Posts Tagged ‘materials’

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Refilling a Pentel Color Brush Pen

May 8, 2018

In the above image I’m showing two Pentel Color Brush Pens. The one on the bottom is brand new, but the one on the top is an old one I’ve taken apart. The way Pentel sells these pens is that the bottom section can be replaced with another handle that is already filled with ink. That struck me as wasteful, and I figured out a long time ago how to fill it with new ink of my own choosing. Also, their old pens only came with dye based inks. They now sell a pigmented ink option, which is in the bottom pen here.

To refill these pens (this method works with the new ones too,) You have to disassemble everything. You carefully pry off the plug (D) from the handle (B), and then remove the two tubes (C) attached to the plug. I use a 1ml syringe to fill the handle with ink. It holds about 7ml of liquid. Don’t fill it completely full, so that there’s a little bit of air to push the ink into the brush top. Replace the plug on the handle without the tubes, and screw the brush top back on. On the new brushes, you are supposed to leave off the spacer ring (F) for the top to screw all the way down, but on my old one I needed to keep the ring between the top and the handle to make a good seal. Gently squeeze the handle until the top fills with ink. It will take a long time for the ink to fill into the brush, so I do this a few hours ahead of time. Replace the cap (E) to keep the brush from drying out. There are different size brushes available, too, including a flat style. I’ve seen other brands that have different sizes of flats, also.

You can refill these with any type of ink, but I would recommend not using a type that is waterproof, such as shellac or acrylic inks. These can dry inside the brush top and make it useless except possibly as a dipping brush. It is possible to use those inks if you give the brush a good cleaning after each use, but that can be tedious, and the inside of the top is hard to get completely clean. You have to fill the handle with water, screw the top back on, and squirt it through the brush a few times. Sumi inks work very well, and are available in a limited range of colors. Since they’re not waterproof, you don’t have to worry about leaving the ink in the brush. Fountain pen inks also work well, but are not pigmented.

Pentel also sells another similar style tool called a “Aquash” brush. I’m showing one here filled with sumi ink that’s been slightly diluted. This is mainly sold for watercolor painting, but will work with ink the same way I’ve described above. However, for watercolor painting you only fill the handle with water, not paint. This allows you to dip the brush on your palette and use different colors as you would with a regular brush. The water in the handle keeps a constant flow of water on the brush. To refill it you just unscrew the top, and add the liquid in the handle – no plug or tubes to deal with. When refilling it with ink, don’t press the syringe tight against the rim of the handle. Instead, leave a little bit of an opening to let air in, so the ink will flow inside properly. If your syringe has a needle, that won’t be necessary, but needles are a little harder to clean.

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Considering Selling the Casein Paint I Make

January 20, 2018

I continue to be wrapped up in a family crisis, so I haven’t yet gotten back to my painting, but hope to tomorrow. In the meantime, I made up some more casein paint yesterday. This time I made some yellow ochre.

It came out very good. The paper shows a thin wash, and an undiluted sample painted over a black sharpie ink marker. I decided to use my last empty 45ml tube instead of the new 37s I got recently.

All this paint I’ve been making has got me wondering if anyone would be interested in buying some tubes of paint from me. Right now I have a bunch of burnt umber, titanium white, red oxide, and this yellow ochre. I have a few small jars of other colors, but can easily get more. I could put together a “basic set” of six tubes, such as what Richeson does with their caseins. I’m sure I could affordably sell it for $15 to $20, and possibly individual tubes as well for $3 or $4. That would be much cheaper then Richeson. Not sure how I would market them. Perhaps an Etsy page, or a Go Fund Me project would work. Does this sound like something any of you would be interested in? If so, please leave me some feedback.

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Making Red Oxide Casein Paint for New Painting

January 7, 2018

As I’m starting to work on the background of the new painting, I noticed I was too low on the red oxide paint that I wanted to use, so I needed to mix up some more.

I also wanted to test out the package of Bob’s Red Mill milk powder I bought recently to see how well it works for making a casein binder. 1 quart of rehydrated milk gave me a little less than 6 ounces of casein when I added 1/2 cup of vinegar. That’s the separated milk liquid on the right. I’m used to seeing the milk coagulate into a large ball after I add the vinegar, which I then tear it into small pieces so it will dissolve better. This milk forms small clumps of casein instead, as seen here, so that saves me an extra step.

I added about 2 teaspoons of Borax diluted in 1/2 cup distilled water to this casein, and let that sit for about 24 hours to form a thick smooth gel. This will be my paint binder.

The red oxide pigment was purchased from Camden Grey. A one pound bag cost me only $3. It makes a lovely dark red burgundy color that mixes very easily with my binder. I’m waiting on an order of empty paint tubes to arrive, so I’m using a one ounce jar in the meantime.

Here’s a scan of the paint on a piece of watercolor paper. I painted it over some black Sharpie marks to show how opaque it is. It also thins down nicely. Now I’m ready to get back to work.

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Testing Gesso Made from Cellulose Gel

October 1, 2017

A few days ago I was scanning the internet looking for raw art supply materials, and I came across a site that sold a gesso mix using methyl cellulose. This was “Eco Gesso” sold by Natural Earth Paint. I was surprised, but intrigued. I’ve used methyl cellulose (MC) and Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) as art mediums before, but not in this manner. (Here’s a link to a previous post using MC mixed with oils.) I’ve made gesso before using rabbit skin glue (RSG) or casein for many years. My first reaction to one of this type was that MC or CMC would be too weak by comparison to serve as an effective foundation for painting; however, being naturally curious, I decided to try to make some of my own, and test it out. A $30 kit from Natural Earth sounded like too much to pay for experimenting.

I’ve read that CMC has a stronger bond than MC, so I took a teaspoon of CMC powder, and converted it into a gel by adding eight teaspoons of distilled water.

Next I added water to thin this out, and solids to make the gesso. That’s the gesso in the metal bowl.

I took a scrap panel I had, 8 x 10 inches, patched it up a bit, and applied the first thin coat.

Here’s the finished panel with 8 coats.

I had to make 3 different attempts at this. The first batch of gesso I made, using the same ratios of CMC gel that I use with either RSG or casein was too thick, and the end result on the dry panel was dusting off too much, leading me to believe the glue was too weak to hold that much gypsum. This panel is the second attempt, which had 25% less solids, but the same glue strength. It went down very smoothly, and although it didn’t powder off as badly as the first one, it still was rather weak. I could wipe the surface and get a powdery residue. I made a third attempt by using less water in the glue, and it didn’t brush on as smoothly, but still dusted off.

In summary, this gesso is much weaker than those made using RSG or casein, just as I first suspected. However, it’s not completely unusable. It’s like painting a fresco. Wet paint will turn pastel from mixing with the surface powder, but still hold. You can see the difference of this burnt umber paint on the CMC gesso panel compared to the same paint on a scrap piece of watercolor paper. If one doesn’t mind that desaturation of color, then it can work acceptably with either water based or oil based paints. The CMC powder can be found online very easily. I bought mine at a local ceramic supply store. It doesn’t have to be heated or refrigerated like the other glues, but can grow mold. A drop of preservative, like thymol, will prevent that. Personally, I’ll stick to the other glues. They make a stronger surface and are more versatile, but it’s good to know there’s an alternative.

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Casein Glue Made from Instant Milk Powder

September 23, 2017

I was at a friend’s house recently, and as we were talking about my experiments with making casein, she complained that she had some dry “instant” milk powder she had bought for her young son, but he didn’t like the taste. She let me take it home to experiment with, since I had never tried making casein from a dry powdered milk before.

This particular brand from Saco Foods is like other commercial milk powders I’ve seen at grocery stores “fortified” with vitamin A & D (and sometimes E) so I’ve always avoided using them, but there are other brands on the market that don’t have anything else added. It could be convenient and more economical to make casein from this if it works out well. It did. Here’s how I made it:

I followed the instructions to re-hydrate the powder by adding 3 3/4 cup of water (distilled) to one package, 3.2 ounces, of powder. This made about 4 cups of milk. I used a blender to mix it well, and set it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The next morning, I poured the milk into a pot, and heated it on the stove to @150 degrees, turned off the heat, and added 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar. Stirring for a couple minutes it congealed into a ball of casein. So far so good. I removed the ball of casein and filtered the liquid through cheesecloth to catch as much extra casein as possible, and then tore up all the casein into small pieces so it would dissolve more easily. In the picture below is a bowl of about 2.5 ounces of casein from the 4 cups of instant milk.

I rinsed the casein in clean water a couple times to remove as much of the vinegar as possible. Next I placed it in a 12 ounce jar, and I diluted 2 teaspoons of borax in 1/2 cup of distilled water that I heated in the microwave for about 20 seconds, and then added to the casein. This will turn the casein into a glue gel.

After about 6 hours or so the casein had started to transform into a gel, but was still a little lumpy. At this point I stirred in a drop of thymol to act as a preservative, and let it sit for awhile longer. After about 12 hours it had transformed into a very thick and stiff gel, about 1/2 cup.

Comparing this to other casein glue I’ve made I would say the gel from raw milk is more opaque, and gel made from dry casein powder is has a slightly darker amber tone. It does feel slightly sticky, so I would guess it will work just fine for my needs in making paint, gesso, or fixative. Very encouraging.

I’ll check out a few local grocery stores to see if I can find some instant milk powder that is unfortified. If not there are plenty of brands on the internet I could order. Here is one from Bob’s Red Mill, for example. The label says it has 0% vitamin A, so no Palm oil is added, and no vitamins D or E. The vitamin C is a natural milk component. From that 22 ounce packet I should get about 4 cups (32 ounces) of casein gel. If I remember correctly, I can get about 16 ounces of gel from a gallon of fresh milk. In powder form, the milk can be stored up to 2 years.

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Shiva Casein Paint Test Update

July 24, 2017

To follow up on my previous post, I had found that one of my Richeson/Shiva paints, Cadmium Green, transferred to a dry paper towel with just some light rubbing after the paint had dried. Now I wanted to see if other tubes I owned had this same problem. They do.

This picture shows a sheet of paper on which I painted 1 inch swatches of all the different tubes of Shiva paints I have. The paper towel at the bottom shows pigment from each swatch that transferred over. I did not dilute the paint at all with water, and did not apply the paint too thickly. All of the paints smeared easily when rubbed, some more than others, with the sole exception of the Raw Sienna. The ivory black in particular smeared very badly, and even after a day of drying felt to have a weak paint film.

Since all of the paints are old, in some cases decades old, I asked around to other people who used these paints if they could test any tubes they might have that are newer, and see if they had the same problem. I heard back from a couple people. One person had some Richeson caseins that were only months old, and found they had the exact same pigment transfer problem. The other artist rubbed the surface of paintings he had made that were at least 3 months old, and said no paint at all rubbed off. What this tells me is it might be possible that if the paint is allowed to cure for awhile longer, the pigment will adhere better and not rub off. This strikes me as a strong possibility. So, I think I’ll do a new test on paint swatches that sat undisturbed for a month or more, and then see if any pigment rubs off.

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Comparing My Casein Paint to Shiva Brand

July 22, 2017

I wanted to follow up on my previous post where I made my own casein white paint, and see how well it compares to tubes of the Shiva paint I had, and discovered something interesting. I used the paint swatch I made testing my paint on a sheet of Strathmore textured “Art Paper” 65lb.

I painted a small swatch of the Shiva titanium white, undiluted, next to the swatch of mine I had made. It may be hard to tell in this photo, but I noticed their white has a slight off-white yellowish tint to it that mine does not. I let this dry for a day, and came back and gave both a buffing with some colored fabric, and saw no transfer of pigment from either swatch. Next I placed a small piece of cellophane tape over each one, rubbed it, and removed the tape. Both transferred some paint, but more paint came off the Shiva swatch, lifting almost all the paint from the paper. The casein binder I used to make my paint was over a year old, so later I’ll see if a fresher batch performs better.

Since that tube of Shiva white is many years old, I thought I’d test a newer tube of Cadmium Green that I had to see if it performed any better. Rather surprisingly the pigment adhesion was worse. I let that paint swatch dry for about 3 hours, and rubbed the surface with a paper towel. You can see quite a bit of pigment rubbed off. The tape test pulled off quite a bit of pigment also, and the way the pigment transferred was not in sections of paint, but powdery like what I saw on the paper towel. This tells me that the adhesion on this tube of Shiva paint is poor. Granted, it’s about 5 years old or so, but it shouldn’t come off this easily. I have commercial tubes of gouache that adhere better than this. I hope the newer Richeson brand of Shiva adheres better. Now I want to test the rest of the Shiva paints I have. This is not terrible, but surprising. This paint adhesion is not much better than soft pastel.