Posts Tagged ‘materials’


Making Casein Paint: Titanium White

July 21, 2017

I’ve been wanting to get back to using one of my favorite paint mediums for awhile, casein. I took an inventory of the tubes I had available for my next project, and noticed I was short or low on a few colors, particularly titanium white, so it’s time to make some more.

I have a bathroom next to my studio space that I use exclusively for this type of work, so I clean off an area by the sink, and set up my tools and supplies. I have a large sheet of textured glass that I use for mixing the paint. There’s a mortar and pestle for smoothing the dry pigment, an empty tube for the paint, a squirt bottle of distilled water, about 4 ounces of casein binder, and white pigment.

The pigment is a little lumpy, so I use the pestle to break it down some, and place about 2.5 tablespoons of pigment on the glass with about 2 teaspoons of binder and just enough water to get the consistency of paint I want, and spend a few minutes with the spatula smoothing it out.

I test the paint I’ve mixed to see if it spreads easily with a brush without having to add any water, and check the opacity on this sheet of colored paper. It looks fine, so I repeat these steps about 2 more times to make more paint to fill the tube.

There’s enough paint now to fill up this 50ml tube and another 22ml. I seal the ends by squeezing it shut at about 1/2 inch below the end. to give me enough room to crimp.

I fold over a little of the end, and crimp it tight with some pliers, and repeat this about 2 more times to get a tight seal.

Here I have two tubes of white casein labeled and ready to use.


Sinopia Casein Gesso Update: Jar Problem

May 2, 2017

I’m interrupting my series of posts on the new painting to point out a problem I discovered today with a jar of Casein Gesso from Sinopia. This follows up on two posts I made in the past: one is a review of this product, and another was how I store paint containers like this upside down.

I bought this jar of gesso a little over a year ago, and keep it inside a drawer in my studio. I haven’t used it in awhile, but today I decided to open the drawer to try it out again, only to find the contents had leaked out. The lid was screwed on tight, but that wasn’t enough to stop air from getting in, and some of the contents leaking onto the drawer. Fortunately that was plastic, so it was easy to clean (that’s what that clean piece of gel is in the picture,) but I had to use a plumber’s wrench to get the lid off, and found that about 1/3 of the paint had dried out. That rounded disk inside the lid is about 1/2 inch layer of dried paint, and more dried on the sides of the jar. It had been stored upside-down.

As I mentioned in the article link above, I store containers like this upside down just for this reason. Screw-on lids of this type make very poor containers for paint, since air gets in easily. Even if this was stored upright, air gets in, and would have dried out the paint even worse. Some jars you can buy come with cushions inside the lid, sponges or thick paper, that help seal the jar. Another solution I’ve used in the past is to wrap wide tape around the outside. That has to be replaced frequently, but it’s better than throwing away paint.

Metal cans for paint make a better seal than a screw-on lid, unfortunately, a quart size can is the smallest available. Tubes are also better since the opening is smaller, so less air gets in. The best option is to use it up quickly. Prime several sheets of paper stock or canvas that you have on hand, and don’t store the left over paint for very long.


Making Gouache Paint: Light Brown

September 23, 2016


I’m making more gouache paint. This is a tube of “light brown” I mixed up last night. It’s made of mostly raw sienna, but has a pale grey cast to it. I like to use it for skin tones. Still have to make some cerulean blue, and a mid-tone grey.


I like these empty tubes I get from Creative Mark (c/o Artarama.) No cap problems, or leaking from the tubes, and the caps have a little indentation at the top that works well for painting a color swatch to identify the paint inside. This tube is 22ml.


Lip Balm Tube Holder for Oil Pastels

September 9, 2016


Okay, here’s my latest experiment. I was online looking for some more gum arabic powder to make some gouache, and I found a new supplier to try out, Mountain Rose Herbs, who had a good price. While on their site, I saw they had various containers too, including empty lip balm tubes. (People make their own lip balm? Okay.)

As some of you who have been following my blog may know, I make my own oil pastels. Seeing these empty lip balm tubes you can probably see where my idea went, so I bought a few to try out as oil pastel holders. The order came in the mail yesterday.


The first thing was to melt the block of charcoal pastel I had made into a liquid using a coffee cup warmer and a muffin tin. I thought I might want to make the pastel a bit harder, so I shaved off a bit of encaustic wax too. I found a piece of plastic from some packaging that made a better funnel by using a snipped off corner, and poured the wax into the tube.


So, how well does it work? Not bad. It poured in fairly easy, but the wax hardens quickly, and this left some air gaps in the tube. I need to find a better tool to push it down and fill it with more wax. The tube is small (1/2 x 1″), but they’re cheap (.30 each) so I can make several at once. The cooled wax will easily push up, but not back down by turning the dial at the bottom. It does make a nice holder, and is not messy to use.


Framing4Yourself Material Arrived

May 7, 2016

Well, that was quick. The order I made of cut frame pieces was delivered by FedEx today, just 2 days from Illinois to Texas by ground service. They were packed in a cardboard box (I was expecting a mailing tube) wrapped and stuffed in brown paper.


I’ve just roughly dry fit the pieces together to see how it looks, and the edges are sharp and clean. I may want to go with a wider trim than these now that I see it better, but I’ll go ahead an glue it to get a better idea.


Here it is in my strap clamp, and you can see that the corners fit very well. So far, I’m very pleased with Framing4Yourself, and would recommend them for custom framing material.


Ordering Supplies from Framing4Yourself

May 6, 2016

I’m getting some art ready for an upcoming show, and I wanted to include the recent portrait I drew in the submission. It’s a non-standard size, so I could take it to a local shop for framing, or make it myself. Instead I thought I’d try out an online store a friend recommended called Framing4Yourself.


They offer all the materials you need to make a frame, from cutting the molding to your measurements, to all the tools you need to put it together. I already have everything else, so I just ordered the pre-cut molding. The cost was reasonable and comparable to hunting down the molding or getting the frame built locally. It should arrive in a few days, and I’ll give a review then.


Casein Made from Kalona Brand Milk

March 28, 2016

Here’s a follow up to my previous post, with me now making a batch of casein glue from the Kalona brand milk I bought. It looks like it will work just fine.

As a reminder, this milk is different than the sort normally sold at a grocery store here in the US. It’s non-homogenized, low heat pasteurized, and about the closest type to raw milk you can buy. Here’s how I made the casein glue from it:
First I poured 8 ounces of the milk at room temperature into a small pot, and heat it to about 150 degrees, making sure it doesn’t get over 190. I stir in two tablespoons of white vinegar. In a few seconds it congeals into a ball of casein.


I crumble the casein into a fine mesh strainer, and wash it under the tap for a few seconds until the water is clear to remove all the whey and any byproducts that may be in the milk.


Next, I dilute a 1/2 teaspoon of borax in 2 tablespoons of distilled water. This alkali will change the casein into a glue. I put the casein in a small jar, and stir in the borax liquid.


I stir the contents every 20 minutes or so, and after about four hours it turns into a thick gel. It’s still a little lumpy at this point, so I would want to let it sit for a few more hours before using it for anything. I added a drop of thymol as a preservative.


So, this brand of milk works well as a source for making casein glue as a binder for paint or gesso. The biggest drawback is that it’s pricey. It’s twice as expensive as the last jug of raw milk I bought, and three times the price of regular commercial milk. It would be better if I could get it in a smaller size, since this is way more milk than I need. Unfortunately, it’s only available in 1/2 gallon. I can also use it for food, of course. It tastes okay, a little more buttery than regular milk. I could make cheese from it, but would want to use something other than vinegar, perhaps lime juice.

Well, the lime juice worked. I substituted it for the vinegar, using half a lemon, and the casein separated from the whey easily. It took a few extra seconds, and more stirring, but the results were the same. I’m not certain, but the casein felt not quite as firm this time, however. I saved the whey and lime juice liquid, and added it to my pasta sauce for tonight’s dinner. I mixed some oregano into the casein (a.k.a. cheese) and crumbled it on top of the spaghetti. Tasted good.