Monday, August 6, 2007

Yet Still More Pigment Tests

I’ve been working on a couple of processes to refine the red-clay pigment even further. The first and most obvious one is to re-slurry already refined pigment. Make sure to click on the thumbnails below for larger images.

Double Slurry results
In a nutshell, take refined pigment, and run the same process on it again (crush, mix with water, shake, let settle & dry, only take the top part that contains finer particles)

It’s smoother, and handles very similar to low-grade commercial paint. It’s still grainier than commercial paint, but totally acceptable for this project. I had to use a mortar & pestle to recrush it after it dried and I worked it longer with the oil than the single slurry batch. This stuff is ready for prime time.

I simply took the dried pigment chips and massaged them with a wet brush until it was loaded with pigment. Single or double slurry works fine for this, and although I could add something to the paint so it wouldn’t break down into mud and crack when it dries. Here are my results.

On this Birthday gift-card for my wife it reads “United States of Canada”. If you’re from America read it as “We’ll be incorporating Canada into our wonderful and fun-loving country soon, and by-golly they’ll thank us for it” If you’re from Canada read it as “Washington, Oregon & California will come to their senses and decide to merge with British Columbia” Thank you. Everyone happy & non-offended? Good.

Metal Removal Results
I found a magnet on a shopping cart a month or so back, and have been collecting the high-metal content soil and separating it out from the rest. I’ve since tried to remove all the dirt and see what kind of metal particles would be left.

Here’s the Process:
Drag magnet (in ziplock bag) through dried crushed dirt
Remove from bag & let dirt drop into a container
Repeat many times per batch of dirt
Mix metallic dirt with water
Put magnet/ziplock combo into slurry & remove into another can.

Repeat process

Take wet metal particles & put into mortar & crush w/ pestle

Repeat process with magnet

Add water, shake & let settle
Top layer is mostly red (Fe2O3 or ‘red rust’ I’d guess)
Bottom layer is mostly black (Fe3O4 i.e. magnetite)

It’s still too grainy to use at this point, but I’m going to see what I can do with it to make it into pigment. Still, it’s pretty cool that I can take soil & separate it out into a dark tan, an almost red and a nearly black. There is NO way I would use this technique to get enough ore to smelt into iron. This just takes too long. Besides, Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research Inc, makers of Mathmatica and creator of the Wooden Periodic Table Table, has listed a much better source for this (From Thermite Steel Entry):

The fun thing about magnetite is that you can find it lying around any beaches in many parts of the country. I collected about 40 pounds on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, in less than half an hour using a large magnet.

½ hour = 40 pounds huh? And it only took about 10 for me to get a thimble’s worth!

By the way, I’ve been talking over email with Theo about this project. He has been incredibly helpful and inspiring, and has held my feet to the fire on making sure I will clearly define the term “From Scratch”. I’m going to compile our email conversation in an upcoming entry. (You can also thank/blame him for my next camera purchase)

So, enough tests for pigment! I’m going to be doing an actual “From Scratch” production run very soon! No more plastic or glass jars for me!

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