Probably carving the gesso in this case will be too much labor.The profile will be wide and flat with steps. It's for a contemporary oil of an angel in a suitcase you might say, the suitcase being the frame. Anyway the artist likes a leathey sort of look. I've got an interesting bumpy sort of texture by adding linseed oil to my gesso and I've done boulder type of panel useing a stencil but an alligator texture might be interesting. I might try somehow pressing cheescloth into the gesso or more probably painting over cheesecloth an pulling it off. Thanks for your input. Terry
I assume you are trying to create the effect of cracked, "alligatored" gesso (not faux-crocodile skin effect). There was an article in Picture Framing Magazine Sept/Oct 1990 "Uncle Bob's Crackle Gesso" by Bill Adair that gave instructions for recreating this. It involved using cornstarch in the gesso formula.
The Society of Gilders will be offering a gesso class - www.societyofgilders.org - as well as an upcoming message board for members. If you renew your membership for this year, you can get a class discount, as well as a new benefit - discount coupons to some major gilding suppliers.
Adding starch to gesso will lead to the creation
of cracks in the surface, but it also weakens
the material. If the gesso air dries, its cracks
tend to have triangular interscetions. If a heat
gun is used to speed the drying, the cracks tend
to be more rectangular.