How is paint made 1

Natural colors

In the beginning there was nature

Cave paintings in Lascaux in the south of France show that people used finely ground earth and minerals as paint as early as 30,000 years ago. Lime and gypsum made for white, charcoal and bone for black.

Initially, the colors were mixed with animal fat, oil, protein, vegetable juices, isinglass or even blood. That colors already had a high symbolic value at that time is shown by corpse finds powdered with red ocher: red symbolized life-sustaining powers.

From a purely technical point of view, colors are made up of pigments or dyes, binders, solvents and additives. A general distinction is made between natural and artificial colors. The latter can now be produced ten thousand times, they have artistic names such as "methyl orange" or "crystal violet".

The naturally occurring dyes of vegetable, mineral or animal origin are more exciting: chlorophyll, turmeric, hemoglobin, sienna, ultramarine, sepia or cochineal are among them.

Until the discovery of synthetic colors in the 18th century, natural dyes colored textiles and dishes, were used for cosmetic purposes and of course for art. Natural colors have been rediscovered for some time now - although they are more expensive, they are more environmentally friendly and less harmful to health than artificial colors.

How does a stone turn into color?

The ancient Egyptians are said to have used green and blue color pigments for the first time - the pigments were wrested from minerals. Because of its deep blue color, the gemstone lapis lazuli was very popular at the time.

To obtain pigment from lapis lazuli, the raw stone is first coarsely crushed, finely ground in a mill and then sieved. As a rule, its powder also contains other rock flour, such as lime or pyrite, which contaminate the color.

Therefore, the powder is mixed with alcohol and then poured off over a magnetized channel. The magnetic pyrite particles then stick to the channel.

After the alcohol has been poured off, the powder is kneaded with waxes and resins so that the remaining impurities are bound. The lump comes in a linen bag and is washed out until only the fine pigments are left in the water as sediment.

After the water has been poured off, pure lapis lazuli pigment remains - the expensive original substance of the color ultramarine blue. The procedure is very lengthy and costly. Other minerals used in color production include malachite (green), azurite (blue) and cinnabar (red).

In order to be able to paint with the water-insoluble pigments, binders such as linseed oil are added to them. The finer the crystals, the more intensely colored the pigment. The optimal crystal size is between a five-hundredth and a two-thousandth of a millimeter.

Colors from plants

Vegetable dyes have been used for cosmetics and for dyeing textiles since ancient times. The raw materials for this are flowers, leaves, fruits or roots. "Henna", for example, is obtained from the leaves and stems of the henna bush and is still used today for deep red tones when coloring hair. The Egyptians, however, also used this dye to dye cloths.

In this country, the "madder" was once popular. The red color came from the cell sap and the roots of the "Färberröte", a plant from the red family. Before that, however, the plant had to be dried, cut into small pieces, and ground.

"Alzarin" is the name of madder's permanent dye. When mixed with alcohol, the color becomes yellowish, the strong red only appears when the alum salt is added.

The so-called "Turkish red" was particularly fiery and only arose after lengthy work steps. For this purpose, the fabrics to be dyed were treated with rancid vegetable oil and potash before the actual pickling.

Other well-known plant colors can be obtained from saffron and turmeric (yellow), beetroot (red), blueberry and elderberry (violet), woad and indigo (blue), leaf green and spinach (green), safflower and Indian date (brown).

Animally colorful

One of the most famous animal dyes is purple. The noble red-violet color was a symbol of nobility and power in ancient Rome and later in the church. A secretion from the purple snail provides the dye, which was weighed out with gold. One gram of purple takes around 10,000 live animals.

The snail's gland supplies the coveted juice, which only flows after the shell has been opened. The initially transparent secretion changes color under the influence of light and air from yellow to green and blue to a wonderful purple.

The color quality depends on the age of the snail, its menu and the current gender of the hybrid.

To get to the dye, the animals were pounded and soaked in salt for several days. This "soup" was boiled together with urine until it had evaporated to a sixteenth. After removing the meat, the fabrics were put into the dye bath. It was only on drying in the light that the dye developed from yellow to purple-red.

"Crimson" is also obtained from an animal: a scale insect originally native to Mexico. The females and their clutch contain the dye "Koschenille", which tastes extremely bitter.

Because of him, the lice are spurned by mice and birds, but the carmine it contains aroused human desire. The dried female lice and eggs are used as the raw product. The color carmine is only obtained after grinding and extraction with water.

Another important dye comes from the sea. Like most cephalopods, the squid order of cuttlefish produces ink. The dye "Sepia" is still extracted from it today.

The extremely stable ink dye consists of highly concentrated melanin, the spectrum of which ranges from red to brown to black. After the ink bubbles have dried, their contents are pulverized for the manufacture of the ink and further processed according to the recipe.