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Old 10-04-10, 05:21 PM
VK VK is offline
(Ramesh Vyaghrapuri)
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 53
Default Uses of glair

I recently made some glair to avoid wasting all the egg whites. I tested it out on watercolor paper and find that I really like the handling, how nice the darks look and the surface finish on drying. Here is the sketch. I have some questions about glair (have looked through the forum but quite possibly some of these are answered elsewhere -- if so, apologies!) that I am hoping someone here can answer.

1. How compatible is glair on watercolor paper (like its absorbency more than vellum, seems like most references here are to manuscript writing on vellum but hopefully, it wont destroy the paper).

2. Can I use it to seal the watercolor paper for egg tempera on top? I was worried about the adhesion of ET on a slick glair surface but a test paper doesnt seem to indicate this problem..

3. Can I use glair to varnish watercolors? It looks like this deepens the colors quite nicely making the watercolors bright.

Thanks for looking and any answers. I am hooked on glair, will use it for prep work..
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Old 12-04-10, 11:48 PM
Posts: n/a

I've made and used glair, but only as a drawing ink on watercolor paper, not to make a complete painting. For what I've used it for, it's worked great - and seems much more flexible than I was imagining. You've asked some very interesting questions, hopefully someone more knowledgeable will be along to answer them for us!
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Old 13-04-10, 06:16 PM
VK VK is offline
(Ramesh Vyaghrapuri)
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 53

Well, I did some research in the last few days and found that egg whites were used extensively for the albumen photography process used in the 19th century and a lot of the prints made then are still stable though the print itself may have faded for other reasons. The only reported issues relevant are a) that the egg white turns yellow with time and is noticeable in the highlights and b) that it can cause cracks if handled too much (i.e. instead of leaving it framed) and c) that prints tend to curl in storage (unlike gum prints).

I think these problems should not be as bad for my purposes as I am unlikely to use even a percentage of the egg white used for egg albumen prints. I *could* fix the flexibility by adding honey or sugar but it turns out that part of the reason for the yellowing is the sugar content in the egg-white. Strangely, it has also been reported that acidity reduces yellowing (this by so I could add some citric acid to the egg white but I think I will just avoid using the egg white too thickly (instead adding some marbledust when I want body).

Here is a finished work I did recently with glair on watercolor paper.

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Old 16-04-10, 06:13 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 417

Historical Trivia: Battery hens (i.e. chicken factory farms) were invented to provide the massive number of eggs required for albumen photography prints in the mid-nineteenth century.

The yolks were generally thrown away. There were entire cookbooks devoted to recipes to try to use up the surplus egg yolks.

Lovely work, by the way, VK, very atmospheric.
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