Saturday, October 30, 2010

White, Mica, and Silver

Mixed activities here this evening. First up was a couple of tubes of this white mineral.

Then two more tubes with this lovely red earth laden with mica.

This afternoon I dug out silver wire from my chainmaking days. For weeks I've been thinking that my 0.5 mm Pentel mechanical pencil might make a good holder for silverpoint. 0.51 mm converts to 24 gauge in wire size. At the top of my pile of wire I found ten feet of 24 gauge fine silver! I clipped a piece, smoothed one end, and popped it in to work perfectly with my Pentel!

I'll probably want various gauges but this is a good start. Some tempera artists rough in their painting with silverpoint.

Here's a bit of silverpoint on gesso.

Wrapping up the evening was an attempt to finish one of the new Realgesso boards. I have an email into Realgesso for guidelines but in the meantime I used Koo Schadler's recommendations on the True Gesso site. I found that using the rougher grits seemed to be overkill, creating deep scratches that then took time to remove. Unless I hear different from Realgesso, on the next board I will begin with 320 grit, then 400, and finally 600. Perhaps different grit sizes and techniques are appropriate with boards from different suppliers, as well as when I make my own gesso boards.


  1. Exciting stuff! Great textures of paint there -- especially the contrast between the porridgey white and the flakey sparkly russet. I've passed your silver wire tip on to my parents -- my mum has some silver wire from her jewellery-making days. Interesting to see it on the gesso. It has a rough effect I've not seen before which I'm guessing is a result of the texture of the gesso -- unsanded at that point?

    I've run into the same problem of scratches when sanding down plain vellum. Sandpaper is not too good to use because the grit comes off the paper and rolls around. 'Wet-and-dry' which I think is carborundum paper seems better. It looks like the stuff covering your sanding blocks. Great tip about using blocks rather than the paper! I'll remember that ...

  2. After checking, I see that you are spot on regarding that unsanded gesso. I just did a little test on my new board and that silver spread so smoothly. It did uncover some slight sanding grooves--not sure if these would need to be approached. I am on the lookout for greater than 600 grit. 3M has some great finishing products with papers into the micron level that I've used for metal polishing. I may be trying those out for the boards and silver.

  3. That's interesting! Blimey: micron-level finishing papers ... but the idea of polishing gesso with such a tiny abrasive is very appealing for the ultimate smooth painting surface. (Shades of T-Cut for cars, and jeweller's rouge for gems.)

    Also interesting about the denatured alcohol. I am wondering how that would work on a vellum surface. Usually I dust down thoroughly outside with a flannel rag or soft brushes, but, clearly, some dust must remain especially in the fuzz of fibres that results from roughing the vellum up.

    Goatskin I find responds badly to my sanding and scraping, because the 'pebbling' texture flakes up preferentially to give an extraordinarily rough surface. Perhaps some of the finest fine carborundum would work. I've had good results by carefully scrubbing it all over with dry pounce in a clean dry flannel cloth; the pumice 'keys' the surface well, the cuttlefish dries out any oil. The paint is going on beautifully.

    Pounce might work on gesso, too -- but the dust would be plentiful.

    John, I'm intrigued. What did you do in your metal-working days? Silver chain production sounds like jewellery-making.

  4. I was surprised to hear about using alcohol for dust removal. Koo Schadler also recommends the same but for degreasing.

    Owned a jewelry store with my brother. I was the bench jeweler and appraiser--chain repairs, ring sizing, remounts, diamond grading, etc... I got out of retail after five years (long story there) and then spent time simply learning and experimenting, chain making being one of my adventures. I hold an as yet unexplored interest in enameling.