Eco-friendly and natural non toxic vegan Gesso

Article number: 149
Availability: In stock (22)
Delivery time: NL and BE 1-2 days - Rest of Europe 2-6 days

Natural Earth Paint eco-friendly and vegan gesso for artists

The natural non-toxic gesso is a professional, archival-quality kit that is perfect for earth and health-conscious artists.

This Kit Contains:

  • 900 gr. of premium, artist-grade powdered limestone
  • Two packets of methyl cellulose glue: a natural, plant-based glue (ca 1,8 gram)
  • mixing instructions

The full kit makes 1,5 litre Gesso, which is enough to prime about 10-15 medium-sized canvasses. It depends on the size of the canvas if you can prime more or less.

Directions: mix as much gesso as needed for each session. Once mixed, store in an airtight container at room temperature. Shelf-life is 2-3 months.

The History of Artist Primers
Historically, artists primed their painting surfaces with animal hide glues such as rabbit skin glue. Besides being hard on the rabbit population, these primers tend to be brittle and susceptible to cracking. With the invention of plastics in the early 1900s, petroleum-based, acrylic gesso became the most commonly used artist primer among artists. Acrylic gesso contains ammonia and formaldehyde as preservatives, which is why many professors at art schools recommend wearing a respirator when you prime your canvasses. 

What is Methyl Cellulose?
Methyl Cellulose is polymer derived from plant fibers and is a vegan alternative to animal glues. It is naturally archival. It is also widely used in foods and cosmetics, and it is non-allergenic.

Why is the gesso not pre-mixed and in liquid form?
Once these ingredients are mixed, they have a limited shelf life in a container. Natural Earth Paint has not discovered a non-toxic preservative that worksyet, and they refuse to use common petroluem based preservatives to extend the shelf life. By mixing it yourself you are eliminating the need for any additional toxins or preservatives.

Ingredients: Made with French marble dust, limestone powder, titanium dioxide pigment and plant-based binders (Methyl Cellulose), this gesso is superb quality, 100% non-toxic and vegan

You can also use Gesso on wood. Wood absorbs less than canvas. Our Gesso therefore works even more efficiently on wood.

Q & A
Q: Since the gesso kit is an alternative to rabbit skin glue, can you apply the eco friendly gesso and then put a traditional oil primer over it or do you use the eco friendly gesso and then paint directly over it with oils? Thanks     
A: You can just paint directly on our eco gesso. And you can also add a traditional oil primer over it if you prefer that surface. Both work
Q: Do you need to apply a sizing medium before applying the gesso onto the raw fabric? Do you sell sizing medium for this purpose? Can I use it without the gesso? What are your tips for best results for smoothness (not mottled, cracking or uneven surface)
A: Yes, for our gesso kit we suggest that you apply a layer of methyl cellulose glue directly to the raw canvas, let it dry and then apply a few coats of the gesso (which has more methyl cellulose in it). That all comes in the kit. You can also buy extra methyl cellulose packets on or website if you like. You can also just use the methyl celllose as a primer (we suggest several layers) and skip the gesso, but your canvas will likely be more absorbent.
Q: I have several canvases that I've purchased that I would like to use up. Is it possible to paint over them with your gesso
A: Yes, absolutely!
Q: Traditional gesso made with RSG (rabbit skin glue) is best for wood or other rigid panels, but the gesso is too brittle for canvas supports. The description on your site says the gesso can cover 15-20 medium canvases- so that's where the question came up for me- can it be used on canvases unlike the RSG mixture?
A: yes, the methyl cellulose (the plant based glue) is flexible unlike RSG, so it can be used on canvas.
Q: I was wondering about your gesso. Is it clear? Does one add some pigment to it to get a black or white gesso?
A: The gesso is white. It already has white pigment in it so no need to add anything.
Q: If you wanted black gesso could you add black pigment to it? I have been watching Bob Ross videos and he uses alot of black gesso in his paintings.
A: Our gesso has quite a bit of titanium dioxide pigment in it so if you mixed black pigment to it, I'm afraid it would make a grey gesso. 
Q: I am very curious about using your gesso kit to make my own gesso. I have been reading about oil paints on acrylic gesso and some claims that acrylic gesso will make oil paints peel after a few decades and some claims that it's nonsense. How does your gesso work with oil paints chemically?
A: Our gesso works great with oils. It's not an impenetrable layer like the acrylic gessos which are solid plastic (so nothing can get through and paint just sits on top of the acrylic gesso.) Our natural gesso is more traditional and a little more absorbant of the paint but I find that it makes the painting more archival as the paint bonds to the gesso better.
Q: When using your gesso, do I still need to sand each layer of it and sand it too?
A: No, not necessary
Q: Would this Gesso work for traditional egg tempera medium for iconography.
A: Yes, absolutely!
Q: Is there a way to make clear gesso with your products? 
A: Yes, you can just use the Methyl cellulose and paint several coats letting each one dry in between. This is a plant-based glue and is not very strong so it's not like impenetrable plastic like clear acrylic gesso is. But the Old MAsters preferred a more absorbent gesso because the paint bonded more with the gesso instead of sitting on top. You can also use our Natural acrylic medium as well.
Q: Hello, I’m finding that even days after it is out down on a surface, the gesso I’ve nade from your kit is chalk-like and rubs off in little crumbs. Do you have any advice for me?
A:  That's a sign that there's not enough Methyl Cellulose glue in the mix. That's the glue that keeps it all together. For the ones you've already gessoed, you can brush on one more layer of the clear M.C. on top and let dry overnight. For any new canvases or panels, be sure to brush on a layer of the glue first, let dry, then when you mix up the gesso mix, add one or two more tablespoons of the Methyl cellulose glue to the mix then it calls for.
This gesso is definitely not like acrylic gesso, which is 100% petroleum based plastic, so it's completely impenetrable and water-resistant. This is more absorbent (since it's natural) and the paint actually absorbs slightly into the gesso, which the Old Masters really liked because it made the painting surface stronger and less likely to chip or crack.
Hope that helps, let me know if not!
Q: Four months ago I mixed up a quart of methylcellulose for gesso. It's been stored in a closet. Today I took it out to mix gesso and it has what I assume is mold growing in it - dark areas that weren't there previously. Your information indicated this should be good for at least a year. I'll have to throw this batch out. But now I'm worried about using it for gesso. Will gesso prepared with MC eventually develop mold? I've been disabled by past exposure to toxic indoor molds and can't be exposed to any mold.
A: I'm so sorry for your frustration. That's the first I've heard of the methyl cellulose molding so quickly. It usually lasts atleast a year. We don't add toxic preservatives to our products to keep them completely non-toxic. And no, there is no danger of the painting eventually molding when using methyl cellulose. If you use good methyl cellulose (with no mold) on a canvas and then it dries - it is permanently good - it won't mold after that. I would be hesitant to use that jar that has mold in it though. I believe our instructions says it stays good for a year if not contaminated and kept at room temperature. Could it have been contaminated? Was the lid on tight? I can send you a 50% coupon code for another packet of methyl cellulose if that helps. Let me know.
Q: I have been reading that all hardbord must be sealed prior to use. Typically this is done with Shellac or other toxic sealers that I can't use due to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Can thinned methyl cellulose glue be used to seal the Ampersand Hardbord prior to using the Eco Gesso?
A: Yes, you can use methyl cellulose on the hardboard prior to the gesso. If you're not vegetarian, you can also use rabbit skin glue, which is a little stronger than methyl cellulose. But the methyl cellulose will work as well.
Q: I was wondering if it is possible to paint with oils directly over the methyl cellulose glue... using it like a ground. I normally paint on the Ampersand Gessobord panels, but dislike the slight stucco-like texture. I am thinking of switching to the Claybord which is smooth, but highly absorbent, so I thought I could seal it with the glue and then paint directly with the oils. What do you think? Either that or I was thinking of using the Ampersand Hardbord panels and getting your Eco Gesso Kit to make my own smooth, non-absorbent surface. How easy is it to use?... my preference is to do as little prep work as possible :-)
A: yes, the methyl cellulose and gesso do take some prep time, since they come in powder form to avoid having to use preservatives. But considering your sensitivities I think it would be worth your time :)
Q: Can I thin out your glue with more water so that I can use it with a brush and thin paper?
A: Yes
Q: I have your vegan gesso and I am painting with your pigments mixed with linseed oil. I have a lot of white areas in my paintings, and by the time I am done I usually have a few small areas where I accidentally contaminated the white ares with a bit of the colored oil paint. By small areas I mean about the size of a finger nail, and very little paint (I paint in very thin layers). My question is, would it be possible to cover these areas with a little bit of gesso rather than the white oil paint? It would save me a lot of time because doing touch-ups with oils takes so long to dry and it takes several layers to cover the contaminated areas. Also, once I have covered them, they are a different white than the rest of the white areas, which are just gesso white.  This idea just occurred to me but I don't know if it is wise to layer gesso over oil.
A: Good question. Your intuition is right, and unfortunately you don't want to paint water-based gesso on top of oil paint. It would be best to just use the white oil paint to cover other oil paint layers.

Q: How long is the gesso good for once mixed? What about the expiration for the methyl cellulose?


Q: I would like to know if the gesso(kit) you sell can be used on paper, board and cardboard.

A: Yes, the gesso can be used on cardboard or thick, artist quality paper (not printer paper).

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