator, I’m sure you will do a much better job than I!

6. Let it dry, then you can paint it with watered down paint or leave it as is. You can also poke holes in the centre of the flower to mimic a real flower if you like.

alteredbook1.JPGSteps (Swirly Designs)

1. Put gesso straight out of the container into a baggie as instructed above. Again, you can choose to mix it with a little paint, or as I’ve done in this altered book example is leave it plain white. Note, the surface of the altered book was covered in a coat of gesso also.

2. Use the tip of the baggie to draw your designs directly onto the surface. For the altered book, I outlined the oval window and also swirled some designs down at the bottom of the front cover.

3. Let this dry and then you can paint or rub ink directly over the raised designs.



– If you are getting air bubbles when ‘drawing,’ move the mixture down closer to the hole with your fingers.alteredbook3.JPG

– If you let your gesso sit to dry in the air a bit before using it or mixing it with paint, you will find it will thicken and you may have a bit more control. If you find it too runny of a consistency, give this a try. The altered book shown in the photos has some swirly designs made from gesso that was not pre-dried. The flowers were made using gesso that had been partially dried.

– Once your design dries a little, you can carve into it a bit. For example, I used a needle to poke holes in the centre of my flowers.

– Another way of embellishing your gesso designs is to paint them. I prefer to use a watered down paint for this so the spongy/marshmallow look of the design is left intact. I love the texture! The flower centre on the canvas layout was painted with a watery pink. The flower on the altered book was also painted.

– Another fun idea using this technique is to spread the mixture (partially dried) like you would putty, through a stencil. You can do this with letter stencils and get a very nice look.


I have other photos of examples that I wish I could show you, but they were taken before the age of digital cameras and are long stored away… somewhere!

We would love to see if make any projects using our tutorials. Please shoot us an email at scrapscene If you enjoyed these tutorials, you may want to check out our e-book, “Scrapping Spring!” Thanks for joining us!

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One Comment

  1. Jo DeVader
    April 25th, 2008Posted | Permalink

    Is there a way to transfer a picture or wedding invite with gesso onto fabric? I saw this on T.V. but do not remember the directions. Something like copy the picture onto a transparency & then put gesso onto fabric and put transparency onto gesso and rub off. Please send directions to : [email protected]. Thanks

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