Tempera is a type of paint made using egg yolk. It is still used today by some artists but it was very popular in ancient Egypt as well as during the Italian Renaissance. To make the paint, an artist ground minerals into powder. He separated the yolk (the yellow part of the egg) from the white. Then the artist mixed the yolk with the colored powder until he like the color and thickness of his paint.
Egg yolk dries quickly and forms a hard coat. Once dry, yolk is difficult to remove. (Try scrubbing dried egg out of a bowl…) Because of this, paintings made with tempera last a long time. The Fayum Portraits of ancient Egypt have lasted more than 2000 years!
You can make your own tempera! Be sure to have an adult help you with this one. Do not make the tempera until you are ready to paint with it.
Empty egg carton
Sharpen a piece of chalk with your pencil sharpener. Empty the shavings into one of the egg carton cups. Repeat for each color you wish to create.
Separate the egg yolk from the egg white. You will only need the yolk. Mix the egg yolk with about three teaspoons of water.
Stir a small amount of the yolk mixture into each cup. Your paint should be a little runny. Be sure to stir until the paint is smooth.
You are now ready to create your masterpiece! Be aware that tempera paint dries fast. If the paint sits in the cups for too long, you’ll have to add a little more water to prevent it from thickening.
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