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Old 08-03-09, 08:03 AM
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mona mona is offline
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Default burnishing with agate

The method Koo uses of isolating the tempera with a shellac varnish layer and finishing with oil, and the egg/oil emulsion are two very different techniques, each with their own characteristics. As with many techniques, the best way to know what egg/oil emulsion paint is like is to just try it. There is a unique texture to the paint that is difficult to describe.

Was there a link or some context you can share about the burnishing of egg tempera itself with an agate burnisher? I have not heard of this before either except in gilding, but I'm intrigued.
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Old 13-03-09, 12:07 AM
shokan shokan is offline
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Sorry about this late reply.
Mona, it was just a mention of burnishing at this site:
The relevant passage:
"After the tempera painting is completed, it can be burnished (polished) with an agate to add depth and brilliance and to increase transparency, or it can be varnished to look like an oil painting."

This may have been a misinterpretation of some description the author had read about having a burnished gold leaf layer underneath, on which tempera is glazed for added brilliance, or may really be a technique to achieve depth without gold leaf, I don't know. Worth looking into.

There was another mention of it, also just a short bit, as above. But, I can't find that site again. There was no explanation, just a mention.

I am interested in the technique that Koo Schadler uses. I think it's egg tempera--> shellac---> oil glazes, as PhilS describes it in his post in this thread. I'm going to get Koo Schadlers book.

With the very brief experience I had with egg tempera when I was at Rhode Island School of Design, something tells me that burnishing with an agate tool ($25-$50 BTW) might produce some added depth but it would also probably result in an uneven sheen when viewed at any angle, ie from rubbing in different directions and also at varying pressure and from more or less time spent burnishing in various areas.

Last edited by shokan; 13-03-09 at 01:38 AM. Reason: added
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Old 14-03-09, 05:29 PM
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mona mona is offline
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Default agate?

Thanks Shokan. I read the passage. I agree there is no way to tell for sure, but my intuitive thought is he may have been referring to how egg tempera can be 'polished' by rubbing it with a soft cloth after it is chemically dry.
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Old 15-03-09, 12:46 AM
rkersting rkersting is offline
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The only reference to burnishing I have ever seen relates to gold leaf and grounds on panels...never to the tempera surface itself which may be buffed with a soft cloth to achieve a soft sheen. Do you remember which site you saw this on?
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Old 18-03-09, 06:55 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Hello Shokan,

Regarding using an agate stone to burnish a tempera painting....eek! In my experience doing so would seriously damage the relatively delicate surface of a tempera. Agates are reserved for burnishing gold leaf applied to a gesso ground - it smoothes the surface and helps the gold look more like solid metal (versus leaf). You can very gently burnish a dry tempera with a soft rag (fine cheesecloth, silk, an old tee) to bring out its shine, but be careful not to scratch or abrade the surface.

There are many good egg oil emulsion recipes, like the ones given in the postings here. Two old time books that describe egg oil emulsions are: A.P. Laurie, The Painterís Methods and Materials. New York, Dover Publications, 1960; and Max Doerner, The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting, New York, Harcourt Brace Co., 1934. The more oil you add the more it behaves like an oil medium (more painterly, slower drying time); the less oil, the more like tempera (more linear, faster drying) so you can swing your paint toward one end of the spectrum or another.

Thanks for the reference to my book Phil! (your cut is in the mail...) I don't do an egg oil emulsion. I work up a piece with pure tempera for the first 100 (or whatever) layers, than finish off with perhaps 6 - 10 thin layers of oil, mostly just glazes, to saturate the surface and impart a bit of sfumato-esque atmosphere. So the book doesn't offer an egg oil recipe per se, but does describe my oil over tempera technique. I'm happy to answer questions about it if you have any. Good luck - and keep that agate stone away from your tempera!
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