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Lesson Plans

Egg Tempera with Young Children

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Peggy Woolsey (woolspeg)
Wed, 4 Feb 1998 20:27:24 +0800

Lee wrote,

>Do any of you have experience doing egg tempera with young children?
>I'm planning on doing this with 2nd graders. What type of ground can I use
>that is inexpensive, easy to prepare and successful for children?
>(Inexpensive being a key word here!)
>Also, any suggestions on how to mix the egg and pigments? I would love to use
>found pigments--various crushed stones, earth, plant material, etc.
>Thanks for any advice, anecdotes, ideas in advance!

Lee, I have not used egg tempera with so young a group, however I have tied
its use into art history lessons on the evolution of paint, with middle
school students. I had access to a museum with both 11th century tempera
paintings on wood panels as well as early oil paintings. I was able to
point out how much better the tempera paintings withstood the test of time
than did the early oil paintings. Anyway, back to your question.
Stiff cardboard covered with a good quality exterior latex paint
works pretty well for a ground. Cracking the ground is the problem for egg
tempera. Plaster and glue, mixed and painted on anything that will take it
is also a nice ground, but you have to be fast with the plaster. The
traditional tempera ground was a sanded wooden panel, prepared with a
glue/chalk base.
Grinding pigments is an art in itself. All the things you mentioned
will work, but plant material won't give you much pigment unless you go
into production. I once took some bricks in various shades and had kids
chip off bits and hammer the bits (eye protection a must). We then mixed
the powder with acrylic medium and painted with it.
Powdered pigments have been discontinued for use in my school
district. Too many kids have problems with the dust. However, I still use
them, mixing the yolk and pigment at home. The color is really good if the
pigment color is strong. Mixing the yolk with watercolors works fine too.
The kids get all bug-eyed when you break the egg, work off the white, roll
the yolk in the palm of your hand, lift the yolk by its sac, make a hole in
the sac and let the gooey yellow stuff flow into a container. The very
freshest eggs work best. Remember to add some water to the mix. Fun!!

P.S. I just remembered--the whites mixed with some water (must be frothy)
makes a varnish called" glair." Peggy