Tempera is traditionally created by hand-grinding dry powdered pigments into a binding agent or medium, such as egg, glue, honey, water, milk (in the form of casein) and a variety of plant gums.

Egg tempera painting starts with placing a small amount of the powdered pigment onto a palette, dish or bowl and adding an equal volume of the binding agent and medium, like egg yolk. Some pigments require slightly more binding agent, others require less. A few drops of distilled water are added; then the binder (egg emulsion) is added in small increments to create the desired transparency. The more egg emulsion, the moretransparent the paint.

Tempera also refers to the paintings done with this medium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the first century AD still exist. Egg tempera was the primary method of painting until 1500 AD when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting.

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