This week in my art history class I tried making egg tempera paint for the first time. This kind of paint was used a lot in Renaissance Italy and is made with egg yolk, a small amount of vinegar, and ground up pigments in different colors. It is permanent and dries fast like acrylics. Also like acrylics, it can be mixed with water. One thing that makes it very different though is the way in which it has to be applied. It is painted on in a crosshatched pattern made up of many small lines because if it is put on too thick it will crack.
The process of making the paint was interesting because after the whites of the egg are taken away, the inside of the yolk has to be separated from the membrane that holds its shape. I had never tried to do that before and it was a bit messy. After that the yolk gets mixed with the colored pigments. In class we had some pigments premade, but they can also be made by hand with natural materials. I ended up painting a little bird with the egg tempera and I was surprised to see that it dried with a nice shine to it. It was very different from any paint I have used before and I really enjoyed it.