composition of those bodies is carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen,
and oxygen in various combinations. Both substances
are entirely soluble in hot water and are coagulated by
tannin. Cold will also coagulate them, hence the well-
known property which is exhibited every time one mixes
a pail of kalsomine, it "jells" when it cools, which makes
it work smoother and makes it easier applied than before
Glues are thrown in three different classes, according
to the material that was used in their preparation.
1st. Hide glue, made from skins, ears, tendons, hide
trimmings from the tanyards, and similar offal.
2d. Bone glue, from hoofs, feet, bones, joints, and any
3d. Fish glue, made from the bladders, entrails,
scales, and bones of fish.
All are well aware of the great difference in the strength
possessed by various glues. This depends upon the
material of which they have been made, and in a lesser
degree upon the manner of their preparation.
Hide glues are the strongest of any, and possess the
greatest tenacity. Bone glues are the weakest. It is
difficult to make a glue salesman own up that any
of his samples are bone glue, but some of them certainly
are. Fish glue, especially that made from Russian stur-
SUBSTANCES USED IN BINDING PIGMENTS 223
geon stock, is very strong. Some of the fish glues made
from the bladders are not only very strong, but as clear
as glass, offering no obstacle whatever to the passage of
light rays, any more than would so much crystal. Isin-
glass is only a very fine form of such fish glue. The
bone glues usually furnish that form of glue known
Glues range in color from that which is light and trans-
parent to the dark brown stinking refuse, which forcibly
reminds one of being very near a spot where animal
matter is decaying.
That which is prepared for the binding of kalsomine or
water colors is known to the trade as kalsomine glue. In
shape it is in thin sheets, which are broken up in small
pieces before packing in barrels. There are many quali-
ties of it. That which breaks with an elastic fracture
and is of a light creamy tone is usually good. If it
is very white and opaque, the chances are that it
has been weighted with some adulterating sub-
stance. These white weighted glues are not as
economical nor as satisfactory as those of a creamy
Glue comes also in a pulverized form, ground up in
small, angularly shaped particles, and it is to be found thus
in all grades from poor to good. Usually ^these do not
run as strong as the regular kalsomine glues do, but the
better qualities answer the purpose well enough. The
ground glues dissolve more readily than those that have
not been broken up, and the thin ones of the kalsomine
glue sorts dissolve quicker than the thick glues. Glue,
however, of any and all shapes, can be used for the pur-
pose of binding pigments in distemper work. It is only
a question of convenience, saving of time, and of a knowl-
edge of the strength that they possess, as without that
224 MODERN PIGMENTS
it will be impossible to properly gauge the proper quan-
tity of it to use for the binding of a given weight of pig-
ment. Glue has the property of absorbing moisture and
of retaining it when it comes in contact with cold water,
but it is not dissolved by it. This well-known pecul-
iarity is made use of by painters to hasten its solubility
and to melt it. The glue is soaked in cold water over
night. During that period, it will have absorbed several
times its own weight of that liquid. It will then be
swollen much above its normal bulk and softened in
texture. This soaked and swollen glue, when placed in
a vessel over the stove, will readily dissolve at a low heat,
and thus will save much time and worry in melting it in
the dry state, as then it requires constant stirring and
much more heat besides care, or it will burn at the bottom
of the vessel. When melted, it is ready to mix with the
pigments, which should always be done before it has had
time to cool and become jellied.
In warm weather, putrefaction commences early in
colors thus prepared, and unless one has a refrigerator
for the surplus that cannot be used the same day, it will
be better and pleasanter to mix no more than will be used
up clean that day.
To lessen the tendency to putrefaction, a few drops of
carbolic acid or eugenol (oil of cloves) may be added.
This will retard fermentation, but will not prevent it.
Properties and Uses
Gum arabic is probably the best binding substance
known for water colors, and if it is given only second
place on the list, it is not because it does not deserve to
have the first, but because its much greater cost and
SUBSTANCES USED IN BINDING PIGMENTS 225
also the greater care and difficulty in its use render
its universal employment impossible; and also on ac-
count of another reason: if gum arabic was used to
the same extent as glue is for binding pigments, there
would not be enough of it in the market, and its
cost would soar so high as to put it out of commission
Gum arabic is a true gum, and consequently it is of
vegetable origin. It is produced from several species of
acacia. That best known is supposed to be produced
from Acacia Arabica, and its name is derived from that;
but in reality it is derived from Acacia Senegal, which is
much more common, and the gum arabic of commerce is
chiefly obtained from that variety.
Its composition is a mixture of the salts of arabic acid,
these salts being of three bases, potash, lime, and mag-
nesia with water.
The better specimens are nearly all free from color,
clear, and nearly if not wholly soluble in water, and the
Gum arabic dissolves very slowly in cold water; boiling
water must be used in making solutions. It should be
pulverized to facilitate this, as it takes a long time to dis-
solve the lumps. After the solution is made, it should
stand for a day, and the clear liquid poured off, when the
undissolved impurities will be found at the bottom and
should be left undisturbed. It should be prepared before-
hand, so as to have it at a moment's notice. It will be
well to guard against any fermentation by the addition
of a few drops of eugenol or of a lump of camphor
which will float upon the top; this will prevent it from
Being so much more slowly acted upon by cold water
than the glues, and being so much less subject to putre-
226 MODERN PIGMENTS
faction than animal matter, its use is indicated for dis-
temper, fresco, and all good water-color work. For
artists' use in water colors, it is indispensable.
The above two substances, i.e., glues and gum arabic,
are the two most important substances as binding agents
for distemper colors. There are a few other substances
used, but to so limited an extent as to deserve little
more than passing mention.
These have been grouped below, and consist of starch,
dextrin, honey, molasses, sugar, and glycerine.
Properties and Uses
Starch is a substance well known to everybody,
and is derived from the cereals and the bulbous roots
of plants, as potatoes, yams, etc. Starch mixed
with cold water into a stiff paste, and in which
hot boiling water has been poured until it has become
stiff and unctuous, has been and is occasionally
used to mix pigments and apply them to surfaces.
Its use for such a purpose can only be tolerated upon
the plea of dire necessity, when no other and better
binders are procurable, and cannot be recommended
even for the cheapest kind of work.
Properties and Uses
The Dextrin of commerce is derived from starch. While
its adhesiveness is greater than that substance, it is so
much weaker than that of either glue or gum arabic,
that its use is very questionable as a binder for distemper
painting. It has another fault, in that it softens in warm
SUBSTANCES USED IN BINDING PIGMENTS 227
weather; and those who have had to do with sticky enve-
lopes and stuck-together stamps will know enough not
to want to fool with it.
As a corrective, used in small quantities with glues, it
is said that it will prevent the suction of hot walls and
keep the color from striking in too rapidly.
HONEY, SUGAR, AND MOLASSES
Properties and Uses
Honey, from its soft condition at all times, is not fitted
for the binding of colors; molasses is similarly constituted;
while sugar is a solid which by the addition of water can
be brought to the consistency of syrup. The three
possess about the same properties, and are too weak for
the binding of water colors. As correctives to be used
with distemper colors mixed with glue, they are fre-
quently resorted to for the same purposes as mentioned
under the heading of dextrin. Honey is also used as a
corrective in the preparation of artists' water colors in
the form in which they are so popular now, that of moist
pans. It is also used in very limited quantity in the
hard cakes to prevent the gum arabic in their compound-
ing from becoming too brittle and crumbling to pieces.
As honey usually becomes crystalline, and in that condi-
tion is as useless as granulated sugar would be, it is
treated to prevent its crystallization, and has its
dextrose removed. This is accomplished by mixing
it with four times its bulk of alcohol and keeping it
agitated every few hours for two consecutive days;
then the pale alcoholic solution is filtered. It is
fit to use in that condition, or the alcohol may be
recovered by distillation, and the residue in a syrupy
condition may be used instead.
228 MODERN PIGMENTS
Properties and Uses
Glycerine is obtained from oils and fats. Many of the
large soap works produce it as a by-product. It is of the
consistency of a thin syrup and has a sweetish taste. It
attracts moisture readily, and will absorb more than one
third of its weight from the atmosphere. That which is
found in commerce has always some water in its com-
position. This can be readily detected by its specific
gravity and the percentage of water computed from the
variation of that which it shows and that which it ought
to have. Its great attraction for water really makes it
superior to honey in the manufacture of cake and moist
cake water colors, and many are beginning to use it for
It is also very useful to add to distemper colors and
kalsomine for wall-work and for rooms where the plas-
tering is in that condition which is known as hot. It will
greatly facilitate the application of the paint into which
it has been added in the proportion of four to six fluid
ounces to the pail of color (about 2J gallons). Its use
has saved many a man from profanity.
DRIERS AND SICCATIVES
It has been noted in the descriptions of the various
pigments that some of them were called non-driers.
The pigments themselves, being powdered solids, never dry
any more than they do when ground up with oil to a
paste. The term, therefore, does not apply to them
really, but to the linseed-oil vehicle with which they are
mixed, and refers to the action of the pigment upon the
oil. It was also noted that some other pigments on the
contrary aided the drying of the fixed oils.
The main reason for the non-drying of pigments is that
some contain fatty oils which do not dry; there are also
other reasons which were noted under each head. Again,
it was noticed that the lead pigments which were
oxides of that metal, and that pigments also which con-
tained oxide of manganese in their composition, hastened
the drying of the oils.
The oxides of lead are all very good driers, but also
some of the other salts of that metal and acetate of lead
are especially so; even white lead itself possesses that
property to a good degree but not in such proportion
as some others. It will usually dry raw linseed oil in a few
hours outside, without the addition of artificial driers
unless the weather is cold and the atmosphere too humid.
In describing the drying of linseed oil, it was said that
the heating of the linseed oil of itself rendered it more
230 MODERN PIGMENTS
siccative, so that even subsequently, after it had cooled,
it would still retain some of its thus acquired drying
Linseed oil would dry naturally when mixed with inert
pigments, as these exert no influence upon its drying one
way or another; and with the pigments, which will aid
its oxidation the more quickly, as these part with their
oxide more rapidly or liberally, and when mixed with the
non-drying pigments much more slowly or not at all,
according to the composition of the non-drying colors.
If the temperature could be depended upon to remain
above 70 F., and the barometer at "Beau Fixe,"
and only pigments mixed with linseed oil which
were not inimical to its natural drying, there would be
but little need of driers; but, unfortunately, there can be
no dependence placed upon it. Neither the thermometer
nor the barometer ever remain very long where the
painter would like them to be, being proverbially fickle,
so, by the use of dryers, he must guard against the
possibility of having his work destroyed by changes which
are likely to come at a moment's notice.
Again, in interior work, the women folk are ever hurry-
ing up the poor painter, and ever threatening all sorts of
evil to him, even to threatening him that this is to be the
last job for him there, if he does not put in a little more
push to his hastening along with it, when he is doing all
that possibly can be done, and more, for the real good of
the painting; or in business houses or stores, where the
painting has to be done at night, so the paint may be
dry in the morning, there is no other alternative left to
the painter but that of using siccatives in his paints, no
matter whether this is good for it or not.
There is no doubt but that much of the short life of
paint complained of is due, in part at least, to the hurried
DRIERS AND SICCATIVES 231
drying of linseed oil, which burns it up that is what fast
drying means. Where the drying is slow and natural,
the conversion occurs without violence. Then the paint
will stay on much longer and remain in good condition
without checking all over from lack of adhesion and
BOILED LINSEED OIL
This is the simplest of the siccatives. The heating of
linseed oil renders it more drying. Boiled oil, when the
boiling has been done, as it usually is, with the oxides of
lead or manganese present during the process, renders it
still more drying.
How those substances are capable of imparting oxygen
to linseed oil without losing any of it themselves is not
well understood. One thing is sure, if a given weight
of those oxides be placed in a bag with the oil and all
boiled together, these bags may be taken out and the
linseed oil carefully washed away with benzine, and the
oxide powders dried and weighed, when it will be found
that they have not lost any of it by the operation, but
the linseed oil will have absorbed oxygen through their
agency some way.
As a siccative, boiled oil has its uses even for outside
painting, but it is seldom used for that purpose, probably
because the specially prepared liquid driers or japans
are more powerful siccatives and smaller proportions are
necessary to accomplish the purpose of drying the oil.
Manufacturers of varnishes usually prepare siccative
compounds for the drying of linseed oil. They are sold
232 MODERN PIGMENTS
under many names, such as drying japans, liquid driers,
liquid siccatives, and many fancy proprietary names.
The solving medium used in their preparation is really
of little moment, whether it be linseed oil, spirits of
turpentine, naphtha, benzine, or mixtures of these. The
quantity necessary to dry a given amount of linseed oil
is so small that their presence in the oil can exert little
influence other than that which is expected of them
the drying of the oil. An undue quantity added to lin-
seed oil will injure it, but then that would happen no
matter what the solvent might be.
The action of these has already been noted, as, for
instance, when boiled with linseed oil, etc. All lead
siccatives have one drawback that they all hold in com-
mon, they subject the oil, or rather the pigments mixed
with it, to the action of sulphuretted hydrogen.
This is not so noticeable in the liquid driers as it is
in the paste driers, when the lead oxides themselves
become a part of the paint.
The paste driers will be noted further on more fully.
Liquid driers are very seldom, if ever, made from the
lead oxides, for the very good reason that the
OXIDES OF MANGANESE
are much better adapted for that purpose. When made
with these, there is no danger of any further discolora-
tion taking place, outside of that which is produced
immediately after the mixing of the liquid manganese
drier with the paint. The greatest drawback is their
dark brown color. If, however, the brown borate of
manganese is used in the preparing of the liquid drier,
the dark tone of the drier will be reduced to a minimum,
DRIERS AND SICCATIVES 233
The manganese driers are such strong driers that, if
they have been well prepared, but little of them need be
used, and that little will influence the drying of linseed
oil a long way.
There is absolutely no excuse for using the large quan-
tities of liquid manganese driers many painters do. It
then becomes dangerous, for it burns the paint, and, in
excessive quantities, it will defeat the purpose for which
it is used at all the drying of the oil. When will the
careless painter learn that a little manganese drier will
accomplish the object of drying oil much better than the
larger quantities of it. Strange as the above may sound,
it is not the quantity used that causes the oil to dry
faster, for it will take it up only as it needs it at its
convenience, nor will it take up more than the needed
amount. Another strange fact, hard to explain, is that
when excessive quantities are used the very object of
quick drying is defeated, as then it seems rather to pre-
vent than accelerate it. One large tablespoonful of a
well-made standard average strength liquid drier is
amply sufficient for any ordinary pail holding three
quarts of paint ready thinned for application. This will
dry all ordinary mixtures where white lead is the base
of the paint. For Vandyke brow r n and lamp black, half
a pint to the gallon of linseed oil will be found suffi-
cient those two pigments being the most anti-drying
ones on the list.
The oxides of lead, we have already seen, affect white
lead compound and others even more, which are not
affected by sulphuretted -hydro gen gases, which, when
they are used, are affected by their presence.
Formerly large quantities of acetate of lead paste
driers were manufactured, but their defects under
234 MODERN PIGMENTS
unfavorable conditions specking and coming out as an
efflorescence have greatly reduced their use. Under
that form and style they are still used in certain localities.
Paste fillers are made and prepared according to pro-
prietary formulas, so that what might be a good one
made by one firm will not necessarily need to be a recom-
mendation for some one else's make, simply because it
is put up in that form. Acetate of lead is the base of all
light-toned ones. They are used for very light tints and
whites. Many an artist has had to rue the day when he
was tempted to use them, as they are chiefly composed, as
was said, of acetate of lead, or may also contain white
oxide of lead or litharge, which, however, darkens it some.
Aside from subjecting the painting to the action of sul-
phurous vapors, deteriorating and specking or efflores-
cing, there are other injurious chemical changes affecting
Sulphate of zinc drier in paste form is a fair drier for
zinc white, but of little value when used in connection
with any other pigment.
Borate of lime and borate of zinc also make useful
driers for zinc paint.
Some paste driers are now made with borate of man-
ganese as the chief ingredient in their composition. Such
will be found more effective and more valuable, even if
they are a trifle dark, than the other varieties of paste
driers, but they are not as advantageous as the liquid
driers. They require to be carefully thinned out before
mixing with the paint, and for that reason will never
become popular. It is a waste of time to triturate them
and thin them for use, which, when done, puts them in
liquid form and makes a liquid drier of them after
all. Why not procure that in the first place and save
all the bother?
THE COMPOUNDING OF PIGMENTS.
THE compounding of pigments changes the color of
each, imparting to the others a part, and in return receiv-
ing a part of theirs, so that the completed mixture becomes
a new color different from that of the pigments produc-
ing it, but which partakes of the character of each one
of them in some degree.
THE PRIMARY COLORS
Of colors proper there are but three. These three are
called the primary colors. They are the following:
Red, Yellow and Blue
White itself is but the product of a perfect combination
of the three primaries, black being simply a negative of
From the combination of two of any of the primary
colors together are made the secondary colors, and these
are as follows:
Purple, Orange and Green
They are thus produced:
Red and blue = Purple.
Red and yellow = Orange.
Yellow and blue = Green.
236 MODERN PIGMENTS
From the union of two of the secondary colors comes
a third set, the tertiary colors which consist of the
Olive, Citrine and Russet
They are derived in this way:
Purple and green = Olive.
Green and orange = Citrine.
Purple and orange = Russet.
Further mixtures of these produce the neutral tints.
From the above three primaries, three secondaries and
three tertiaries, with the addition of white and black,
are produced the hundreds of thousands of varied tints
which form the kaleidoscope of infinite variety adorning
everything animate and inanimate upon this mundane
It is regrettable that no more space can be devoted to
the study and notice of color harmony, but this would
unduly enlarge the volume, and it is not strictly within
the subject matter. The color student is therefore advised
to procure some of the excellent treatises which deal
with this subject as their primary object. There is
nothing more interesting than the study of the phenom-
ena of color. It will greatly help the student, not alone
in that it will help him to mix tints properly, but also in
the higher object of becoming master of color effects,
which is a faculty that few otherwise very good painters
possess, and which would be worth to them in after life
many times over whatever effort in time and money they
may have spent in acquiring a good knowledge of color.
Expert colorists are in good demand at any reasonable
figures which they. may demand for their services.
THE COMPOUNDING OF PIGMENTS 237
For the making of tints, a base is used upon which to
build it. The base is that pigment which enters the com-
pound in the greatest quantity. If a white, and that
is usually the base of all light tints, it is either white
lead or. zinc white, used alone or together in any propor-
tions, and still other whites may be added to them as
correctives if desired.
The rules given below are formulated for guidance in
the preparation of tints, with linseed oil as the vehicle,
and for pigments which have been ground to a paste
in the same vehicle. These same rules will apply to the
mixing of pigments and the making of tints from them
in any other vehicle, japan, varnish or water, with what-
ever slight alterations made necessary by the different
nature of those liquids.
1. THE BASE
The base, as was said before, is the principal color of
the tint. Tints usually, but not always, are lighter
tones of those of the pigments used in compounding
them, so white must be used -to lighten them up. It
thus becomes the principal color or the base upon which
the tint is built. It may be any white pigment, or
combination of them; but to simplify matters, and also
on account of its being the pigment in chief use for the
purpose, when a white base is designated hereafter it
it will be called white lead, no matter if it is that or any
other white that one may prefer to use.
In some few cases, however, where great purity of