Making Pigments and Paints

My last five posts were about making historical replicas.  Here’s a link for the post that links them all together:

Well, except for the Impressionism replica, we made our own paints.  This was for the egg tempera on panel, the oil on panel, and the oil on canvas.  So in this post I am going to have some images of our pigment and paint making processes, and I am going to try to explain what’s going on.


This is titanium white pigment and water.  Tempera paints use pigment ground in water.  Oil paints use pigment ground in linseed oil.

Grinding paint is exhausting.  You probably think it looks simple.  But some colors required 20-30 minutes of grinding in order to make it useable.

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I honestly cannot remember what the name of this is.  I feel like it is copper acetate, but I might be wrong.  To make it you suspend a scratched up copper plate in a jar with vinegar.  After a couple weeks, this is what is produced.  I had to scratch it off the plate.  Then it is set out to dry for a couple days, and then ground up.


Madder root?  I think so.  We had to make lake pigments.  It’s quite an ordeal.  We made madder root lake in two ways.  Here we soaked the root wrapped in muslin.  It made something that looked and smelled like herbal tea.  The other method was to ferment the root for several days.

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I’m missing a few steps in images, but after the “tea” is made, the pH is adjusted and then the precipitant is filtered out until the water runs clear(ish).  The precip (in the filter papers) is then left out to dry, and that’s our pigment!


We also made Brazil wood lake.  The process was similar to the madder root process.  Here is the precip that formed.  I thought it looked too cool to not take a picture.

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And these are some pictures of me grinding Azurite in oil.


Posted on January 14, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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