by Helen White RMS

We take a tantalising look into the world of Pigments and Shell Gold.

If you take a peep into Helens much loved pigment cupboard you’ll find an Aladdins cave of colourful wonders!

Aside from powdered pigments (the raw materials for making paint), there are ingredients for various artistic ‘recipes’. This includes Gum Arabic (for binding pigments to make watercolour paint), Rabbit Skin Glue (for making the ground for Egg Tempera painting) and Gum Ammoniac, Seccotine Glue and Slaked Plaster (for making mordants for the application of Gold Leaf).

Seeing how Pigments and Patterns work together…

Pigments include ‘Earths’ such as chalk or ochre, and ‘minerals’ like Lapis Lazuli. Lapis Lazuli is a blue semi-precious stone that has long been prized for the beauty and intensity of its colour.

Pigments can also be made from plants, insects and synthetic substances.
Making paints from powdered pigments gives a more intense colour than commercially available paints in tubes. 

The use of shells as palettes is traditional and is seen in illustrations in medieval manuscripts (and they are free!) 

Shell Gold is real gold paint which is made by grinding Gold Leaf to a fine powder, and uses either Gum Arabic or Gelatine as a binder. It is so called because traditionally it was made and sold in mussel shells. 

‘Four Season Parterre’ 
Gold Leaf and Watercolour on Paper with Peridot Cabochons. 
54 x 54 Mm | 2 ⅛ ” x2 ⅛ “