Oil Art




Glues and Sizes


Preparation of hide glue (rabbit skin glue) solution:

This is a recipe for sizing a panel or gluing a fabric to a panel; if you want to size a canvas you'll need to dilute the solution or you can reduce the hide glue powder to 35-45 gr and still use 1 lit of distilled water. Prepare the same way as it is described down.

*hide glue (powder/granules/sheets) ---- 70-80 gr
*distilled water (room temperature) ----- 1 lit



*glass container -------------- for the solution
*bigger container ------------ for heating the solution
*cotton/linen/jute rag ------ for soft heat conduction
*wooden rod/spoon --------- for stirring the solution
*thermometer ---------------- for measuring solution temperature


If the glue comes in sheets, they must be first broken into small pieces; a cloth wrapped around it will prevent its flying about.

Place the dry glue in a wide-mouthed glass container and pour the water fig.1; if the glue comes in sheets let to soak over night, it will be found to have absorbed water and to have swollen about three times its dry volume fig.2. If the glue is as a powder it will take only couple of hours. It is recommended to cover the glass with a clear-plastic wrap, to keep away the dust.

glue before it swollen image glue after it swollen image
glue with water
before it swollen
fig. 1
glue with water
after it swollen
fig. 2

Then heat the glue in glossary icondouble boiler until the glue dissolves. Don't reach temperatures of glue higher than 70ºC. Always stir the solution; you can do it with the thermometer or with wooden rod; but be aware that it's clean and you never used it for preparing food. Cooking salt destroys the adhesive power of glue.

Glue must never boil otherwise it will loose its strength. Don't reheat it in microwave. When used keep it warm enough to make sure the glue remains completely dissolved (~60 ºC). It is better to use always a fresh solution, but you can place the glue in refrigerator for a week and reheat it when needed. But remove only as much glue as you wish to heat and dissolve in double boiler cause reheated too many times, hide glue can lose its adhesiveness.


Preparation of casein glue from powder :

Recipe from "Formulas for Painters" - Casein solution for panels

*casein powder ---------------------- 2 parts
*distilled water --------------------- 16 parts
*ammonium carbonate (salt) ----- 1 part


*glass container ------------- for the solution
*wooden rod/spoon -------- for stirring the solution


Sift the casein slowly into half of the water, stirring to get rid of the lumps. When smooth, add the ammonium carbonate and stir; allow the mixture to stand for an hour or more before you stir in the remaining water.
Directions for use: Plywood or wood panels need only sanding, most Masonite panels should be brushed liberally with alcohol and dried before applying the size. Brush the casein solution onto the panels, applying the solution to the front, back, and sides. When the size has dried thoroughly, use this same solution to make a Ground.


Recipe from "The Materials of the Artist"


*casein powder ---------------------- 40 gr
*distilled water -------------------- 250 ml
*ammonium carbonate (salt) ----- 10 gr




*glass container -------------- for the solution
*small glass container ------ for the ammonium solution
*wooden rod/spoon --------- for stirring the solution


Ammonium carbonate is dissolved in a few drops of water. The casein is first mixed with very little water, and then the rest of the moderately warm water is added.

After all the lumps have been pressed out, the solution is poured into the casein. Promptly there is effervescence; the carbonic acid escapes. After a little stirring, as soon as there is no longer any foam, the casein solution is ready.