Craft Product Review: Black Gesso by Claudine Helmuth’s Studio Line by Ranger Ink


I’ve been a big fan of Claudine Hellmuth’s white gesso for quite some time.  It is wonderfully opaque, thick and creates a great texture on your projects. I’m addicted to it for my art journaling pages and prepping the thin pages for watercolor, acrylics, etc.  (If you’re unfamiliar with gesso and its uses, check out Jenny’s “Gesso Primer” posted earlier this week.)  So, when Claudine released black gesso at this past CHA, I was thoroughly tickled.

Here’s how it’s described on the website:

Claudine Hellmuth Studio Black Gesso is ideal for priming all your art and craft surfaces including Studio Sticky-Back Canvas, boxes, journal pages and chipboard letters. Gesso adds subtle texture (called “tooth”) when applied, allowing a surface to accept paint and other mediums more easily. This quick drying, artist quality Black Gesso provides opaque coverage and remains flexible, even on fabric. Paint over the top of dry gesso with Claudine Hellmuth Studio Paints or other paints.

• Acid free, non-toxic
• Artist quality primer
• Black opaque finish
• Use on canvas, paper, chipboard, fabric and more
• Available in 4 oz. jar and 1 oz. in Mediums Mini Set

The Studio black gesso is very thick, just as the white is, and extremely opaque.  With other brands of gesso, I’ve found that you need to do multiple layers to get full coverage on your project, especially canvas and when you’re covering up “boo-boo’s.”  Not so, with the Studio by Claudine Hellmuth black gesso.

The painting above I had originally used a mixture of red alcohol inks on. I decided I didn’t like it and tried another brand of white gesso on top of it. See how it’s still pink through the one layer of the “other” gesso?  I decided to try my new Studio black gesso on it.  Guess what?  It had total coverage with the first layer.  Now that’s what I like to see.

One might ask, why black gesso? Why not just use white gesso then paint black over that?  Well, yes you can totally do that;  But you’re wasting product, in my opinion. For this painting I used the black gesso as my background and didn’t even bother painting black over it because the coverage was that good.

Another example of what great coverage this gets is one this piece of brightly colored patterned paper I put the gesso on. This was just a few simple brush strokes and look at how that totally blacks out the pattern.  Another fabulous thing about this gesso is that it isn’t too “fluid,” if that makes sense. (Ed: Note- the consistency is that of a thick paste=high viscosity.)

It is so thick and you have complete control over it.  It doesn’t pool out on your paper when you apply it.  The back of this patterned wasn’t warped or wrinkled in any way. You can’t even tell I applied gesso to the other side.

Another great medium to use gesso on is wood. By priming your wood with gesso you will conserve on other product that you put on top of the gesso layer, because the wood won’t be absorbing your precious acrylic paints or watercolors anymore.  On the photo below, I tried out three different acrylic paints to see how they would work with plain wood vs. gesso.  The first paint (turquoise) is Studio Paint by Claudine, the second (orange) is a Reeves artist acrylic and the third (purple) is a 99 cent Apple Barrel acrylic paint.

On this flat-back canvas I used a “palette knife”  (aka an old gift card) to apply the gesso really thick to demonstrate how to get some good texture.  I lightly dry brushed some studio paints over the top so you can see the depth come though.

I saw a YouTube video online where Claudine used the Studio black gesso as chalkboard paint. I just had to try this.  I painted a wooden tag and embellished it and tried to use the chalk on it.  FABULOUS!  I can see many teacher’s gift tags in my near future…

I also wanted to try and use the gesso on some of Claudine’s sticky-back canvas.  I die-cut some flowers, gesso’d them, and I ended up using some perfect pearls  and some bling and feathers to make a fun Halloween pin.

In conclusion, I was not disappointed with Claudine’s new black gesso.  It is just as fabulous as the rest of Claudine’s products in the Ranger family line. The color is rich, smooth and opaque.  I anticipate you will be able to purchase it soon in the “big box” craft stores; until then you can purchase online at retailers.

The black gesso comes in two sizes; a 4 oz. tub which retails for between $5.50 USD to $6.50 USD, depending on where you buy it.

It comes in a .5 oz tube which is included in the Paint Mediums kit.  Try some out and play!




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