Saturday, November 28, 2009

Eco Art: Black Charcoal & Egg Paint

Woo! I have another color to add to my non toxic art-senal. Black, one of my long missed dark colors I used to liberally apply on my toxic acrylic paintings back in the day. I have not only missed the color itself but I have also missed the thick goopy opague quality that acrylics gave my art work. Last night I learned how to powder charcoal from the wood stove here, and turn it into paint!

1.Using a rock and a wood surface the charcoal was carefully crushed into a power by rubbing the stone over the charcoal... this was actually fairly easy and didn't take long at all.
2. After powdering the charcoal I took the powder and added it to an egg yolk (just the yellow part of the raw egg).
3. Stirring it together with bamboo stick (you can use a spoon, knife or anything laying around) it immediately turned black and was a thick dark paint ready for use!
I tested a blop on some scrap paper and it was good to go!
I made a paint brush by cutting a small bit of my hair out and tying it to a stick with a rubber band, then applied the paint to this scrap piece of wood (end piece from a lumber mill). The wood was rather rough and my brush was too soft for the rough wood, so the paint could not go on smooth - the surface in which you paint has ALOT to do with how much paint you will have to use and how it will look when applied (same reason why canvas is ghesso'd before use). The thing that was really cool about the black egg paint was you can easily scrape back into it and draw using the 'negative' technique (like scratch board). I drew this simple owl into the paint, while testing out how the egg & charcoal would apply, work, and especially how and if it would dry correctly after!
While waiting for it to dry i smashed some poke berries on the surface and stained the wood with it- using a little water to spread it around. One of the amazing things about the charcoal/egg paint is that not only did it dry rock hard, but it keeps a bit o' shine to it... in other words it does not really dry to a matte finish, it has gleams of light reflecting off the surface. Very cool!
This (new for me) discovery of using powder in egg yokes for thicker colors is awesome... you can most likely apply other natural & non toxic powdered colors like various spices and herbs (turmeric, paprika?) , and I would love to dehydrate native dye plants growing in the woods here and make my own organic egg paints for free with a wider range of colors!
When this project below finishes drying what i want to write above the 1970's looking owl is "Kiss me Stranger". :)


Panne said...

try some of the pig's hair for a stiffer brush. feather's work ok for fine lines and tight spots. just cut the vanes off and trim the tip back until it's stiff enough.

the color of the egg yolk will affect the color of turmeric and paprika paint. if it's too orange use a store bought egg which has a much lighter yolk.

to get the yolk more red orange feed the chicken seafood peelings, especially crawfish shells. the egg and paint will have a fishy smell.

chalk, talc and some ash can be used for whites and lightening. certain types of ash may be caustic enough to make the paint breakdown sooner.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Panne!
Thanks for the suggestions - i thought about weaker eggs in the grocery for lighter yolks, (farm fresh are very dark yellow )- with the lighter pigments this would work better. Usually for a brush i use some horse hair that i have in a bag (given to me by a friend) - the horse hair makes an awesome brush too! I wish i could get the pig to hold still to get some brush hairs off of him,, those would be quite perfect. But he'd probably ram me and scream :)
I like the idea about chalk alot, i had not thought of that... we also have tons of ash here from various hardwoods burned in the wood stove. The ash would be a really nice gray.
Now to find a blue? I may have to order indigo or woad while trying to start growing some for processing into pigment.

Gretta said...

I was just trying to figure out what exactly woad was and found this. Kind of interesting.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Gretta -
That is what i am talking about! You know your paint rocks when it actually helps prevent or get rid of cancer, instead of cause it!!! I think I am leaning towards woad now for a blue, gonna have to look for seeds or plants to buy. I know there are a select few organic clothing companies which choose to dye their denim with woad instead of indigo...pretty neat!

Mokihana and Pete said...

you are on to some thing, dear.

The charcoal and egg paint inspires. I'm sensitive to wood smoke (so WHY is she living in a Mill Town??LOL) so charcoal might be hard on my lungs, too. Still, the journey back to your art is pretty wonderful winter activity.

I love the discovery (for me) about woad. I'm gonna check that link out.

What would you do to paint metal (we have an old port hole being added to our vardo pod for a cooking exhaust window)??? Any ideas ???


Mokihana and Pete said...

had a bit of a look see to learn more about woad. Very cool, and though I don't know for sure the woad looks familiar to the North West. Making the dye according to one source involved using 'non-foaming ammonia.' YUCK! Instead of ammonia, I found a clue to perhaps using less toxic liquids like stale pee. Whaddaya know??


Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Mokihana!

Thanks for sharing what you learned about woad - i always think that when some web page suggests you have to use a harsh chemical in order to make a color work, that they are not looking at ancient times when people used the color freely without access to any chems. The pee idea i am sure might gross some people out but that is a neat idea - do you have the link?