Lake pigments continued

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Now that I have a small first collection of pigments to play with before new plants can be tested next summer (I do have some old dried things I can try too), there are multiple ways to use them. They need some kind of binder, although I suppose you could just soak them in water. Alcohol? But even watercolours have binders added to add intensity to the colour as well as make it stick to your paper.

You can use oil, egg, honey*, gum, shellac, wax, milk, spit! or buy readymade binders for a variety of mediums. Even an acrylic binder which I may just have to test, although I’m leaning towards wax and shellac since I plan on working with that anyway.

As I progressed with the pigment extraction I found out that even if you think you’ve ground everything as fine as you can in the mortar, keep going for a while yet and it will improve. So my first batches needed a rerun to get out the last few lumps. To grind even finer I think you need a machine, so let’s keep it rustic like everything else, shall we? Also interestingly, the finer you grind, the bigger the jar you need, as the powder gets fluffier.

Some colour samples below. Autumnal tones which could definitely need some companion colours, but there are a few I quite like! The first five from left are all variations on Staghorn Sumac and the cocoa in the middle is from my hedge clippings, won’t be able to harvest more of those until next July.

I’ll be looking at reds and oranges next. Fresh blues, greens and purples are not really possible with plants, although since it’s elderberry season I may just cook up a batch to compare with wool dye samples for the sake of proving a point. But I’m hoping for some bright and sunny yellows next summer.

Autumn light (and temps) being the norm now for the next 6 months, I don’t know how much point there is in making a sun proofing test since most days will probably be grey and dark, so I’m wondering how else to figure out colour fastness. Any ideas?

* Honey that has not been heated before bottling has antifungal and antibacterial qualities.

In case I end up with leftovers – would anybody be interested in buying very very limited edition collections of homemade “primitive” paints in whichever form I settle on? (Mostly because it would be a fun thing to do, especially if I get feedback) You’re most welcome to take the polls even if you think it’ll just be window shopping.

I’m leaning towards watercolour pans and wax crayons/oil bars myself as the easiest/cheapest thing to ship.

Anyone who votes and elaborates in the comments will be in the lottery for a selection of watercolour pans all made from plants in my garden, free shipping anywhere.

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Did you know that many famous painters of old didn’t care AT ALL if their paints were archival? JMW Turner always used the brightest, newest paints as they were invented, even if they faded within a year. The paintings of van Gogh also looked quite different when they were fresh compared to the colours we are seeing on his paintings today.

12 thoughts on “Lake pigments continued

  1. Har du nogen idé om, hvorfor man ikke kan lave blÃ¥ farve af kornblomster? Alle andre blÃ¥ kronblade, jeg har forsøgt at samle, falmer nÃ¥r de tørrer, men kronblomstens blade forbliver kornblomstblÃ¥. Jeg kunne i hvert fald godt overtales til at forsøge at male blÃ¥t med fint pulveriserede kronblade, men det er nok kun en drøm. De eneste, jeg har forsøgt mig med, er blækhatteblæk og valnøddeskalsekstrakt, de ligner begge nu en japansk blæk-blok til at skrive med – skal prøves snarest.

    1. At bare pulverisere plantemateriale er ikke det samme som at udtrække pigmentet og binde det til alun, og vil nok i langt de fleste tilfælde ikke virke som maling. Det er nok også derfor, det ikke virker med kornblomsterne, som alle andre blå blomsterfarver er den farve vi ser ikke dannet via egentligt pigment men en anden proces som jeg ikke har en fis forstand på. Teoretisk kemi keder mig overordentlig meget!!

      1. Jeg ved godt, at det ikke er det samme, plantefarvning og malerfarveproduktion ligener trods alt hinanden 😉 Og du har helt ret i dine overvejelser om at det ikke er det samme, den holder ikke ved opvarmning … jeg tænkte bare … nÃ¥r nu man kan lave farver af pulveriserede sten, jord, ler … hvorfor sÃ¥ ikke pulveriserede urter?

        1. Jeg må være dig svar skyldig. De fleste planter er jo så også umådeligt kedelige i vissen tilstand, så man kunne blot lave endeløse rækker af khaki. Jeg tror heller ikke din kornblomst holder til en sæson i vindueskarmen!

  2. Worrying whether my paintings will last a century when I’ve actually only sold a few is a bit like “needing” to find an agent/publisher before you begin writing a book, isn’t it?

    Pink sock yarn that fades to beige first time it’s washed is obviously not very cool, but other than that, everything fades a bit with use and may otherwise wear out first.

  3. Btw I can’t see who replied about the oil bars, but in case it was you, the wax crayons I had in mind will in fact be oil bars – natural beeswax to keep the shape + oil + pigment. Definitely going to try to find a good formula for my personal use! So not the hard, glossy type of wax crayon.

    1. ‘‘Twas me – they sound just the thing. I have researched a few recipes myself in the past but then went off the idea as it felt too energy consuming. Good luck with this.

    1. I knew that would excite you! 😉 It’s probably my own preference too. Just need to find a good mold for them. I have one idea, but it requires that I find an invasive plant…

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