How to Seal Tempera Paint

By Greta Chapin-McGill ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • 1 pint container with lid
  • Enough string to reach twice the height of the jar
  • Cotton cloth
  • Damar crystals ( available at art supply stores)
  • One cup of pure turpentine

Tempera paint is one of the oldest known paints and was used in ancient Egypt, Babylonia and Greece. Made originally from pigment mixed with egg yolks, today's tempera paint comes in a dry powdered form and is mixed with water. The most popular way of preserving egg tempera paint is with damar varnish. This recipe will produce nearly nine ounces of damar varnish

Making Damar Varnish

Place the damar crystals in the center of the cotton cloth and wrap the ends together and tie with string to make a bag. Follow the instructions on the package for the right amount of crystals.

Pour the turpentine into the pint container. Place the bag of damar crystals inside of the turpentine leaving one end of the string outside the jar. Make sure the damar crystals are thoroughly wet.

Close the lid of the jar leaving the string outside. If your jar won't close you can leave the string on top the bag. The crystals need to be immersed in the turpentine for at least two days. Stir the contents twice a day.

When the crystals have dissolved you can remove the bag. You can transfer the varnish to another container and discard any debris that has settled to the bottom of the container. The solution should be a golden yellow color.

Your varnish is now ready to be used to seal your tempera painting. Damar varnish will give your painting the look of an oil painting

Tip

Tempera paint dries quickly but takes a very long time to harden. Be patient with the sealing process.

Warning

Use caution when handling turpentine--it is a very flammable substance. Have a well ventilated area to make this varnish. Dispose of your used materials carefully.

About the Author

Greta Chapin-McGill has been a writer and beauty professional for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in "Nails Magazine" and "les Nouvelles Esthetiques." Chapin-McGill attended Howard University and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., studying painting and art history. She is now a features writer for SantaFe.com.