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Old 07-05-12, 11:52 PM
Koo Schadler's Avatar
Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
Tempera Painter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Alstead, NH & Zirahuen, Mexico
Posts: 316
Default Processing Earth Pigments

I imagine this question has been asked before, but I couldn't find the proper thread. Traveling in Mexico I found an exposed cliff wall full of earth pigments - purples, reds, yellows, greens. I've taken some home and played with them and they make beautiful paint. Earth pigments are known for their lightfastness, so I'm not concerned about that issue. But I do wonder about organic matter possibly being in them - I recognize they need some processing before being used in an actual painting (if it is to be archival and for sale). What are the various steps necessary to make an earth pigment suitable for painting? What are the drawbacks of working with pigments from the backyard that have not been washed, etc?

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Old 08-05-12, 06:21 AM
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mona mona is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 205
Default Processing Earth Pigments

Koo, what an interesting find! There was an egg tempera painter I mentioned in a lecture (but do I still have those notes??) who I read about because she was excavating her own pigment for all her paintings. If I can find the details I had on her, I'll let you know. There may still be some useful information on her website.

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Old 08-05-12, 03:46 PM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Oceanside, CA
Posts: 340

HI Koo,
I would slake it down in water, seive out all the unwanted bits, dry it, grind it as best you can, seive it with water again, dry it and use a muller with water as the final grind.
Alternatively, to get finer particles you might grind it as fine as you can, mix with a fair amount of water, shake vigorously, let stand till the heaviest particle settle, then decant the cloudy layer into another container and let dry..... this residue will be quite fine. of course the fineness of particle size you paint with will be determined by the end result you are after.
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