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Indian Crafts >> Gesso
Indian Crafts - Gesso
History of Gesso

The painting is the simplest among the other crafts done on the wall and though folk in style, they nevertheless have some of the flavour of frescoes one sees in old palaces. The tradition of painting the walls of houses with scenes from mythological and chivalric tales has been prevalent in Rajasthan for the past many centuries.

An exuberant, at times almost voluptuous type of decoration done on a variety of surfaces is gesso work, known in India as munbathi when the design is fairly raised and lajwardi when in shallow relief.
Fine Art
Rajasthan has fine samples of gesso work such as in the main hall of the Bikaner palace. The camel skin bottles of Bikaner are an example of the gesso painted objects of everyday use

Andhra Pradesh produces a number of small utility items decorated with varnished gesso. In bright contrasting colours like gold and crimson flowers against a rich green, the designs usually radiats to many sides from the center.
The paint used is made from a powdered brick dust and water or plaster of Paris thinly mixed with water or chalk (mixed with glue). Powder from pulverised shells mixed with the paste of the bael fruit is also used. The gesso is usually allowed to flow from the brush to form a design on papier-mache or wooden or any other surface. In some cases even a thin brushing of the ground surface may be done over which the thicker decorations may be raised or moulded or carved by hand . The other method is dusting coloured dry starch through stencil paper onto a glued surface until the entire pattern is built up. In some paintings, instead of paint, gold leaf is applied over the entire surface with varnish. This is varied by painting a colourful design on this gold back ground. Chuman (lime work) decoration is a most complicated technique used for decorations. The designs are usually floral or arabesque diapers, a glitter being given to the surface by a wash of plaster mixed with mica. Various shapes are cut out of plaster for greater elaboration. If it is to be fixed to the wall, it is against a dark background or a glass with plaster placed over coloured foils. These glided or painted flowers are also shown against a white background.

Gesso is done by setting converse pieces of mirrors in the plaster which are first blown, then the inside covered with zinc. These are then broken and borders decorated by paint or silver foil, then arranged in arabesque patterns or in plant or flower designs. For glass mosaics in which the design is cut out of plaster or metal and behind the opening pieces are formed by coloured glass neatly arranged. When another plaster piece is placed at the back a picture of splendour emerges and dazzles when the sun shines through.In more detailed work the mirror discs are separately framed or rimmed by arabesque scrolls delicately wrought in white plaster.
Basic Material : Powdered brick dust, chalk, glue, bail fruit, brush, stencil paper, gold leaf, plaster of paris, linseed oil, grated coconut, jaggery, powdered pearl.
Decorative Material : varnish
Colouring Material : coloured dry starch

Basic Material : Pieces of mirror, zinc, paint, silver foil
Gesso painting.

utility items, gold and crimson flowers

Indian Crafts : History of Gesso