Author Topic: Color without paint?  (Read 2937 times)

Offline TexelGirl

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Color without paint?
« on: March 17, 2009, 12:37:49 PM »
My sculpture professor apparently has a deep hatred of paint  :smt108, which I used in my last piece.  My next piece will be made of air dry clay as the GMU can't power the kiln and other things (like the lights evidently).  My prof wants me to color the piece but I'm not allowed to use any kind of paint.  I thought about natural dyes but the information I have is for natural fabric dyes which require a mordant (fixative).  In order to use the fixative you need to do the boiling in an iron pot.  Do you think I actually need a mordant if I'm just going to put the color onto clay?  I would have to do all the distilling of the color at home (as the art department doesn't have anything I can use to boil water) so any suggestions for home-brew color would be much appreciated.

I also thought about india ink (as I have many colors of it already).  The only color that doesn't work in my tests is brown - it comes out more purple than the violet ink I have.  I would have to use a tea stain for that color I guess.

Any other suggestions for an inexpensive solution to coloring without paint? 

BTW, I am using Amaco white air dry clay.  It dries more like a pale gray. 

Thanks

Offline c.d.e.

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2009, 12:48:57 PM »
You can use your coffee for brown, and perhaps dried mustard for yellow and other household items that you may think of...

Offline Jesse

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2009, 01:02:59 PM »
Interesting questions.  If you weren't going to fire it, I'd imagine you could use natural pigments, and mix them in the clay.  If you are going to fire, then you're going to need to find components that will with stand the heat. 

I've seen several artists color their clay in different natural tones by changing different mixtures of sediment that could help you control the brown color that you're looking for.  I think certain natural ashes will lend a green color after firing.  Horse hair will burn in black. Ground feldspar will be sort of milky white.


If they can't get their kiln going, have you thought about pit firing? 

I know very little.  Maybe you could check with Ed Bull at creative clay.  They know their business! :)
http://artdc.org/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=277

Offline TexelGirl

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 02:37:44 PM »
Great suggestions!  Coffee.  Duh!!! I can't believe I didn't think of that since I was drinking it when I was typing the question  :headonwall:   I also learned that the ever colorful Kool-Aid will work too.  I have dried mustard in my spice rack, I'll try that.  I'm also going through my plethora of herbal teas to see what colors they come up with.   I don't have any horses, but I wonder what color cat hair burns :) 

Thanks!!!!!


Offline c.d.e.

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 02:54:46 PM »
Let me know how this works out

Offline TexelGirl

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2009, 10:35:58 AM »
Here are the results of the experiments so far....

I tried mixing yellow mustard powder and chili powder into small batches of the clay but neither produced any color.  They do cause the clay to dry out very quickly though so i kept having to add water to it. 

I tried various brews of tea painted onto the dry clay.  The darker red the brewed tea is the more color it produces on the clay - but it makes for a very, very pale bluish-purple.  Repeated coats can make it a bit darker.  The lighter red colored teas did not produce any color. 

Wet coffee grounds applied on top of the dried clay and allowed to dry there makes the clay brown (surprise  :biggrin:).  Again it is a pale brown but gets some nice variation.  It can be a pain to get the dried grounds out of any small nooks but worth it in the end. 

Food coloring was my next experiment.  Mixing it into the clay produces color, but you need quite a bit to get a deep color.  The cool part is that, as the clay dries, the color starts to move to the edges.  You cannot place two different colored pieces in contact with one another as they dry though.  I created a flower using red dye on the petals and yellow for the center, the red leached into the yellow making it dark orange.  The colors are, again, rather pale compared to paint.....unless you paint the food coloring directly onto the dried clay.  Then the colors are very bright but since they soak into the clay it doesn't look like paint.  If mixing the food coloring into the wet clay, it does cause it to dry out while working with it so you'll need to add water (even though I was using liquid food coloring).   Of course that could be caused by the amount of time I had to kneed the clay to mix the color into it all the way.

I've also tried a variety of colored India inks, but painted onto the dried clay.  They look great with the exception of my brown ink - it becomes purple on the clay. 

Just for the hell of it I also used Sharpie markers on the dried clay.  The silver ones do produce a metallic look as it more or less dries on top of the clay.  The others sink in to produce bright colors so I suppose if you wanted to do some quicky fine detail work with they would be OK but I'm not sure they really look all that great. 

I did think about getting some pigments that are made for paper work but I'm trying to save a bit of money for Art-o-Matic.  I've sold some pieces recently so I may need to produce to some more work for the show, especially if I sell anything at three shows I have before then.  I can't do any more experimenting until next week as my husband completely freaks out when I do weird things in the house.  Of course when he's not here the mouse is free to play  :smt112



Offline seanwelker

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2009, 11:54:36 AM »
In place of the liquid food coloring, you might look for food coloring gels, which generally produce intensely vivid colors.  They're a bit more expensive, but absolutely worth it. 

You might also think about staining with soy sauce or bleach for interesting results. 

Have you considered nail polish, either as folded into the clay or as a makeshift paint?

Finally, wood stains might be interesting on clay, particularly deep brown/reds.   

Hope everything works out well.

 
sean welker is a creative based in Chicago.
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Offline Perstef

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2009, 05:44:19 PM »
My sculpture prof in college hated paint too!  I do sometimes miss the restrictions of school, I think it forced you to come up with some great solutions (and some fantastic 2am failures).

Now I've never tried this on air dried clay, but if you're looking for dye on the cheap and want bright colors try a test with koolaid or jello.  Sounds weird, but it works with hair and photos (and the skin around your mouth) so it might be worth a try.  And the smell could be another element to play with.

Good luck!

Offline Sean Hennessey

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2009, 09:53:09 PM »
how about

tinted waxes
french enamel varnish
gilding
charcoal
flocking
fire extinguisher ( which is what i used on ceramic when my ceramic prof told me not to use paint.. so lame, by the way)
asphaltum
colored paper
any dry pigment will work in air dry clay
as will UTC's
conte crayons
wood stains
shoe polish
you could mix metal powders in the clay then patina them
powder coating
shrink wrap with colored film
tool dip





Offline Gone

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2010, 04:13:01 AM »

Kind of late but...

You could look at natural pigments on this website for ideas.

http://www.earthpigments.com/products/natural-earth-and-ocher-pigments.cfm?gclid=CPPu94ag-aACFclM5Qodml9txg

A few natural pigments you could also try.  Black walnut husks.  They make a strong stain if you crush them and soak in water.  It will probably be brown.

Clay.  Clay can be red or brown or yellow or gray.

Urine is yellow, hey hey!   :biggrin:

Back home in Ohio we had some plants that had purple stems and clusters of purple/black berries.  Weeds really, I don't remember the name right now.  But crush those berries and you get a very bright strong purple o violet color.  Oh yeah, they are poke berries.  Son of a gun.  Wiki says the US Declaration of independence was written in pokeweed ink.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokeweed

Pokeweed berries yield a red ink or dye, which was once used by aboriginal Americans to decorate their horses. The United States Declaration of Independence was written in fermented pokeberry juice (hence the common name 'inkberry').



Offline Kelly Perl

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2010, 09:39:41 AM »
Undoubtedly moot, but try tumeric.  Works as a fabric dye in the Subcontinent.  Try applying it in a paste.  No experience with clay, mind.
Kelly Perl
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Email:  kp@kellyperlphotography.com

Offline Jesse

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Re: Color without paint?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 09:54:30 AM »
I'd love to see some pics of all of your experiences.